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Onset and Rhyme

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 5 months ago

Julie Mcgill









Onset and Rime is part of the early stages for beginning readers to learn how to read. They are the phonological units of a spoken syllable. A syllable can normally be divided into two parts: the onset, which consists of the initial consonant or consonant blend, and the rime, which consists of the vowel and any final consonants. Thus in the word “flank”, “fl” is the onset and “ank” is the rime. Rimes will always have the same spelling. Rhymes will not have the same spelling, but will have the same sound.


Examples of rimes are: ail, bail, tail.

Examples of rhymes are: bell, bail, sale.



Children that who are introduced to onset and rime early in life have a clearer understanding of phonemic segmentation than children that have not been exposed to rhyme. Through exposure to nursery rhymes and chants/songs, children can audibly be able to group words. Before they even begin to learn to read, they are able to recognize the rhymes in words. This exposure will provide them with a positive affect effect on their literacy skills.



Onset and Rime plays an important role in Phonological Awareness (detecting syllables). There has been an ongoing debate over the importance of when onset and rime should be introduced to children and whether children should be taught rime before segmentation. Some believe that segmentation predicts early progress in learning to read (Muter, Hulme, Snowling & Taylor, 1998) while others have argued that sensitivity to onset and rhyme predicts early progress. (Bryant, 1998)-.-


This debate is so heated that volumes of journal articles have been published just on this topic. The Journal of Experimental Child Psychology V71, N1, p23-44 contains 3 articles debating the importance. The authors against onset and rime: Muter, Hulme, Snowling and Taylor, state that learning to segment into small phonological units, as in phonemes, is the predictor of early readers.


Four years later, the Journal devotes an entire volume to the same debate, V82, N1, P2-92. This time the subject was stated as Phoneme Awareness Is a Better Predictor of Early Reading Skill. (Hulme, et al. 2002) The debating articles in the journal stated “In the beginning Was the Rhyme? (Goswami, 2002) and It Doesn’t Matter ….(Bryant, 2002). All of these authors and articles have shown the intense debate will continue as long as we devote our lifetimes to studying what works best when teaching our children how to read.


Years and years of studies, research and hypothesis hypotheses have been devoted to onset-rime and its ability to predict reading capabilities in early readers. One thing that is unquestionable is the fact that onset and rime does help young readers in learning to read. It also plays a significant role in spelling. Usually children are quicker to develop into Reading Stages than they are into Spelling Stages. Both sets of stages have similar steps, however the process of applying those learned stages sometimes overlap or do not develop as quickly. Most children will be able to recognize words through reading than they are able to spell them through sounds.



As children are sounding out words that have rhymic rhythmic sounds, they are beginning to recognize patterns in speech. As they are exposed to the words with rhymic patterns, ex. Cat Bat Fat, they are beginning to recognize patterns in reading words. The final stage in recognizing patterns is in spelling, or writing those words. Can you spell the words without being able to read? Have you ever heard of someone who could write but couldn’t read? The easiest to learn is language, then we move into the next phase of reading, then onto the stage of writing. Children learn to speak before they enter school, and some children that have been exposed to good reading modeling models and onset-rime activities are ahead of those that have not had that exposure.


Evidence has shown that struggling readers were most likely not exposed to phoneme awareness at an early age. There is hope for those struggling readers. Once it has become apparent that the child is struggling with phoneme awareness, teachers can utilize many activities to catch them up or help them bridge the gap from their peers. How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities or Reading A-Z or Onset and Rime Activities



Adams, J., Brown, A., Hatcher, P.J., Hulme, C., Nation, K., & Stuart, G., (2002). Phoneme Awareness Is a Better Predictor of Early Reading Skill Than Onset-rime Awareness, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 2-28.


Bowey, J. (2002). Reflections on Onset-Rime and Phoneme Sensitivity as Predictors of Beginning Word Reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 29-40.


Bryant, P., (1998). Sensitivity to Onset and Rhyme Does Predict Young Children’s Reading: A comment on Muter, Hulme, Snowling, and Taylor (1997). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 71, 29-37.


Bryant, P. (2002). It Doesn’t Matter Whether Onset and rime predicts Reading Better Than Phoneme Awareness Does or Vice Versa. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 41-46.


Goswami, U. (2002). In the Beginning was the Rhyme? A Reflection on Hulme, Hatcher, Nation, Brown, Adams, and Stuart (2002). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 47-57.


Hulme, C. (2002). Phonemes, Rimes, and the Mechanisms of Early reading Development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 58-64.


Hulme, C., Muter, V., Snowling M., Taylor, S., (1998). Segmentation, Not Rhyming, Predicts Early Progress in Learning to Read* Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 71, 3-27.


Hulme, C., Muter, V., & Snowling, M., (1998), Segmentation Does Predict Early Progress in Learning to Read Better Than Rhyme: A Reply to Bryant. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 71, 39-44.

External Links


Usha Goswami http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/staff/goswami.html


Charles Hulme http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/psych/www/people/biogs/ch1.html


Onset and Rhyme activities: http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.com/pdf/elt/catalogue/9780194375993-c.pdf


SNIP: Special Needs Information Press: http://www.crossboweducation.com/snipsnip.htm


Reading A-Z: http://www.readinga-z.com/research/phonological.html#onaware


Commentary by Kelly Murphy



Thumbs up! Nice job on your paper, it looks like you learned alot.

I suggest that you use heading throughout your paper to help keep the readers focus. I would just use the sections you used in your outline.


I also founjd a few typos, here they are:


paragraph 2 - Children that are introduced to onset and rime early in life have a clearer understanding of phonemic segmentation than children that have not ---- I think it would sound better if you write CHILDREN WHO ARE instead of children that --- then, positive affect should be POSITIVE EFFECT


paragraph 4 - I would leave out the word just in just on this topic.


Paragraph 7 - rhymic sounds should be RHYTHMIC


Once again, you did a nice job. I really like the external links that you included.

Commentary by Stacee Jennings

Hi Julie. I think you did an outstanding job on onset and rime. I learned a lot from your report. You can find some additional Onset and Rime activities at this link: Onset and Rime Activities. The only suggestions I have are minor typos. Here they are:


1. In the third paragraph under "Debate," in the last sentence, you have an extra period before the citation.


2. In the last paragraph of "Debate," you should change "hypothesis" to "hypotheses" (the plural form). I also think you need to add a comma before the "and."


3. In the first paragraph of "Activities," the last sentence reads, "Children learn to speak before they enter school, and some children that have been exposed to good reading modeling and onset-rime activities are ahead of those that have not had that exposure." I think you should change "modeling" to "models." It flows better to me.


Ok, that's it. Great job!


Hey Julie,

I hope I have not been holding you up by being so late getting this to you. There are just a couple of things I found that you may want to look at.


1. In the third Paragraph under debate it's should be changed to its.


2. I would also put a comma after reading and then into the stage of writing in the first paragraph under activities.


3. The only other thing I could find is some of your references have some minor errors, for example in the first one I think in the second line the rime and in the title and experimental should be capitalized as well.


Hope this helps

Elizabeth Walker

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