Author: Zeny Zerfu (Ethiopia) | Uploaded on 1 August 2022 


Read what a teacher says about this activity:

Using a song is a fun way for learners to practise rhymes and action words. It helps them relate words to actions, or to focus on the sounds of words while they enjoy the melody and rhythm.

Stage 1: Prepare 

Choose the right song for the age group you teach and for the language item you want to practise e,g. verbs, nouns, colours, transport, jobs, types of food etc. 

(You can find some songs at

Learners work in groups. Write rhyming words from the song on a flashcard and distribute it to groups while they are listening.

Stage 2: Before Listening

Teacher: Tell learners the topic and ask them what they expect to hear in the song. Elicit some words connected with the topic. 

Example: “Stop! Look! Listen! Think!”

What do you think the song is about? What words for places and people are you going to hear?

While Listening

Put learners into small groups.

Play: 1st listening with no interruption 

Pause: Before 2nd listening draw learners’ attention to the language item(s) you want to focus on. Ask learners to listen for “the tense” or “action words’, “…ing”, “nouns” etc.

Give out flashcards or lists of rhyming words mixed up. Ask learners to put them in order while they listen.

Play: 2nd Listening

Paused: The group who put the rhymes in the right order (or nearest the right order) will be the winners.

Stage 3: After Listening

Give the groups the lyrics with the rhyming words missing. They must fill in the rhymes in the right places. Have them line up in the order of the lyrics and try singing. 

Stage 4: Alternatives 

  • Replacing: learners can change the target language items: rhymes, verbs, nouns, action words with synonyms or antonyms. 
  • TPR: While listening: have learners respond physically to the focus language item (action words, colours etc.) by moving, miming or holding up flashcards.
  • Class actions: have learners create actions for the lyrics that help them remember the words and meanings. Give different groups different lyrics.
  • Cultural relevance: ask learners to change some items in the song into local ones (food, clothes, names etc.), with words carefully selected to fit the melody, and try to sing it.
  • Mother tongue: Ask the learners if they know similar songs from their culture. Have them sing or teach the class.

You can use the same song for different activities – primary children love singing the same song again and again.


Rhyming words: words that end with the same sounds

Flashcards: small cards with words, numbers or pictures

TPR: Total Physical Response – activities where learners respond with physical actions or by moving, instead of speaking

Culturally relevant: appropriate for the learners’ local context

Mother tongue: first language, sometimes called home language


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