Toddlers enjoy the way rhymes roll off the tongue and tickle the ear. Whether your tot is creating her own language with nonsensical rhyming words or following along as you read Dr. Seuss or “The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers,” she enjoys rhyming more than regular prose. Rhyming activities improve her vocabulary and prepare her to read.
Children have enjoyed nursery rhymes for millennia, although if you think about the meaning of nursery rhymes such as “Ring Around the Rosie” about the plague or a baby falling out of a tree in “Rock-a-bye Baby, you might not find them so appealing. Encourage your child to say and sing nursery rhymes with you. Suggest that he dance or beat out the cadence with a spoon on an oatmeal box. Teach him finger plays for “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Patty-Cake.” Let him illustrate his favorite nursery rhymes with stickers and magazine pictures.
Many books for young children are written in rhyme. Read Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to your tot and encourage her to say the rhymes with you or guess what the next rhyming word will be. Make up rhyming stories about your child and illustrate them to make them enjoyable and personal. Put the stories in a binder with your child’s picture on the cover and read the stories often. If you read the Bible, substitute family devotional reading with a selection from “The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers” to make your faith practice more enjoyable for her.
Your toddler will enjoy playing rhyming games. Say a word such as “cat” and see how many rhyming words she can tell you. Make rhyming cards by gluing pictures on index cards and have your tot match pictures of words that rhyme, such as “cat” and “hat” or “plane,” “train” and “cane.” Start a sentence in which the last word rhymes with another word in the sentence and have your child try to figure out a suitable ending word.
If you want your toddler to pay attention when you give him directions, formulate the instructions in a rhyme. Say, “The time has come to end our play. Pick up the toys and put them away.” You can set the instructions to music and sing them. In addition, challenge your child to make up rhyming questions and requests or funny rhyming names for your family’s favorite foods or pets. He might create family nicknames based on rhymes, such as “Top Pop” or “Miss Sis.”