Listening to your preschooler in the back seat recite his favorite nursery rhyme over and over can drive you batty. By now, you might have lost curiosity in whether the black sheep has any wool or that Jack can jump over the candlestick because he’s nimble -- but the little one in the back seat finds them fun. Rhyming words can teach your child phonetic awareness, which helps him learn how to read. Find engaging ways to learn about rhyming words with your preschool child to develop his ability to pick them out.
It's best to read just one nursery rhyme at a time until your child is very familiar with it. Let her repeat the rhyme until she can finish each line. Say each line until you come to a rhyming word and prompt her to fill in the missing word. Discuss the two words that rhyme and what ending sound they make. Start a list of other words that rhyme with those words. Add these words to your nursery rhyme to make a silly alternative. For instance, say "Little Bo-Sleep has lost her jeep." See what other lines she can create. She'll giggle -- and she'll remember the nursery rhyme better.
Many little kids this age learn better if they can move about during a lesson. Create a hopscotch board on your floor with masking tape, placing a picture inside each square. Once he throws the bean bag and jumps to that square, ask him to pick up the picture. Call out a word that may or may not rhyme with the picture. Ask him, "Did it rhyme? Or not rhyme?" If he answers correctly, have him throw the bean bag again. Rotate the pictures often. In the beginning, use easy words such as pictures of a dog, cat, bird or wall. Progress until the picture words become too complicated.
Use ''I Spy'' to encourage preschoolers to pick out rhyming words. You may wish to place a few objects around to speed the game along. Change the words to say, "I spy something that rhymes with log." As your child becomes proficient in picking them out, have them ask you to guess what rhymes with what they spy. You can also use "I Spy" to go back and forth putting two rhymes together. First you say, "I spy a dog and a log." Then she has to say two words that rhyme. Continue until one of you cannot think of any more rhymes to say.
Use a set of printable cards or memory game cards to match rhymes and play games. Draw cards two at a time and find cards that match. Shuffle the cards to play "Go Fish" or "Old Maid." Set up one set of cards as a "Bingo" card and call out the matches so your preschooler can place a penny on the word that rhymes. Lay the cards out of the floor and use a bean bag to toss onto a card. See how long it takes to find the match.
Rebecca Bagwell is an educator with a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Trinity Baptist College. She has taught in China and the United States. While overseas she started writing articles in 2006 for bilingual trade journals. Now, she lives in the South where she homeschools and writes freelance articles encouraging creative approaches to education.