What is Rhythm? Rhythm is a beat or a pulse. Think heart beat. Think repetition of a sound. Rhythm is everywhere in the thrum of the washing machine, drops of rain, hands clapping. Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. When put together to form a repeatable pattern, you have rhythm. †Rhythm is a central feature of language and speech. In language, rhythm is created when we place emphasis or stress on certain words. Feel the underlying beat of the first lines of this famous rhyme:rhythm
As I was going to St. Ives I met a man with seven wives. The accent of the words creates a steady beat, or rhythm.
†Why do We Need Rhythm? Rhythm is fundamental to the human experience.

parents read
Look at the books on your child's shelf. Chances are you have many rhyming books. Rhyming books are catchy, fun to read, and keep your child's attention. You might not be aware, though, of other incredible benefits swimming below the surface of these innocent little ditty's on a colorful page.

  †What is Rhyme? We all know rhyme when we see it. It's where the patterns of words contain similar sounds. Sam/Ham/Am for instance. (And if you have a child, you can
rhyming wordsname that book in 10 seconds or less.)

  †Why Do We Need Rhyme?
  • It is easier to learn something when it rhymes. We remember rhymes. Rhyme is an effective mnemonic device and can "tag" information, not only making it easy to learn, but also easy to later recall. And rhyming is fun. It's playful.
  • Rhyme helps with reading. There is a correlation between phonological awareness and reading ability. Rhythm helps the child recognize patterns, a fundamental reading skill. It also helps with spelling as there is the ability to infer that two like-sounding words are often spelled similarly. Good rhymers make good readers.
  • Rhyme is calming. Rhyming lines are predictable. There is a soothing quality to rhyme.
  • Rhyme helps brain development. Young children's brains need a blend of repetition and the occurrence of surprise. Rhyme has both.
  • Rhythm, like rhyme, enhances learning. It helps improve our attention skills. Rhythm helps memory (Brower, 1993; Payne & Holzman, 1986; Patel, et al., 1998). Rhythm is predictable, structured, and organized--and our brain likes it!
  • Rhythm is essential for the socialization of infants. It is integral to the coordination of motor activity and locomotion (Iverson & Thelen, 1999).
  • We are hard-wired from birth for rhythm.† In 2009, researchers from Hungary and the Netherlands reported that, by measuring their brain waves when listening to rhythms, day-old infants are able to detect differences between them.
  • Rhythm is a de-stresser.†The rhythmical activity of drumming reversed multiple components of the human stress response believed responsible in the development of common diseases (Bittman, Medical Science Monitor, 2005).
  • Rhythm is a basic element in the construction of more complex human behaviors, such as music and language (Iverson & Thelen, 1999; Patel, et al., 1998).
  • Rhythm is an element of music. "Music making offers extensive exercise for brain cells and their synapses (connections). It would be difficult to find another activity that engages so many of the brain's systems."(Weinberger, N., 1998)
  • Our motor systems naturally entrain, or match, to a rhythmic beat. When a musical input enters our central nervous system, some of it heads straight to motor nerves in our spinal cord. This allows our muscles to move to the rhythm without our having to think about it or "try". It's how we dance to music, tap our foot to a rhythm, and walk in time to a beat. Many young children "rock" to the beat or show it physically in some way before the age of one.
Bring Rhythm Alive Through the Books on Your Shelf Now that you know the massive benefits that rhyme and rhythm provide, youíll want to run to your bookshelf and find the books that can easily promote this. Chicka Chicka Boom BoomThe Chicka Chicka books are great for bringing out the benefits of rhythm. In Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, children learn the alphabet and in Chicka Chicka 1 2 3, they learn numbers (and, of course, a LOT more as you just learned!) The opening page gives a good example of rhyme and rhythm: A told B, And B told C, I'll meet you at the top Of the coconut tree. Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of a rhyming book like this:
  • Read the book often and with engagement. Young children love repetition. Engage them with the large cutout shapes and colors on the page. If they are old enough, encourage them to say some of the words, especially at the end of lines where words rhyme. Remember, memorable!
  • Tap the rhythm as you read. On your leg, on their back, on the book. Or clap the rhythm. It might be helpful for you to see the beat visually. Songs and rhymes can be divided into "measures". Measures help group beats into patterns. †Each measure has a specific number of beats ó most commonly, four beats. Just think "1, 2, 3, 4," and then begin again with "1" in each subsequent measure.
rhythm bar line  
  • Bring out an "instrument." This could be an instrument you've made or purchased. It could be a found object at home. A pan and a wooden spoon make a great drum. Beat out the underlying pulse†pot pan instrumentor heart beat of each phrase as you read. (Or by now, you may know the whole book by heart!) Encourage your child to play with you and no worries if they are not 'on' the beat. Plenty of time for that as they grow.
  • Most of all, HAVE FUN with rhythm!

