Rhyming word games

Alex Case
Fun activities for words ending with the same sounds

Although poems and songs are the most obvious ways to introduce the idea of rhyming words, nothing beats the games below for controlled practice of a stack of useful words which end with the same sounds. These games are also useful for combining rhyming with other language points like silent letters, homophones, (regular and/ or irregular) plurals and (regular and/ or irregular) verbs.

Many of the games below can be made easier (but still useful) by allowing things that rhyme but are not English words, perhaps with bonus points for words which are actually in the dictionary.

Rhyming words guessing games

Rhyming and other hints game

Students choose a word which has rhymes and gives the rhymes and other hints until their partner guesses which they are thinking of, e.g. saying “It rhymes with table. It means you can. It’s an adjective” until their partner guesses “Able”.

Rhyming words hangman

This is a variation on the popular spelling game Hangman, but with the students using rhyme to give hints and help them guess the spelling. This can work by:

  • students simultaneously guessing the letters in two or more rhyming words (“_ _ _ _ _ – _ _ _ _ _” for “house – mouse”)
  • students guessing the letters to go in a word which rhymes with the hint word (“boat – _ _ _ _” for “note”, perhaps with more rhyming word hints later if they get stuck)

After a few rounds of the teacher testing them, groups of students can make similar challenges for other groups.

Rhyming words pelmanism

Make cards which each have a word which rhymes with at least three others in the pack, e.g. 24 cards which all rhyme with “caught”, “found” or “grown”. Students spread the cards across the table and take turns trying to find rhyming pairs. This is most fun with the cards face down, but can be done first or instead with them face up to make it quicker and easier.

Rhyming words tennis

Students “serve” with words which have rhymes and “return” with rhyming words, with a point being given to the server if the returner says something that doesn’t rhyme or gives up, or to the returner if the server can’t think of a suitable next word or serves with a word which has no rhymes. This takes too much thinking time to work with a ball, but could be done with a balloon to bounce until they think of the next word, or with an imaginary ball. 

Rhyming words brainstorming races

Say and/ or write up a word with sounds or spelling that you want to practise such as “passes” and give groups of students around five minutes to brainstorm as many words rhyming with it as they can. If you want to score, they then get a point for any which really rhymes and which other groups didn’t think of. 

As well as or instead of bonus points for words which are real English words (as suggested in the introduction above), you could also give bonus points for rhyming words that meet other criteria like:

  • being related to the present topic (e.g. being about nature or about work)
  • being in the list of words that you prepared beforehand
  • not being in the list of words you prepared beforehand
  • having the same number of syllables and/ or stressed syllable as the original word (so that they would be easy to use in a poem)

You could then get students to use the lists that they brainstormed in other ways such as making up poems (or just paired rhyming couplets) with lines ending in some of those words.

Written by Alex Case for EnglishClub.com
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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