Most days will find us singing silly rhymes and songs, making up nonsense words, and having fun with sounds. I make a conscious effort to incorporate this type of activity into our day because preschoolers love creating and hearing rhymes, and learning how to form the sounds. Understanding the sounds in words is important step on the path to literacy – after all, how can they read it if they don’t know the underlying sound?
On a walk through the woods recently, we played a rhyming game with the flowers around us. We used the names of the flowers (at least the ones I knew), or colors, or something else distinct about the flowers as inspiration. For instance, after spying some Queen Anne’s Lace, my 4 year old yelled out “Lace, lace, puppy base!” Or when we saw a patch of yellow flowers, we said, “Let’s be mellow with the yellow, fellow.” Of course, none of these rhymes really make sense, but they helped my sons understand what rhymes are, and they created a lot of giggles.
When we came upon a patch of chicory, I sang the poem to my sons that my mom sang to me as a child:
“Chickery chick, cha-la, cha-la
Check-a-la romey in a bananika
Bollika, wollika, can’t you see
Chickery chick is me”
(from Chickery Chick, by Sylvia Dee)
(When I looked up these lyrics to credit the writer, it turns out that it is actually a song about a chicken who was bored saying “chick chick,” not, as we had always thought, about the wildflower chicory!)
The best news about playing with sounds with your little ones is the ease with which you can work it into your day (and likely already do, perhaps without even knowing it!). Grab any Dr. Suess book- they are full of wonderful sound play. Whether singing a song about a chicken who broke out of his mold, or creating rhymes in nature, playing with sounds is a fun, and important, way to give your little ones a boost in their path to reading.