Share With Us What books do you have at home that lend
themselves to rhythmical activity? Please share your rhythmic
stories and ideas here with others.

AnnieMTCrop-1Annie Keeling, MFA, founder of the Parenting Groove blog, is an educator, writer, music teacher, and parent. She teaches elementary children's group music education classes as well as parent/child early education Music Together classes. The families involved have been a springboard for material involving parenting, music, and education (especially ideas around building respectful behavior of all family members.) Raised by a family therapist who created the 3R's Learning Center for Behavior Education, Annie incorporates many of his teachings in her writing. She has a BS in Dance Therapy and Dance Education from UW-Madison, a Masters in Dance from UCLA, and a Masters in Creative Writing from Goddard College.



Me, me:)!!! Thanks for linking up this week. Much love, Alice @ The Owl's Skull

April 23, 2013 at 2:15 PM comment-delete

:) Thank you for stopping by and reading the article, Alice!

April 23, 2013 at 7:02 PM comment-delete

I love this article. We dance and bang around our house and I hope that we aren't alone. My son is 11 and he plays piano that makes me cry with joy. Rhythm since he was an infant, I'm sure, set the course for great life.

April 23, 2013 at 9:32 PM comment-delete

Thank you for your comment. It sounds like your son is lucky having a wonderful home environment and support. I am sure that your love for what he does as well as the rhythm development since an infant has helped him grow!
No, you are not alone! In fact, the purpose of this blog is to make many more families "dance and bang with joy".
Thank you for sharing!

April 23, 2013 at 10:18 PM comment-delete

Hi Maria
What a wonderful post! These tips are fabulous for parents of young kids especially. I am a special education / literacy teacher of Junior Kindergarten to grade two students, and rhyme particularly is so important in early literacy. Rhythm is really helpful for pacing with kids who read slowly and for the fun factor, too! I'll share this post for sure!

April 27, 2013 at 10:29 AM comment-delete

Ida Mae,

Thank you for your comment! Yes, rhythm is indeed so important in early literacy development. At the same time, as one of the main components in music, young children acquire rhythm and movement very easily.
The author of the guest article, Annie Keeling provides wonderful suggestions for parents to embrace rhythm and literacy! I am happy to be able to share her expertise.

April 28, 2013 at 6:04 PM comment-delete

Thanks for linking up!! This post really hit home this week, as we just started re-reading some nursery rhymes in the Alice house. I'll be featuring this next week:)!! Be sure to stop back!! Alice @ The Owl's Skull

April 29, 2013 at 8:19 PM comment-delete

Oh, thank you!

April 29, 2013 at 10:30 PM comment-delete

I haven't seen the Chicka books yet, but I have heard of them. I'l have to look around so we can use them as we start some music classes.

November 7, 2013 at 1:04 AM comment-delete

Crystal, let me me know how it goes after you look at the books and think about music activities. I am actually starting a music workshop at a preschool and I will be using and letting parents now about activities to do at home myself.
Thank you for your comment.

November 7, 2013 at 7:15 AM comment-delete

This is fantastic. Yes, all of the kids books are in rhyme. We memorize poems and it's easier for the kids to memorize. Actually rhyme helps with learning, helps with literacy. Everything. This is so right on.

Thanks for this post Maria. This is awesome!

December 10, 2013 at 3:18 PM comment-delete

This is such a fun post. I have an advanced reader and we never had a shortage of music or rhyming books in the house - hmmmm... ; ) Fantastic and detailed post. Thank you for sharing with us and for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Sharing on twitter...

April 2, 2014 at 10:50 AM comment-delete

This was a fascinating post, thank you so much for joining with us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

April 2, 2014 at 1:07 PM comment-delete

A voracious reader myself, I have shared my love of the written word with my son and daughter since they were in utero. Thank you for such an interesting and insightful post!

April 3, 2014 at 6:44 PM comment-delete

A great post about the connection between music and reading. In my high school English classes, we always talk about the musicians who are first poets, and the authors who hear the music and then write the words. Thanks for joining the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

April 7, 2014 at 9:38 AM comment-delete

Great post! Very interesting to read all of the benefits of rhyme and the relationship to music. I'm a huge advocate of musical education and insist that my children take music lessons in one way shape or form. It's so sad to see music programs being cut from schools. Our school district is in the process of axing our strings program. It's so discouraging. Thanks so much for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

April 12, 2014 at 5:26 PM comment-delete

I love this post! People always say that math is the universal language but I've always thought music was. Integrating it into education early on is a beautiful idea. I know that getting a musical education was always high on our priority list when my kids were little and now that they are pre-teens and teenagers, it still is!

Love and Luck,

Laurali Star


April 24, 2014 at 10:13 AM comment-delete

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