Rhyming has long been used as a tool to teach and delight children. In fact, the Center For Early Literacy Learning found that in 12 studies of 5,299 preschoolers, "young children’s ability to recite familiar nursery rhymes was both directly and indirectly related to later literacy and language abilities."
Using fun (and sometimes funny) lyrics and entertaining stories help engage children and keep them giggling while they develop their oral language and early literacy skills. Dancing or specific movements that correlate with the lyrics of a rhyming song can also enhance learning and retention. Look how much fun these kids are having!
In addition to nursery rhymes and rhyming songs, poetry for young children also provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce another text genre and foster fluency. Using poetry in a shared reading activity is also a great way to stimulate peer interaction and develop oral language skills too.
Using poetry in favorite content areas, like animals, is a great way of engaging young readers (just think of all of the animals in poems by Ogden Nash and Dr. Seuss). The Zebra Poem - Run, Zebra, Run! - from the Zoozoo Into The Wild Series pairs simple facts about zebras while enriching vocabularly and making it memorable with an active storyline and rhyme scheme. Notice how the poem below not only spells out the word "zebra," but also has the same ending to each rhyming sentence.
Other poems incorporate lyrical, repetitive rhymes with silly and fun storylines that endear children to recognizable characters (for example, the beloved Mrs. Wishy-Washy & Friends). This way, the child is able to connect with one story after another in a series, indentifying with the plot and recognizable sentence structure.
Do you use rhyming literature or activities to teach your class? Let us know what activities have worked for you; share them with us in the comments below!
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