Teaching Kids to Rhyme

You and I grew up with our moms singing nursery rhymes- Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and Little Miss Muffett.  For us, rhyming comes naturally and doesn't require much strenuous thought.  Even slant rhyme comes easily to people who have grown up immersed in rhyme.

Starting in Kindergarten, the Common Core expects students to recognize and produce rhyming words. (RF.K.2A) But what can we do about the students who didn't grow up with nursery rhymes, or whose nursery rhymes were proverbs or folk tales, and didn't rhyme at all?  What about ESL students who speak languages in which there is no equivalent translation for "rhyme?" I've got some ideas to help you- read on!

1. Expose and immerse

We all read read-alouds in our classroom, so from day one, point out words that sound the same. Over-enunciate for your listening learners and color-code for your visual learners. Walk down the hallway or enter the room to a chant. Put up a bulletin board with word families and add to it throughout the year. 

2. Narrow your focus

Pick a book like "Hop on Pop," or "One Fish Two Fish," something with a great rhyme scheme.  But don't read the whole book! Pick the page with the word family you want to work on, such as "at" "ish" or "op".  Stick with that sound family until your students are ready to move on.

3. Recognize that some words sound the same 

Provide copies for each student, re-copy onto an easel, or project the page on your SmartBoard.  Read the page a few times: once by yourself, once as an echo-read, once as a choral read, then ask for volunteers.  (We're building fluency and prosody skills, too!) Highlight or point out two of the rhyming words, and ask students what the words have in common.  

4. Identify in context

Once students identify the pattern (same ending sound), create a chant or a cheer to highlight the sound. For example, if I were using this page from One Fish, Two Fish, I would teach the kids to clap each time I land on a rhyming word.  I might leave some words out of my highlighting, and ask them to search for the word I missed. 

5. Produce independently

I would give each student an index card with -ook on it, and we would go through the alphabet trying all kinds of combinations.  In my room, it sounds like this: "A-ook, not a word.  B-ook, book- that's a word!" (Think about your pattern before you start!!!) Once we've generated a list of rhyming words with our sound family, I'd ask my students to create a rhyme.  You can give them a sentence frame like this to fill in if you need to: 
I see a _______
I like to ______
She eats a ____
He has a _____

5. Stick with the pattern

Keep practicing with the same word family.  For students in your class who aren't exposed to rhyme at home, the repetition of one sound family is going to be crucial! Sometimes students will understand that top, mop, and stop sound the same, but cannot understand that wish, fish, and dish rhyme as well.  It's important for them to grasp the concept that words can rhyme.  Starting with one family will give them the foundation they need to make connections with other word families down the line. 

6. Practice makes good

If you're looking for rhyming homework, morning work, or center work, try these great units from some of my friends! 
Word Families - A Pin & Spin Activity

Rhyme Time

Word Puzzlers

The Comfort Zone Challenge

I can't.
I don't know how.
I don't want to.
I'm afraid.

We've all heard these phrases uttered from the mouths of students young and old.  Although some kids are fearless risk-takers, that can't be said for everyone.  As teachers, we are tasked with instructing in the content areas, but we're also responsible for shaping the minds and souls of the leaders of tomorrow.  Students need to learn that taking risks in the classroom, at home, or with friends can be a safe and positive thing to do. How can we deliver that message in an effective and engaging way? Try a Comfort Zone Challenge!

The Comfort Zone Challenge is a 5 day activity geared towards facing fears, enhancing mindfulness, and reflecting.  It works for students, social groups, or even faculty. 

I start the lesson using quote from NASA Astronaut Anne McClain, "If you don't face your fears the only thing you'll ever see is what's in your comfort zone."  

Then, we discuss as a group the meaning of a comfort zone.  You'd be surprised how many kids think it's a pillow! Students often think that stepping outside their zone is a big, bad, and scary, so I give them plenty of time to talk about their fears before moving on.  

As a group or individuals, students visualize themselves IN their comfort zone, and then visualize themselves OUT of their comfort zone.  Then comes the challenge- a series of activities students choose on their own to complete for 5 days straight.

Students can reflect in an interactive notebook, share with a friend, or share with a teacher. At the end of the challenge your group will have faced some of their fears and will have the courage to take on some more! If you're ready to try the challenge yourself, then click here

Teaching Writing with Super Bowl Commercials

Using picture prompts to teach writing is a great way to get kids to write about a multitude of topics, but have you ever tried to use videos instead?  I've got some great ways to get kids writing, speaking, and collaborating using high-interest and engaging Super Bowl commercials!

For this lesson, I'm using my very favorite Super Bowl commercial of all time: the Darth Vader Kid Volkswagen commercial.  You can use any commercial you want, or have students choose their own.  It's super simple to find them on youtube after the big game.

Here's my favorite! It just makes me so happy!

For this lesson, I was trying to reinforce sequencing, and writing with a consistent stream of thought. But this strategy will work for teaching dialogue, problem and solution, character development, really any writing trait and across many grade levels!  

I like to follow the I Do, We Do, You Do method for teaching writing.  I started by giving each student a graphic organizer for the skill we're learning. So, since my students needed a lot of work with structure, I modeled a simple story like Cinderella, but mixed up all the actions.  For example: first, Cinderella went to the ball, next, she was sad because the stepmother ruined her dress, then she tried on the glass slipper, and last, the prince came looking for her.  We discussed how even with the transition words, my story didn't make sense. I then modeled a simple story like the 3 Little Pigs, using our organizer and making the actions sequential.  We talked about what happened first, next, then, and last, and how the story flowed, compared to my Cinderella story, which was all mixed up.

Click the picture to download two free sequence charts!

For the We Do part of my lesson, I showed my commercial.  But here's the kicker: I showed it on MUTE! Leaving the sound off allows students to process the action without the distraction of music or dialogue.  I really wanted them to develop their own ideas about the story without the influence of sound.  As a group, we discussed the first and next part of the video and all filled in our graphic organizers together.

For the You Do part,I had each student fill in the remainder of their graphic organizer. You could easily do this in small groups or as one class story, depending on your objective. And since we're 1:1, I gave each student the link and allowed them to replay the video as often as they needed to come up with their story.

As a closing activity, I invited the students to turn and talk to a partner to share their stories.  Everyone had the same first and next part, but their then, last, and finally had been written independently. We regrouped and watched the video one last time, this time with the sound ON.  An extension or homework activity would be to compare and contrast the original version to the version your students wrote.

There are so many ways to use commercials in your classes- this is just one of them! Have you used ads before? If not, definitely give them a try...you'll be the MVP of your school! For more great writing prompts, check out my Writing Pinterest Board! Follow Everyone Deserves to Learn's board ESL Writing on Pinterest.

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