Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rhyming Isn't Necessary to Begin Reading Instruction

Most pre-reading programs include rhyming activities.  It almost seems that mastering the skill of rhyming is necessary to begin the actual reading program.  When I first started the All About Reading Pre-reading program with Joseph last year, I believed he needed to master each lesson before moving on.  Quickly, I realized that rhyming was his nemesis.  We were never going to move on because unprompted rhyming simply was not going to happen.  I have to admit that for a moment I felt despair.  He's never going to read.  This is it.  He's reached the top with his ABC's.  

No rhyming = No reading

And more WRONG.

Eventually, I tightened my belt (loosened my belt)...anyway I decided to do the rhyming activities, but not require mastery.  We would just keep moving on, despite the fact that bat rhymed with ball and hat rhymed with head.  I've talked with other parents of children with Down syndrome and this is a common complaint.  Rhyming is not a favorite activity.  Joseph is proof that a child with Down syndrome can learn to read even if they can't rhyme.  

However, and this is a huge however, rhyming shouldn't be thrown in the trash all together.  It's totally ok to learn things outside of the normal order.  So, I'll share a little game I play with Joseph to practice rhyming.  I call it Nursery Rhyming.  Nursery rhymes are a part of our cultural literacy.  Cultural literacy is having basic background knowledge of one's culture.  Why not incorporate a little cultural literacy and rhyming in one fun game.  

Here's what I do.  I read a few nursery rhymes aloud a couple of times through.  Then I repeat, but I leave out the rhyming word at the end of a stanza.  Here's an example:

The Mouse and the Clock

Hickory, dickory, dock!
The mouse ran up the ________;
The clock struck one,
And down he _____,
Hickory, dickory, dock!

The Cat and the Fiddle

Hey, diddle, diddle!
The cat and the _______,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the ______.

Joseph fills in the blank with the right word and then I praise him for rhyming.  Here's a video clip example.

At the end I always review the rhyming words:  dock rhymes with clock, one rhymes with run, diddle rhymes with fiddle, and moon rhymes with spoon.  As Joseph improves, I choose more difficult nursery rhymes.  Here's a video clip of us reviewing the rhyming words.  It's a short clip - certain kids didn't get the message to stay out of the filming area.

For beginners the board book is a good place to start.  It has the most popular rhymes for children.

 Once all these are memorized, then the full length Mother Goose is best - there are so many rhymes to choose from.

And this adorable board book from Tomie de Paola might just show up in Maria's something to read box on Christmas.

Need more fun ways to teach reading skills?
Here's a link to All About Reading's free activity book.

You might like