Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Using Rhythm and Rhyme in Cognitive & Language Development [First Grade]

 by Paula Dugger, M.Ed.

Rhyming has always been a fun way to engage children with stories.  In most instances, nursery rhymes are a child’s first introduction to rhythm and rhyme. As far back as I can remember, these have always been my favorites rhymes .

  • Hickory, dickory dock. The mouse ran up the clock. One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four shut the door.
  • Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. 

These and other fun rhymes from long ago will be embedded in my memory forever. They were easy to learn because of the rhyming words. They were fun to say because of the rhythm from line to line.

Rhymes help us develop an ear for our language and how it works. Rhyme, together with, rhythm highlight sounds and syllables in words. Understanding sounds and syllables help children develop language while learning to read.

We usually think of cognitive development as the construction of thought processes that include remembering and problem solving or “figuring things out”. Rhymes help children understand that some words have similar sounds but different meanings. They contain patterns, and when children begin to learn patterns, they are able to quickly recognize the rhyming. Memory and patterns are crucial in cognitive and language development.

Whether children are new to rhyming, or have some experience with it, they love rhythmic patterns of text. Text of this kind can be found in the titles in Hameray’s  Joy Cowley Collection  that feature a delightful character named Mr. Tang. In these three stories, Mr. Tang takes young passengers along for learning adventures in his taxi. Readers will enjoy following along with the journeys and learning through laughter. 

The variety of text connections, including text-to-self and the inter-text connection between the three titles, place these stories well within the understanding of young children, while constructing knowledge about the subject and developing language skills. Mr. Tang will quickly become a favorite character in your class after you read these low-level, easy-to-read stories. Here’s a quick overview of these humorous stories that are filled with rhythmic patterns and rhymes.


Mr. Tang’s Taxi at the Zoo

In this humorous story, Mr. Tang and his passengers find themselves in the zoo after his taxi jumps over a fence like a kangaroo. Curious zoo animals everywhere make this an exciting adventure for all. Filled with text that contains rhythm and rhyme, the following passages are a great example what the story has in store.

                                                                                            Who wants a ride                                                    

in Mr. Tang’s taxi?                                                   

Get in! Shut the door!                                            

Put on the seat belts!                                         

Feet on the floor!







Mr. Tang’s Taxi at Sea

In this story, Mr. Tang takes his taxi for an underwater adventure. A great big ship and lots of fish make this story one you won’t want to miss. The rhyming text continues to be a highlight of Mr. Tang and his taxi, as in this excerpt below.

                                                                                              We go over the bridge,

over the land,

over the rocks,

and over the sand.








Mr. Tang’s Taxi in the Snow

Adventure and humor abound as Mr. Tang takes his taxi up mountains and through the snow. Even when there is danger and fear, Mr. Tang’s taxi keeps the passengers safe. The text below, from this story, sums up how Mr. Tang’s passengers feel after their rides.

                                                                                             Down the mountain

off we go,

our taxi skiing

on the snow.








Children of all ages will enjoy the rhythm and rhyme found in Mr. Tang’s Taxi books as much as I do! And remember, the texts support cognitive and language development. I’ll leave you with a little rhyme of my own: don’t forget that Hameray has blogs galore, so you’ll want to check back and read some more!


Paula Dugger has a B.S, M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. A former first grade teacher, reading coordinator and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Paula has served as an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University and Dallas Baptist University teaching reading classes for current and future teachers. She also does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC, in addition to writing blogs and early literacy books for Hameray. She can be contacted at   pdugger11@gmail.com

Paula and her husband Neil have two married daughters and are grandparents to Carter, Blake, and Faye. She raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. Her longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing group,   Longhorns . She has authored six additional titles in the   Kaleidoscope Collection Ben & Ruby ,   Buttons ,   Cowboy ,   Dinner ,   Going Up and Down ,   and   Round, Not Round .