Play with Sounds and Letters

Have fun with the way words sound!

By the time your child is 2, you and your toddler have sung “Down by the Bay” and other songs with lots of rhymes. You’ve read in Dr. Seuss’s ABC, how “Silly Sammy Slick/Sipped six sodas/And got sick, sick, sick.” Children learn so much from this kind of playing with sounds.

Soon, when they try to read an unfamiliar word like wide, they may notice the rhyme ide because they can read the name of the laundry detergent Tide.  But before they can do this, they must recognize and speak rhymes.

As soon as children can sing a song or recite verse with rhyming, they are ready to learn more about rhyming. Again, your youngster can learn a lot from playing with the language in books you read with her. Take a simple story like Dr. Seuss’s There’s a Wocket in my Pocket (Seuss, 1974). Read through the first time just to enjoy the story. Most children will want to hear the story again. The re-readings can really help children to develop what language arts researchers call phonemic awareness, the ability to notice and manipulate the sounds of spoken words. Re-read the first page: “Did you ever have the feeling there’s a wasket in your basket?” After re-reading the first page, you can ask, “Did you notice a word that sounded funny? Wasket sounds funny. Do you know what a wasket is? I guess that’s one in the basket. Do you think waskets are real? It’s fun to say wasket and basket, isn’t it? They rhyme. Let’s find some other rhymes. Tell me when you hear a rhyme. Tell me the rhyming words you notice.” Reading through the book like this helps children develop the ability to rhyme, and that will be very useful to them as they continue learning to read.