Last week we talked about the importance of exposing Joey to the phonemic awareness activities such as rhyming games to help prepare him for skills later in life. Here are some of the rhyming games and activities we are working on so far.
We started with a silly game of “feed the hungry rhyming monster” where I put two pictures of food in front of Joey and ask him to find the one that rhymes with what the monster is saying. We are using made up words because like manana, mueberries, and mookie because it is easier to hear the rhyme in a nonsense word. Joey is forced to focus on the sounds in the word instead of the meaning. We also play silly games with Joey’s name to continue the word play. (In the classroom I used to call kids to line up by their rhyming names throughout the day. “Boey can line up now!” Nothing is sillier to young children than hearing an adult call them by their rhyming name…)
Once Joey was able to identify the silly word with it’s real food we moved on to rhyming real words. I made an interactive song book of Down by the Bay and velcroed pictures of what Joey could choose to put together. Although we have the traditional lines “Goose kissing a moose”, “Bear combing his hair” and “Whale with a polka dot tale”, we added other options so that Joey will not just memorize pairs of words, but will be focused on listening to the rhyme. Now Joey can choose which animal to sing about (cat, fox, fish), and then choose what rhymes with it (hat, box, dish). Once he’s chosen his rhyme we make up a silly song about it. “Have you ever seen a fox hiding in a box? Have you ever seen a fish eating a dish?” The sentences don’t need to make sense, they just need to rhyme. His choices are all on laminated cards that move in and out of the book with Velcro. This way Joey can physically participate in the song and game.
Pretty soon we’ll start the song “Willabee Wallabee Whoo”, which is another fun rhyming song that leads to practicing decoding skills. “Willabee Wallabee Woey…. An Elephant sat on Joey!” We’ll have picture cards out of family members and Joey will be able to pick the family member whose name most sounds like the rhyme.
Right now I’m not overly concerned about Joey’s accuracy with these games. I want to expose him to the concept of rhyming so that he begins to recognize that some words sound the same. Years from now when he is ready to learn to read, this background will give him some of the phonological awareness he’ll need.
Stay tuned next week for how Joey spontaneously used his new rhyming skills to help with his communication.