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The Role of Rhyme and Alliteration in Preschool


The figure of speech of alliteration and the literary device of rhyming words are instrumental in helping preschool students wrap their heads around the concepts being taught in school. Preschool is a time where children are allowed to be children, while also being introduced to the basics of formal education. However such literary tools can play a much bigger role than what meets the eye. Here we will be discussing how rhyming words and alliteration will be helpful for preschool students.

What is Alliteration?

Alliteration can be defined as the subsequent repetition of identical sounds in the same line in such a  way that the repetition of a few closely spaced words sounds aesthetically pleasing. Alliteration is often used as a figure of speech in poetry for this very purpose. Here are a few examples of alliteration used in famous poems:

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, —

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping…”

- The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe

“Scarce from his mold

Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheaved

His vastness.”

- Paradise Kist, John Milton

“He was four times a father, this fighter prince:

one by one they entered the world,

Heorogar, Hrothgar, the good Halga

and a daughter, I have heard, who was Onela´s queen,

a balm in bed to the battle-scarred Swede.”

- Beowulf, as translated by Seamus Heaney

Importance of Alliteration for Preschoolers

These, as can be seen, are useful to bring about a poetic touch to a piece of work and make it seem more enticing, but they also serve a different purpose for preschool students:

Pay Attention to The Way They Read

Alliteration encourages them to pay greater attention to the way they read, hence allowing them to discern the types of variations in pronunciations they might come across when reading.

Become Faster Readers

Alliteration helps children think about the very idea of reading in a different way -- they will pay greater attention to the sounds that certain letters make when they are grouped together. This will help them sound out words that they might consider more difficult. This will, in turn, help them become faster readers in the long run.

Apply Emphasis

A common way alliteration is used is for the purpose of emphasis. It occurs even in everyday speech in phrases like:

  • Tittle-tattle
  • Bag and baggage
  • Bed and board
  • Primrose path
  • Through thick and thin
  • Look before you leap
  • Tit for tat

Activities to Teach Alliteration in Class

Alliteration, as can be seen, can be quite useful in certain everyday situations as much as they do in poetry, which is the basic reason why there is such an emphasis on teaching the same to preschool students. Some of the ways this can be done are as follows:

Color Game

Organize a group activity where the teacher can start the alliteration string with a random color. Ask the children, one after the other, to come up with a person, place, or thing that has the same beginning sound as that color. For example, if the teacher starts with red, the student can continue the thread with ribbon, robin, roses, etc. This not only helps students come across different types of words they might not have come across prior to this exercise, it can also help them with improving their creativity.

Name Game

This is another activity that can be done easily. The teacher can randomly call out a student’s name and ask them to come up with a word that alliterates with the same.

For example, if the name being called out is Sara, the student can say words like "scissors, sand, super, soil, straight, and so on. Since the students are directly involved, they will feel included in the class and feel like participating more, hence improving engagement.

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Animal Game

The idea behind this activity is still pretty much the same as the ones before, with a little bit more learning squeezed in. Here, the object in question is animals. The teacher can ask a student to give the name of an animal at random or even suggest an animal themselves. Following this, each student can be given a chance to add a word that alliterates with the names of those animals. The students will get to learn a lot of new words, while the teacher can also sneak in a few facts about the said animal while they are at it.

What is Rhyme?

Rhyming words are essentially words that end with the same sound. They are different from alliteration in the sense that the latter is characterized by the repeated sound being placed in the beginning rather than in the end. Rhyming words are also aesthetically pleasing when used in the right context, and are often employed in songs because they add a certain rhythm to a text. A few examples of rhyming words are:

  • Sit, lit, pit, chit, writ, quit, etc.
  • Ate, plate, trait, fate, berate, vacate, slate, etc.
  • Wire, tire, liar, fire, dire, conspire, etc.

As can be seen, rhyming words need not necessarily have the same letters at the end, they just have to sound the same.

Importance of Rhyme

Rhyme is essential to preschool students for a number of reasons:

Helps Students Remember Things Better

Rhyming words offer students a rhythm to their utterances, which helps them remember what they were learning better. Children tend to remember songs more than what they learn by rote learning, and it is quite apparent in the way they recollect the two.

Gives Students an Early Introduction to Phonemic Awareness

Phonemes are the smallest units of sounds that are used to construct words. This improves the average student’s ability to notice and work with the sounds in the English language. This awareness can help in reading and writing success in the long run.

Better Reading Skills

Rhyme also helps children learn to read structures and patterns of both spoken as well as the written language. Since songs and rhymes expose the child to the rhythm of the language, this will help them read with a certain animation in their voice instead of a plain monotone.

Activities to Teach Rhyme in Class

Nursery Rhymes

The above advantages are the reason why students are prompted to learn nursery rhymes in preschool. The repetitive nature of nursery rhymes sets the tone for learning by repetition, which will help them in the long run.

Rhyme Game

This is a simple activity that does not require any time to set up. The teacher can ask a student to start with a word and ask subsequent students to follow suit, following the same rhyme scheme. This has a couple of advantages. The first one is that it prompts them to think on their feet, hence improving their critical thinking skills. The second is that it helps improve their vocabulary as a lot of words are thrown around.


So, as can be inferred, rhyme and alliteration can have a profound impact on preschool students, and hence should be an essential part of the curriculum. It offers a multifaceted learning approach to them at a very young age which can benefit them eventually.

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