Kids love rhymes and rhyming

by Karen Emery. Singing and chanting rhymes with your toddler can have a dramatic impact on their development - especially their early literacy and language skills.

Two girls, one smiling


Toddlers adore rhymes! Singing and chanting rhymes together is not only a fun, creative and child-friendly way of introducing your toddler to words - but it can also really help to develop your child’s language and reading skills.

Rhyming activities can help to increase your toddler’s vocabulary, as your child may hear words in the rhymes that they do not hear in everyday life. Research has shown us that the wider your toddler’s vocabulary is the better a reader they will become.

Exposure to rhymes also helps to teach your child about how a particular word sounds. And it helps them to learn that by changing a letter in a word they can create a rhyming word with a new meaning, e.g. ‘hat’ becomes ‘cat’, ‘moo’ becomes ‘boo’. Most rhymes are repetitive and will encourage your child to memorise and recognise key words, and some rhymes incorporate actions to encourage physical activity.

How CBeebies can help

Nursery rhymes are simple and short with repetitive words and phrases, making them easier for your toddler to understand. They also introduce your child to the concept of stories and many require children to act out the rhyme with actions and physical movement.

Why not click through to the Teletubbies pages on the CBeebies website and take a look at the nursery rhymes featured in the Story Time section. ‘Pat-a-Cake’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ are good examples to chant aloud.

Or you could click on the Story Time section on the Something special page, where there is a lovely game called 'Mr Tumble and the Mini Beasts' It has a wonderful collection of poems/rhymes with rhythmic and repetitive phrases that toddlers will enjoy.

Another show which can introduce your little ones to poetry is Rhyme Rocket. It aims to present poems and rhymes in a fresh and fun way, and has been proven to aid early years literacy development.

How to make a magic moment

Before you begin this session make sure that you can give your child your full attention. This will not only boost your toddler’s self-esteem and self confidence, but will enable your child to learn more as they are more likely to participate.

Rhyming is about rhythm, so try using simple percussions instruments to beat a rhythm as you say or sing the rhyme. This is good activity for encouraging children to think about the pace and rhythm of language. If you can, try to have a selection of different-sounding instruments and allow your toddler to choose which one they want to play.

Keep the beat to a simple rhythm and encourage your child to chant along with you. Don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t join in straight away. Try demonstrating how you would like them to participate. Remember that you lead by example, and if you are enjoying the activity, then it’s likely that your child will too. If your toddler attempts any words or tries to tap out a beat, praise, praise and praise again!

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Top tips

  • Check out your local library or children’s centre for toddler rhyme and song groups.Make up individual rhymes about your child and what they enjoy to encourage them to join in - e.g. 'Harry loves his aeroplane/It whizzes up and down again'Try making up silly rhymes and use silly voices to keep your toddler enthralled. The sillier the rhyme the better! Don’t worry if the rhyme isn’t word perfect - your toddler will simply enjoy listening to and repeating the sounds!Use rhymes to accompany daily activities. They don’t have to be poetic, just try chanting about what you are doing – e.g. 'Daddy washing dishes at the sink, sink, sink/Bert has drawn a doggy and its pink, pink, pink!'Try using calming action rhymes at a bedtime – e.g. 'Go to sleep and close your eyes and dream of magic things/ Of carpet rides, pink butterflies and elephants with wings.'

Expert opinion

Rhymes are a uniquely child-friendly means of introducing babies and toddlers to the wonder of narratives and the imaginative potential that stories found in books can offer.

Bookstart (2011),

Parent's tale

Get in touch with your local library. Most have a weekly Rhyme Time session for the little ones, and they are free.

Pamela, from London

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