Using rhyme stories for speech and language therapy is like driving your car on cruise control. The rhyme takes over the cadence, intonation, and length so we can focus on the content. Communication requires expectation. Someone says something, and we respond. Someone asks a question that we then answer. The rhyme naturally delivers this expectation through the rhymed syllable sound or word.
Rhyme stories can be as short and simple as Humpty Dumpty or as advanced as a full storybook poem like Room on a Broom.
Rhyme Stories are great for therapy because:
- You can find simple to complex rhymes to easily match even the most profound communication deficits.
- Many students have familiarity with rhymes.
- Rhymes are present in all cultures.
- Rhymes easily enable the production of longer utterances by employing meter and relying on repetitious phrasing.
- There are many opportunities to use past, present, future, and even conditional tense.
- Rhythms present in the rhymes create natural opportunities for whole body and kinesthetic movements.
- Phonological syllable-building is aided by clapping or tapping the beat.
- Many rhymes have moral or ethical themes embedded in their message.
How to use Rhyme Stories in Speech Therapy
The Gruffalo is a great example of the power of rhyme. It is a full text story including location, characters, problems, and solutions. A mouse invents a monster to scare off other animals who want to eat him but winds up meeting an actual Gruffalo in the end. Let’s use it as an example for what we can accomplish in speech therapy.
The Gruffalo / El Gruffalo
by Julia Donaldson
|/r/, /s/high use of fricatives
|/r/, /r/ blends, /s/
|Possessive pronouns, conditional tense. Descriptions of body parts and inferencing on the part of the animals as to what would happen to them if they met the Gruffalo.
|Past tense structure, especially irregular verbs (e.g. tiene, fue, vió, era)
|Body parts- eyes, teeth, claws and other invented body parts.
Multiple animals, forest words.
|Body parts- ojos, dientes, garras, etc.
|“Where” use every other page.
|“Qué” use every other page.
|Macrostructure- story elements, structure, organization of a narrative
|Sequencing, story elements (characters, setting, problem, solution, initiating event, character intentions and desires, moral)
Rhyme Stories, Games, and Activities
Rhymes = action and most rhymes have been around for a long time. Do an internet image search for YOUR BOOK + ACTIVITY and you will find a treasure trove of masks, games, songs, catapults, to adapt for therapy. The sky is truly the limit. For The Gruffalo, you can even go to www.Gruffalo.com! Some of our favorites for the Gruffalo include:
- Anatomy charts for the Gruffalo’s amazing body parts.
- Lunch bag puppets to eat the animals with
- Animal story-sequencing activities
- Pantomime hand movements for each repeated rhyme:
- terrible tusks
- terrible claws
- terrible teeth
- in his terrible jaws.
Rhyme Books for Speech Therapy
Description of Story
|Green Eggs and Ham
Huevos verdes con jamon
|Plot: Sam-I-am persistently asks: “Do you like green eggs and ham?” through a traveling, rhyming story.
Why we like it: This book as memorable and unmistakable characters and signature rhymes. Also helpful with reading goals.
|Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
|Plot: 26 characters of the alphabet make their way to the top of a coconut tree before the tree bends from the weight.
Why we like it: The book adds familiar order using the alphabet to the rhyme which makes it easy to follow and memorize. The children can relate to everyone wanted to join in on the fun but there being too many!
|Sheep in a Jeep
|Plot: A flock of hapless sheep drive through the country in this rhyming picture book.
Why we like it: Lots of action words and onomatopoeia. High use of fricative sounds and kids love watching what all goes wrong when the sheep try to drive.
|I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!
|Plot: A child paints the walls, then the ceiling, then himself before his mother comes in.
Why we like it. This book rhymes to the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.” It is a nice change of pace grammatically. Lots of opportunities to describe colors, do painting projects, and discuss behavior.
|Tanka Tanka Skunk!
|Plot: This a rhyming book about rhyming. Skunk and Tanka use inventive words to create a beat on drums.
Why we like it: This book is really fun and uses made up words. It helps for utterance expansion and kids love to tap the beat out on the table top so it helps with producing more syllables.
|Llama Llama Red Pajama
La llama llama rojo pijama
|Plot: Baby Llama turns bedtime into an all-out llama drama when he wants his mama.
Why we like it: Good way to express wants and needs, deal with fears, and make requests. Good use of plural words and initial /r/ words.
|Giraffes Can’t Dance
Las jirafas no pueden bailar
|Plot: Gerald the giraffe’s legs are too skinny and his neck is too long to be able to dance but then he gets up the courage.
Why we like it: It teaches acceptance of yourself and others and also teaches discovering unknown abilities. Great book for description, body parts, animal vocabulary, and self-esteem.
|Frog on a Log
|Plot: Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, and frogs sit on logs. Each animal’s designated seat rhymes with that animal’s name. The cat explains: “It’s about doing the right thing.” The frog does not want to!
Why we like it: Power to the little people for standing up for what they want! Great rhyming, sequencing, and categorization.
|Plot: Mouse goes for a walk in a dangerous forest. To scare off his enemies he invents tales of a fantastical creature called the Gruffalo which turns out to be real.
Why we like it: Great repetitive rhyme. Filled with almost all target sounds. Amazing description, forest and animal vocabulary.
|Plot: The Lorax protects the planet from mindless progress. A timely message and a bonus that most kids know the plot from the movie.
Why we like it: Full of /r/, /l/, /s/ sounds and clusters. Lots of questions and answers and opportunities to make prediction based on behavior.
Content for this essay adapted from Literacy-Based Speech and Language Therapy Activities. Use it to create powerful language therapy using predictable books, and much, much more!