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Where Speech-language Pathologists find ideas, activities and materials.

Reading and Rhyme – Do We Really Have Time?

“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water…”

Remember poor Jack and Jill? What about the whimsical rhyme about the cat who played the fiddle and the cow who jumped into outer space? These nursery rhymes may seem like silly non-sense, but they actually serve a purpose.

Rhyming helps children notice the sounds that make up words (phonological awareness), which is important to reading acquisition. Because children with speech and/or language disorders are at a higher risk for reading problems, it is even more important that we make sure they are exposed to activities that promote sound awareness.

Do we really have time?
While we can’t possibly cover everything children need to learn during our sessions, we can make sure that they are at least exposed to some of them, including rhymes. Here are some ideas to make this happen…

Encourage caregivers to read nursery rhymes to their child. They can also sing or play songs that contain rhymes. Let them know that it isn’t just a silly activity, but serves a real purpose.

Use nursery rhymes in your sessions. Find rhymes that go with your goals and use them in your session. Sing the songs, say the rhymes, use felt storyboards, or act it out with puppets to make the stories come to life. Here are some examples…

If you are working on…You could use this rhyme.
Over…………Jack be Nimble
Up/down……Hickory Dickory Dock
Body parts…The Hokey Pokey
Weather…….It’s Raining It’s Pouring

For the words and origins of many common (and some not so common) nursery rhymes, visit

Becky Wanca

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