Rhymes and Reading

"Rhymers are Readers"

“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.” -Mem Fox author of Reading Magic


This blog illustrates the importance of rhyming for accelerating early learning skills. As teachers, we know the power of rhyming in early development so we have created an award winning app with a rhyme for every letter of the alphabet which children love singing along to..

 hip hop hen: abc flashcard songs 



Sophie has also made some printable work sheets to practice rhyming words. Please email: if you would like a copy.


Research shows that rhymes are crucial for your child’s development and exposure to rhymes helps children learn and progress with their language skills and reading. Rhymes help children learn sounds. It teaches them phonological awareness of the sounds which is the ability to identify and manipulate letters sounds.

Phonological awarenes

Phonological awareness consists of skills that are needed for listening, speaking, reading and writing - such as:

1/ Ability to identify rhymes and alliteration.

2/ Understanding the relationship between written and spoken language.

3/ Awareness that sentences can be broken down into words, syllables, and sounds.

4/ The understanding that words are made up of sounds which are represented by symbols or letters. These letters can be segmented into smaller units of sounds such as b –oa- t, f – ight, sh-ee-p, ch-air, p-r-aw-n and the ability to count the sounds in the words as well as blend the sounds to read, spell and write words.

5/ And finally being able to manipulate sounds in words by adding, deleting or substituting.

Many of these phonological awareness skills are found in listening, reading and writing rhymes.

Rhyming words often share the same spelling sequences such as c-a-t rhymes with m-a-t and h-a-t as well as p-a-t –Rhyming helps children categorise words with spelling patterns. 


Rhymes and Language skills: 

As touched on above - nursery rhymes expose young children to relatively more ‘complex’ nouns, verbs and adjectives. By an adult modelling the rhymes and the child listening to the rhymes the child quickly learns a variety of new words and sounds as they hear them repeated in a short sequence.

Through learning nursery rhymes and reading rhyming books children also learn to practice the rhythm of language and model the volume and pitch of the spoken word. Rhymes also expose children to a new rich vocabulary which would not be accessed with out singing the rhyme.


Rhyming and Physical Co-ordination as well as Motor Skills:

Many of the songs have actions which helps develop the child’s co-ordination skills as well as their control over their body. The actions are often repetitive which helps the child learn quicker and have more fun when singing the rhyme. Subsequently, the facial expressions, movements, coordination, gestures and balance required to act out a nursery rhyme help children develop their motor skills.

Children also strengthen tongue and mouth muscles by repeating the sounds in various rhymes. If you try and say 'cot' and then 'cat' – 'dock' and then 'duck' - notice the shape your mouth has to be to say both words.


Rhymes and Cognitive skills:

Research shows that between one and four years of age, children develop their conceptualisation of colour, shape, size and movement. Nursery rhymes enhance the development of these concepts among children, making them more receptive and active. 

The rhymes also use patterns, sequence and story telling which provides a great, basic introduction to organised writing.


Rhymes and Verbal skills: 

Children learn to say many new words and sounds when joining in with rhymes. For many children it will be their first exposure to many new words. Children then attempt to recite the rhyme articulately. The success of learning a rhyme at this age helps the child become a confident speaker.


Rhymes and Listening skills: 

Rhymes help to develop listening skills. The child has to listen to the rhyme to understand the story the rhyme is telling with a beginning, middle and end. The child also has to listen to the pace and learn words to be able to join in and recite the rhyme. 


Rhymes and Social skills:

Nursery rhymes are often sung in groups giving the children common purpose and confidence in their ability to be able to do what other children can do. Children often smile at each other when they are doing the actions or if they get stuck look to see what their friend is doing to join back in. This creates a bond between the children.


Rhymes and Auditory skills: 

Rhymes are some of the first musical sounds that children hear. Children listen to the repetitive sounds and tunes to help them put the language in the correct order. Many children love playing an instrument whilst singing nursery rhymes and they try to join in with the beat of the tune.


Rhymes and Numeracy

Not only do rhymes help children with their phonological awareness many nursery rhymes teach children valuable numeracy and counting skills such as:

One, Two, Three, Four, Five Once I Caught and Fish Alive 

Five Little Speckled Frogs

Five Fat Sausages

10 Green Bottles

Five Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day

Head Shoulders Knees and Toes 


Rhymes and Imaginative skills: 

Just like bedtime stories, nursery rhymes open up your children’s imagination as they paint mental pictures of places and things, and think about a world where anything is possible – like Humpty Dumpty being an egg and a cow can jump over the moon..When the child acts out the rhymes they use creativity and ways that are unique to themselves to express themselves.


Rhymes and Memory skills

Repeated exposure to nursery rhymes usually results in children memorising the rhymes. This acts as an entertaining memory exercise and lays the groundwork for an effective memory to help children develop in all areas of learning.


So, how can you introduce nursery rhymes?

Start with the simple, short rhymes like: 

Baa Baa Black Sheep or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Sing the nursery rhyme to the child with actions and lots of facial expressions to catpture the child’s interest.

Slowly as the child becomes more familiar with the rhyme they will join in and say parts themselves or even finish the line.

Sing a variety rhymes together in the morning, in the car, whilst walking, getting ready for bed. The child will soon have favourite rhymes which they will request to be sung. 

Make deliberate silly mistakes and see if you’re the child notices.

Let the child make up their own actions and copy their actions when singing.

Sometimes clap along or use an instrument to establish a beat.

Encourage the child to draw pictures of the rhyme or play with toys from the toybox to act out the rhyme.


Sophie's favourite rhyming books to join-in with are: 

All Afloat Noah's Boat

Giraffs Can't Dance

Rumble in the Jungle

Room on the Broom

Duck in the Truck

We are all Going on a Bear Hunt 

Stick Man


Chicken Licken

Fox in Socks










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