English is not known for its regularity. Therefore, when teachers find
something that can be made regular, we latch onto it as a teaching tool.
One of these tools is a list of rimes, also called chunks by some teachers:
groups of letters that sound the same in many words, thus making the words
When children understand that these groups have the same sound wherever
they read them and the same spelling whenever they write them, they can
learn many words with very little additional effort.
Working together with these rimes can lead not only to increased reading,
spelling and writing independence, but to an enhanced vocabulary for children.
You can turn it into a game for learning new words.
When working with small groups of students, I give clues about the word
so that children can guess what it is. They also try to lead each other
and me to guess their words that include the rime.
I was recently working with a small group, using the chunk ank.
Some of the clues I gave were: Itís a place where people go to get money.
Itís what a boat did when it went underwater. Itís what you do when you
pull something away from somebody quickly.
This process can shed a light on the way children hear. One of them gave
as his clue, ďItís something that you can eat.Ē Nobody was able to guess
what it was, so we asked him to tell us. His word was cake. I had
to explain that cake did not rhyme with bank, sank,
Note that the rime can appear anywhere in the word. Thus Frankenstein,
and cranky are also acceptable.
You may find that working with magnetic letters on a cookie sheet or the
refrigerator door is a fun way to work with these. That way, the rime can
stay in place and other letters around it can be moved around easily.
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís
Advice for Parents.