Standard Lesson

Hey Diddle, Diddle! Generating Rhymes for Analogy-Based Phonics Instruction

Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 30- to 75-minute sessions
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In this lesson, shared reading, guided reading, and small, cooperative-group instruction are used in a first-grade classroom to informally assess students' ability to demonstrate awareness of rhyme or other visual similarities in words. Students practice matching rhyming words using picture cards and apply phonological awareness—hearing rhyme—to analogy-based phonics (i.e., an ability to decode unknown words by identifying words with similar visual structure). Students use online resources to increase phonological awareness through rhyme.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Identifying individual sounds of words, phonemes, in "sound boxes" and noticing that the visual similarity of an ending cluster of letters in known words may help students decode a new word. It may rhyme if the ending cluster is the same visually. Sound boxes will help increase students' visual sensitivity to clusters of phonemes, but they should also be used for more than just initial consonant manipulation in other lessons.

  • Phonemic awareness is increased by helping students identify and manipulate phonemes.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

Materials and Technology

  • Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge (Sterling Publications, 2001)

  • Chart paper, writing paper, and pencils

  • Pocket chart




1. Copy the poem "Hey Diddle, Diddle" onto poster-size chart paper.

2. Print the Rhyming Picture Cards and cut out the pictures. You might laminate the sheets before cutting to make the cards more durable for student use.

3. Create two word frames to isolate words on the poster-size chart paper. These word frames will help to show visually similar rhyming words.

4. Obtain a copy of the book Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge to use for guided reading. If you are not able to locate a copy of this book, you may select another book that fits the reading level of your students and uses the words or word patterns learned during the lesson.

5. Gather other developmentally appropriate books or leveled readers for guided reading during the lesson.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Identify words with visual similarities in the context of a poem

  • Recognize words that sound the same at the end and understand that the words rhyme

  • Apply phonological awareness to help identify unknown words in context

  • Write new words using analogy-based phonics

Instruction and Activities

The classroom management and organization of the literacy block may be structured as follows:

  • Shared reading (20 minutes)

  • Collaborative small-group work (10-15 minutes)

  • Guided reading (40 minutes)

Work with small groups of students in 15-minute blocks while other students are at centers doing individual or cooperative work.

Session 1 Shared Reading

1. Display the poem "Hey Diddle, Diddle" on poster-size chart paper. Read the poem aloud, pointing to each word as you read it. Then ask students to participate in a shared reading where they join in with words they know.

2. Have students identify words in the poem that are the same in some way. (Students may identify words that begin or end with the same phoneme, words that rhyme, or any other similarity that they notice.) Use the word frames that you created to frame the two words that students identify and have students repeat what is the same about them. Continue until students identify the words moon and spoon because they have the same ending letters.

3. Explicitly state, "These two words rhyme. They are moon and spoon. Can you hear how they sound the same at the end? That is how I know they rhyme."

4. Show the Rhyming Picture Cards of the moon and spoon. Place the picture cards over the words. By placing pictures over the words, students focus more on the auditory similarity of the two words than on the visual similarity. Since students may not be able to generate the letters associated with the rhyming words, the focus is on the phonological awareness at this point.

5. Reread the poem and have students listen to hear how the words moon and spoon sound the same at the end. Say, "We are going to think of other words that rhyme and substitute them for moon and spoon. Then we'll learn how to read and write those words."

6. Show the other rhyming picture cards. State the word that each card stands for. Then display the cards in a pocket chart.

7. Ask students to identify two picture cards that could be put in the place of moon and spoon because they rhyme. Have a student come to the pocket chart and choose two pictures that he or she thinks rhyme. Place those picture cards over moon and spoon, respectively.

8. Reread the "Hey Diddle, Diddle" poem again and have students listen to hear if the two picture cards rhyme. (The emphasis is on hearing the words, not yet on the visual appearance of the words.)

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 until all of the rhyming words are identified.

Session 2 Shared Reading

1. Repeat the shared reading of "Hey Diddle, Diddle" with students assuming more responsibility in reading it out loud as you point to each word.

2. For the second reading, substitute a pair of rhyming words that students identified from the rhyming picture cards. Model writing the words using sound boxes as a shared writing experience. The article "The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-on Approach for Teaching Decoding" provides more information about how to use sound boxes to isolate phonemes.

3. Continue substituting a pair of rhyming picture cards into the poem and using sound boxes to write the words as a shared writing experience.

Session 3 Shared Reading

1. Have students read the poem "Hey Diddle, Diddle" aloud together.

2. As a shared writing experience, have a student circle the part of the words moon and spoon that are visually similar. Say, "See how these two words look the same at the end? They both have oon. Since words that look alike at the end may rhyme, you can try to read new words by thinking about words you already know that look the same."

3. Read the story Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball and have students predict words that rhyme with ball based on what would sound right and look right. Model an unknown word, like small, which has a similar ending letter cluster. Explain that since both words end with all, they may rhyme.

Collaborative Small-Group Work

1. Gather students into small groups of four and distribute a set of Rhyming Picture Cards to each group. Tell students that they will be working together in their small group and that each member of the group will need to find a pair of pictures that rhyme.

2. While students are working in their small groups, circulate around the room to informally assess student's ability to recognize rhyming pictures. This is a formative assessment that should guide further instruction for particular students. [Formative assessment helps to guide instruction by determining individual student needs at a particular point in time. This type of assessment is different from summative assessment, which is based on student achievement over a longer period of time.] If students are not able to identify rhymes, more exposure to rhyming patterns and phonological awareness is needed in the context of poems and riddles. The website A Rhyme a Week: Nursery Rhymes for Early Literacy is a good resource for continued exposure to rhyming.

3. As students identify rhyming pairs, ask a few of them to come up to the chart paper to try out their pairs in the context of the poem, "Hey Diddle, Diddle." After the shared reading on Session 2 where you modeled writing words using sound boxes, have students attempt to write the rhyming words that they identified.

Guided Reading

1. Gather a small group of students for guided reading. Use a book in which students can read 90%-95% of the words accurately or another book that uses the words or word pattern that students have been learning.

2. Have students identify new words in the book by using analogy-based phonics prompts. "You know cat looks like this new word (bat). What part of cat is the same as this new word? (Answer: at). Since they look the same at the end, the words may rhyme. What word rhymes with cat, but starts with b?"

3. While a small group of students are reading the book with you, have other students practice making new words that have visually similar letter clusters at the end using the interactive Construct-a-Word. Students create rhyming words by adding a beginning consonant to a word ending. Students can print the list of words that they make and read them aloud to a partner.


Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Teacher observation and anecdotal notes based on class discussion: Notice the student's ability to generate rhyming pairs

  • Running Records to assess guided reading and student's ability to use analogy to decode and read new words

  • Student's ability to write rhyming words using sound boxes: Were students able to isolate individual phonemes or apply analogy to write new words?

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