Here’s a simple, cheap way to practice rhyming words and word families with your preschooler. It’s also a great way to review phonics. Don’t go out and buy word family review cards at the homeschooling supply store or teacher’s store! It’s so easy to make them yourself. Using a set of 3×5 notecards, or even just 3×5 pieces of paper you’ve cut yourself, you can have an instant learning activity that’s fun and fast, and provides a meaningful learning experience for your child.

First, review basic letter sounds with your child. (Please note: This is an advanced preschool activity. This activity will be too difficult and frustrating for your little one if he/she isn’t able to recognize and say the sounds of every letter of the alphabet yet.)

Then, once you’re confident in your child’s mastery of basic letter sounds, and you’ve primed their memories for this activity, here’s what you do:

1. Think of as many simple, short words that have the same endings. For example: cat, bat, hat, fat, mat, sat, pat, that, rat, vat. Here’s a great list to help you!
2. Write the ending sound on as many cards as you have words. I had 10 words, so I wrote “at” on 10 cards. Be sure to line your first letter up with the far left side of the card. My “a” was at the far left of each card.
3. Write the beginning sounds of each word on the far right side of more cards. I wrote “c,” “b,” “h,” etc. on 10 cards.
4. Place one card on a magnetic board, the refrigerator, or a clipboard, or a homemade pocket chart (or, of course, a real one if you’ve got it). Or, just do like I did, and lay it out on a table in front of your child.
5. Hide the beginning sounds from your child.
6. Have your child sound out the first ending sound (in our case, it was “at”)
7. Help your child think of words that rhyme with that sound. Place the beginning sounds in front of each word as you name them. Explain how changing just the first letter forms a new word.
8. When you finish, you’ll have a visual list of words that rhyme.
9. After your list is complete, have your child read through them with you.
10. Store them in a baggie, and repeat the exercise later. You’ll begin to see your child’s recognition of these words on his/her own pretty soon! They’ll become “sight words” with repeated practice.