Rhymes for pronunciation practice

The following traditional rhymes are useful for students of all ages to practice their pronunciation. The rhymes are divided up according to pronunciation features that can be practised:


- especially for consonant-to-vowel linking, 'h' dropping in linking, consonant-to-consonant linking (and assimilation)

The Wise Old Owl
The wise old owl lived in an oak;
The more he saw, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

Boys and Girls Come Out to Play
Boys and girls come out to play.
The moon does shine as bright as day.
Leave your supper and leave your sleep,
And join your playfellows in the street.
Come with a whoop and come with a call,
Come with a good will or not at all.
Up the ladder and down the wall.
A ha'penny loaf will serve us all;
You find milk, and I'll find flour,
And we'll have a pudding in half an hour.

Rain on the green grass,
And rain on the tree,
Rain on the house-top,
But not on me!

Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

Problem Sounds:

- some traditional rhymes to practise the /I/ and /i:/ sounds:

Itsy Bitsy Spider
The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

This Little Piggy
This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried
Squeak, squeak, squeak,
And ran all the way home.

The Bees
The bees
Sneeze and wheeze,
Scraping pollen and honey
From the lime trees.

If All the Seas...
If all the seas were one sea,
What a great sea that would be!
If all the trees were one tree,
What a great tree that would be!
And if all the axes were one axe,
What a great axe that would be!
And if all the men were one man,
What a great man that would be!
And if the great man took the great axe,
And cut down the great tree,
And let it fall into the great sea,
What a splish-splash that would be!

I Need Not Your Needles
I need not your needles,
They're needless to me.
For the needing of needles
Was needless, you see.
But had my neat trousers
Needed to be kneed.
I then would've had need
Of your needles, indeed.

- a rhyme to practice the /t/ and /I/ sounds, especially:

Little Tommy Tittlemouse.
Little Tommy Tittlemouse
Lived in a little house;
He caught fishes
In other men's ditches.

- especially for /u:/, /i:/ and 'oo'

One, Two, Three, Four
One, two, three, four,
Mary at the cottage door,
Five, six, seven, eight,
Eating cherries off a plate.

- especially for /3:/ and /I/

The Horrid Girl
There was a little girl, and she had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

- especially for 'th'

This is the house that Jack built
This is the house that Jack built.
This is the malt, that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rat, that ate the malt, that lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cat, that killed the rat, that ate the malt, that lay…
This is the dog, that worried the cat, that killed the rat, that ate the malt, that lay…
This the cow with the crumpled horn, that tossed the dog, that… etc.

- especially for /i:/, /t/ and 'uh'

The Old Woman at the Tub, Tub, Tub
The old woman must stand at the tub, tub, tub,
The dirty old clothes to rub, rub, rub.
>But when they are clean, and fit to be seen,
She'll dress like a lady, and dance on the green.

- especially for /i:/, /I/ and /u:/

Three Red Plums
Three red plums on the old plum tree,
One for you and one for me,
And one for the boy who picks them.

- the following have a variety of sounds worth practising:

Fish, Fish All in a Dish
Fish, fish, all in a dish
Who will eat my beautiful fish?
Fish, fish all in a dish.

This Little Pig
This little pig went to market,
This little pig stayed at home,
This little pig had roast beef,
But this little pig had none,
And this little pig went, "Squeak,
Squeak, squeak," and ran all the way home.

Rat a Tat Tat
Rat a tat, tat,
Who is that?
Only Grandma's pussy cat.
What do you want?
A bottle of milk.
Where's your money?
In my pocket.
Where's your pocket?
I forgot it.
Oh you silly pussy cat!

Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses
And all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

One Potato
One potato, two potatoes,
Three potatoes, four,
Five potatoes, six potatoes
Seven potatoes, more.

There was an Old Woman (1)
There was an old woman
Who lived under a hill
And if she's not gone
She lives there still.

There was an Old Woman (2)
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some soup without any bread,
And kissed them goodnight and sent them to bed.

Thunder and Rain
I hear thunder,
I hear thunder,
Listen, don't you?
Listen, don't you?
Patter go the raindrops,
Patter go the raindrops,
I'm wet through,
I'm wet through.

Rhymes to practise rhythm and intonation:

Three Blind Mice
Three blind mice, see how they run!
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tales with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice.

Counting Rhyme
One, two
Buckle my shoe.
Three, four,
Knock at the door.
Five, six,
Pick up sticks.
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight.
Nine, ten,
A big fat hen.

Hickory, Dickory, Dock
Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory, dickory, dock.

One Red Engine
One red engine,
Puffing down the track,
One red engine, puffing back.
Two red engines…

Engine Number 9
Engine, engine, number nine,
Racing down the Chicago line,
When she's polished, she will shine,
Engine, engine, number nine.

Wee Willie Winkie
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town
Upstairs and downstairs in his night gown,
Knocking at the window,
Shouting through the lock,
Are all the children in their beds,
For it's past eight o'clock.

© Nigel J. Ross, 2002




English Lang.

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