Rhyme and Alliteration [Building Blocks of Phonological Awareness]

Next up in this series is rhyme and alliteration! Before we dive in, let's talk about phonological awareness and how rhyme and alliteration fit in to the larger phonological awareness continuum of skills.

What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness is the ability to think about, recognize, and manipulate the sounds in spoken language.  Phonological awareness activities work with rhymes, words, syllables, and onset rimes--all without the use of print.  The last stage of phonological awareness is actually phoneme awareness: blending, segmenting, and manipulating phonemes (sounds). Phonological awareness skills generally develop along a continuum ranging from simple to more complex.

Why is phonological awareness important?

Research suggests that phonemic awareness is the single best predictor of reading success. But because these skills develop along a continuum, we can't just start with phonemes (or individual sounds in words)! We must start at the beginning, ensuring children have a solid foundation in all phonological awareness skills. 

How do you teach phonological awareness? 

I've found the key to building phonological awareness skills in your little scholars and making them stick is to use kinesthetic motions and pictures--this way they are hearing, seeing, and moving! I    also gradually release responsibility with the "I do, we do, you do" model, giving my little scholars lots of opportunities to practice and receive feedback.

Now, let's talk about rhyme and alliteration.


Rhyming is a complex skill and it is a skill that benefits from being constantly spiraled back to. It begins with your little scholars simply enjoying and imitating rhymes and moves on to recognizing rhymes, then finally producing rhymes.

Rhyming Activities 

Rhyme Away

This is one of my favorite transition activities! All you need is a whiteboard, marker, and eraser. Draw a simple picture with objects that are easy to rhyme like a sun, boy, kite, tree, dog, star, etc. Say, "I rode to school in a car, so I need a friend to erase the _____." Invite a child who says "star" to erase the star from the picture. Rhyming can be a difficult skill for children, so the pictorial clues provide scaffolding to children. If you have a student who is struggling with rhyming, invite them to participate when there are only one or two pictures left to erase. This will differentiate this activity for them by limiting the possible choices while building their confidence! 

Rhyme Away is a great activity when you only have a few extra minutes! Draw simple pictures on a whiteboard and invite children to erase a word that rhymes with a word or phrase you say. For example, "I have a ring so please erase the ______." A student will come up and erase the swing.

Clip A Rhyme

This activity allows children to practice recognizing rhymes and develop their fine motor skills at the same time. Children say the picture words and place a clothespin on the picture word that completes the rhyme. In the photo below you see these rhyming pairs: sleep-sheep, chair-bear, and shoe-glue. 

Use clothespins to indicate the rhyme on each card. These are a mix of fine motor and rhyming skills!

Whenever I can, I try to incorporate an element of self-check when my little scholars are working independently. I used a yellow marker to make a dot on the back of the card indicating the correct answer. This helps them check their work ongoing instead of waiting until the end of centers or stations to find out they've done it wrong! You can find this activity here. 

Make a mark on the back of your center activities to indicate the correct answer. This will allow students to check their answers as they're working instead of waiting until the very end when they may have been doing them all incorrectly.

Rhyme Chant

Teaching using kinesthetic motions (or gestures as we call them in my class) is key! I use this chant with gestures to practice recognizing rhymes.

"Cat, -at, -at, bat -at, -at. They sound the same at the end, they rhyme!"
"Fan -an, -an, frog -og, -og. They don't sound the same at the end, they don't rhyme!"
"Car, -ar, -ar, star -ar, -ar. They sound the same at the end, they rhyme!"

I love this chant because it helps children really understand the part of the spoken word that makes the rhyme. Plus, using hand motions helps them remember! 

Odd One Out 

This simple game helps children recognize rhyming words! Each row on the pocket chart has 3 pictures--2 that rhyme and 1 that does not. Say the picture words and flip the card over that doesn't rhyme!

Place three picture cards in a pocket chart, two of which rhyme. Name the picture words and ask your little scholars to flip over the card that doesn't rhyme. 

Rhyming Listen and Clip

This activity incorporates technology as it encourages your little scholars to use listening skills as they identify words that rhyme. They scan the QR code, listen to the audio prompt (it's me giving them directions!), and place a clothespin or other manipulative on the picture word that rhymes. You can find this activity here

Combine listening and rhyming skills with fine motor development with this activity! Students listen to the audio prompt and place a clothespin on the picture words that rhyme with the word said in the audio file.

I say the same chant that I shared in the video above in the prompt on each card. Your little scholars will hear, "Can you identify the picture words that rhyme with wink? Wink, -ink, -ink. What rhymes with wink?" They'll place a clothespin or other manipulative on the picture words sink and drink. 

This activity is great because it provides lots of practice with the critical phonological skills of listening mixed and identifying rhymes. 

Rhyming Partners

Mix up the way you assign partners in your class! Instead of peanut butter and jelly or ketchup and mustard, use rhyming words like sheep and jeep and dragon and wagon to assign partners. Hand each student a card and instruct them to partner up by finding someone who has a picture word that rhymes with theirs. 

Mix up the way you assign partners in your class by using rhyming words! The student with the sheep card will work with the student with the jeep card and so on.

Rhyming Picture Books 

There is no shortage of picture books with rhymes but below I've listed just a few of my favorites. 

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

Four Funny Potatoes by Len Foley

Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman


Big brown bear and slithering sneaky snake. Those are both examples of alliteration, the repetition of words with the same beginning sound. Alliteration is on the phonological awareness continuum of skills because as young children hear and notice words that begin with the same sound, they are also identifying and isolating phonemes. 

Alliteration Activities

Same Sound Circles

See what I did there? Even though not all the words in Same Sound Circles begin with the same letter they do begin with the same sound, so it's alliteration! 
Using paper plates or circles cut out of construction paper, glue a picture card on or above the circle. Provide children with a variety of picture cards to choose from. Children will name the picture cards and place it on the same sound circle.

Alliteration is a phonological awareness skill. Use this simple activity in your classroom to teach students the skill of alliteration.

In the picture above, you see a paper plate for the picture words dog and dinosaur and another paper plate for the picture words fish and flamingo. Children will place the pictures lined on the left (frog, dig, firefighter, donut) on the paper plate that has other picture words with the same sound. 

I Spy Items 

Gather a variety of objects: household, classroom, clothing, etc. and place the items on the center of the rug or on a table in your classroom. Invite children to "spy" an item by giving them clues such as, "I spy an item that begins with the same sound as Paxton." Your little scholars would then identify the item that begins with /p/ just like Paxton's name. They'll love this activity because there are few things more exciting and relevant to young children than their own names!

New Names

Create "new" names for your little scholars by adding an adjective before their names that begin with the same sound.  Remember, it doesn't necessarily have to be the same letter! Examples are  Adventurous Adam, Smiling Sophie, Cartwheeling Kaley, and Hilarious Jorge. The purpose is not to write these names down but to say them aloud so your little scholars hear and begin to notice the same sound at the beginning of each word in their "new" name. You can use these new names when calling on children or during transition times. As they begin to understand the concept of alliteration, you can ask them to make up their own!

Next up in this blog series I'll be diving into sentence segmentation. Until then, pin the image below  to save or share this post.

Want to try the Odd One Out, Rhyming Partners, and Same Sound Circles activities in your class?

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