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Rhyming Cups

Sweet Pea is 4 years old.

From: Allison from No Time for Flash Cards shared this great way to teach your tot about rhyming words.


  • A list of 5 simple words plus 4 or 5 words that rhyme with each of them.  Here are some options:
    • bug: hug, jug, mug, plug, rug, drug, slug, smug, tug
    • cat: bat, chat, fat, flat, gnat, hat, mat, pat, rat,  sat, scat, splat, that, vat
    • dog: hog, log, bog, frog, jog, smog,
    • pig: big, dig, fig, jig, sprig, swig, twig, wig
    • sun: bun, done, fun, none, nun, one, pun, spun, stun
  • About 25 craft sticks
  • Thin lined permanent marker (I love the new Mark It ones from Bic.  They come in lots of colors and write on almost everything.)
  • 4-5 Small cups.
  • Painter’s masking tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Basket or bowl to hold the rhyming flags.


  • Place a piece of tape on each cup.
  • Use the marker to write the first word in each rhyming set on it’s own cup.
  • Lay out a long strip of masking tape, face up on a table.
  • Place the craft sticks about 2 inches apart along the tape.
  • Place a second piece of tape directly over the first piece, “sealing” the craft sticks between them.
  • Cut the tape to separate the craft sticks and create a tape “flag” on each one.
  • Clearly print one word on the front (and back) of each “flag”.
  • Place all of the craft sticks in a basket.
  • Remind your tot that rhyming words are words that have the same ending sound.  Give a couple of examples (“cat” and “bat”) and encourage your tot to think of a word that rhymes with them (“I can think of something that rhymes with “cat”. You put it on your head…”)
  • Explain that you are going to place the flag sticks in the cup that has the correct rhyming word.
  • Read the word on each cup out loud.
  • Invite your child to select a flag stick from the basket.
  • Either have your child read the word on the flag, or read it for them.
  • Ask you child to place the flag stick in the cup that contains the word that rhymes.
  •  If your tot needs more help, say the word on the flag and then repeat the words on each of the cups again.  For example, if your tot selects a stick with the word “hog” on it, you could point to the first cup and say “This says “cat”.  Does ‘hog -og -og -og’ have the same ending sound as ‘cat -at -at -at’ “?
  • Repeat the procedure for all of the rest of the sticks in the basket.

Observations: Sweet Pea had a hard time at first and I had to help her a lot.  She started catching on after 4 or 5 sticks and did seem to like it, but only placed about half of the flag sticks before getting silly.

I have noticed that Sweet Pea has a hard time coming up with rhyming words (one of the reasons that I introduced this activity) and I think this activity was just a tiny bit too difficult for her.  We started off well, but it just didn’t quite hold Sweet Pea’s interest.  I suspect that she will like it better in another few months.

I intentionally added some “tricky” rhyming words such as “none” to put in the “sun” cup and Sweet Pea found those impossible without my help.  I think that would be a good idea for an older child who is a little more comfortable with rhyming, but I wish I wouldn’t have done it this time.

Notes from the Trenches:

We used small plastic Dixie cups which were okay, but they fell over a lot. Heavier cups would probably work better.

Rating: 3 Stars * (Easy, Independent, Frugal)

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