How to Rhyme: Hand Motions for Kindergarten


Teach how to rhyme in kindergarten with simple hand motions. Here is one way to make rhyming orally easier to teach in kindergarten.

How to Rhyme Hand Motions for Kindergarten

I found myself asking, “How do I teach kindergartners how to rhyme?”

And not just how to identify two words that rhyme, but to make their own rhyming words.

If you asked me this question my first year of teaching, I would’ve responded – “It’s just something they know or don’t know.”

That answer is only partially true. There is a developmentally ready piece that helps make a student hear, identify and produce rhyming words. I won’t deny that.

But it doesn’t mean we can’t explicitly teach students how to produce rhyming words orally.

Teach how to rhyme in kindergarten to rhyme in kindergarten

And I focus on producing rhyming words orally, because to model how to make rhyming words with letters would be a little over most of the kids’ heads at the very beginning of the school year.

How to teach rhyming words orally

I’ve learned since my first year of teaching that making a visual and kinesthetic clue – a hand motion – helps my kinders understand what I’m asking for and are more likely to use them independently as a strategy later on.

And in this case – we’re talking rhyming.

So here are my hand motions I came up with to teach how to rhyme that really worked for us. The neat thing? They will also lend themselves to teaching onset and rime. Yay!

Essentially teach them how to isolate the beginning sound(s) (onset) and replacing it with a new one – while keeping the end of the word intact.

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By using these hand motions, students could better “feel” the sounds as they said them out loud.

Using these motions, they were better at segmenting and blending onsets and rimes – not to mention that they caught on much quicker to hearing rhymes and making them on their own.

I started showing them how to rhyme using your motions and within a few days, they got it. I can see a difference between last year’s class and this one. I can just go down the rows on the rug and they give me a rhyming word like popcorn. No more “Give me a word that rhymes with snake,” — “Alligator??” – Ruth

Let’s wrap it up

I hope this set of hand motions can be helpful to you and your class of kinders.

Just as I tell my kinders emphatically… the more we practice, the better we get!

Ready to work on more skills? Let’s master the alphabet with some of my favorite free downloads.

6 free alphabet identification printables

Or let’s go the next step with those who are ready and blend onsets and rimes!

Rhyming and Blending Onsets and Rime

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More reading skills

How to Rhyme (Hand Motions) for Kindergarten

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  1. I’m just now finding your site in 2018! I am amazed at your teaching strategies and ideas! I am feeling so inspired. Thank you and I hope you continue to teach adults how to teach 🙂

  2. Brilliant! Love how simple it is to remember too. Thank you for posting a video. I have used hand motions and music for many years, but it is always great to learn a new trick!

  3. Have you thought about making a poster for each essential reading foundation as a reminder to the kids for which exercise you would be teaching/practicing (since we know it’s a daily think in Kindergarten? 1 poster for rhyming, 1 for blending, 1 for segmenting, etc
    Ps: what reading program do you use? Do you follow the daily oral language part (if your program includes one)?

    1. I haven’t, but do you mean like a visual cue including a reference to the hand motions {for example}? We have Journeys… but the boxes have yet to be opened in all honesty. I just do my own thing. I’m really big on using the standards to create my own curriculum.
      – Leslie

  4. I swear you read my mind! I have been thinking about this since I started teaching kindergarten but kept working with the reading curriculum I was provided. This makes so much sense! Thank you!

    1. Ha ha! It can definitely be tricky to teach the concept for a five year old to understand. I wanted to first just tell them that rhyming words were rhyming words because they rhymed 😉 You’re welcome!
      – Leslie

  5. Oh my goodness, I wish I had seen this earlier! My kiddos (special ed) really, really struggle with rhyming and onset/rhyme. I LOVE this. They really learn better with a visual/kinesthetic motion. I’m starting this tomorrow!

    Extra Special Teaching

  6. I teach my Pre K kids the letter sounds with a hand motion- motor memory really helps them learn quickly. I can also use it as a tool to help when they forget the letter sound/name. I also taught sound first then letter name.

    1. Oh yes! Incredibly key in teaching sounds! I used to always teach the sign language and still did this year, but mione really caught onto making a movement/motion that connected with the leap frog letter factory video that we watched the first week of school. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      – Leslie

  7. Awesome post, Leslie! Some of my kinderkids continue to have a difficult time with rhyme. This will be a great “tool” to add to my tool box! Thank you for sharing!
    Did want to let you know that some of your links to additional resources are not working :o(
    (By the way, Paige just watched the video with me and she is now walking around using the hand movements, breaking words into onsets and rimes and substituting those initial phonemes! Ha!)

    1. HA! Paige is such a cutie – I can just picture her doing that now! Thanks for the heads up about the items – the twofulbrighthugs site was live when I posted this, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they come back soon!
      – Leslie

  8. Thank you so much for this great post. We will be working on rhyming in our RTI groups in January, so the timing is perfect. You’ve given great tips and great links.

  9. This is a super easy tip that any teacher can implement! I’m moving down to first grade next year and this will be great when we review word families at the start of the year!

    Down Under Teacher

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