How many times do you hear a child repeat songs, rhymes, or phrases from a book? All of the time? My girls still do this, but when they were much younger, it was even more important to me to encourage these types of ‘word play’. When children rhyme, manipulate and play with sounds, they unknowingly develop their phonemic awareness.  (Click here for more information on Phonemic Awareness.) This awareness ends up benefiting children immensely in their ability to connect sounds in print (decode) and break up those sounds to spell and write (encode).

Check out this video. My daughter, Ava, is singing a song that requires manipulation of the vowel sounds in the beginning, middle and end of words.

Once the child learns the pattern of this song, he/she can use almost any simple word. The one and two syllable words will be the easiest. In this example, Ava uses the words ballet, mommy, Emilia (which she pronounces ‘Milia’), and Ava. Young children also love to talk about people they know so it’s even more fun to use names for this activity.

Here’s how the song works. Let’s use the word ‘dog’ as an example. It goes like this:

  1. Dog, dog, bo bog
  2. Banana, fana, fo fog
  3. Me, my, mo mog
  4. Dog

A two-syllable word might sound like this:

  1. Daddy, daddy, bo baddy
  2. Banana, fana, fo faddy
  3. Me, my, mo maddy
  4. Daddy

Practicing with words in your child’s vocabulary will help him/her really get engaged and want to participate. I suggest modeling the song many times first. Children love to imitate their parents, teachers or caregivers, so they will naturally become interested if you are excited about it first. Plus, the song is super FUN! Once my girls used my brother, Marty’s name. So, you can imagine the reaction they had when they got to this line, ‘Banana, fana, fo farty’!!  So silly!