What’s the Best Way to Teach Students How to Rhyme Poems

How to rhyme poems is one of the most common questions that is asked about poetry.   Most of us associate rhyming with poetry, probably because many of our childhood books rhymed.  Or we could look for rhyming poetry because traditionally most poems rhymed.   Rhyming is a classic poetry technique, but it also takes skill to teach our students how to rhyme correctly and effectively in their poetry and writing.

How to Rhyme Poems as a Middle School Poet

I love to write rhyming poetry.  When I started writing poetry on my own in middle school I would often break my poems down in stanza and use rhyming.  One of the things I liked about rhyming my poems is that it always challenged me to say what I wanted differently, to rearrange my writing, or try new words. I felt like it made my poems a bit mysterious, which I liked because my poems were all about awkward middle school feelings.

Teaching Your Students How to Rhyme Poems Teaches Them Writing Skills

Wouldn’t it be great if your students worked on saying what they wanted differently, rearranged their writing during revision, or tried new words?  These are important writing skills that our students need in every kind of writing, but practicing rhyming poetry with our students forces them to naturally work on these skills.  After reading this article you will be ready to use several strategies to teach your students how to rhyme poems.

What is Rhyme Poetry?

Rhyme is when words or the ending of words have the same or a similar sound.  The rhymes in poems don’t always have to come at the end of a line either, although this is the type of rhyme most people are familiar with.  There are so many types of rhyme poetry that it takes this whole article to explain them all. 


The Great Poetry Debate: Does Poetry Need to Rhyme?

Some people and publishers are against rhyming poetry.  They feel it’s too sing-song and simple if it’s rhyming.  But some writers love to write rhyming poetry.  Here are few articles about whether poetry should rhyme.

When Should Poetry Rhyme?

10 Reasons Every Poem Should Rhyme and How it Could Impact You BIG Time

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme: A Perspective on Writing Poetry

Why and How to Rhyme Poems

Here are a few reasons that people tend to be drawn towards rhyming poetry.  These might be some of the reasons you decide to teach rhyme poetry to your students.  Or maybe these are the reasons your students would prefer to write rhyme poetry over other types of writing or poetry.

1. Musicality

Rhyming creates a musically in poetry.  It simply sounds nice in our ears.  That’s why little kids love rhyming books.  It makes the poem feel complete like all the pieces fit together. 

2. Memorable

Rhyming makes poems memorable in two ways.  First, they are easy to memorize.  I have memorized so many of my son’s books because they rhyme.  Just by reading them to him, I have memorized them. Second, rhyming helps the reader connect to the poem because the rhymes connect significant parts of the poem.   

3. Understanding a Performed Piece.

When a rhyming poem is read or performed the audience knows where each line ends easily.  There are other ways to accomplish this, but rhyming poems make visualizing a performed piece simple.

4. Magical

Rhyming poems hold a little bit of magic. Rhyming is probably the characteristic poems are most famous for.  

Stanzas are a Key Part of How to Rhyme Poems

Stanzas are the paragraphs of poetry.  They are line breaks that can separate topics and rhyming patterns.  For example, a common rhyme pattern is ABAB CDCD.  The space there is the stanza break.  The stanza break sets the poet up to write with different rhymes in the next stanza.  Stanzas are a key component in successful rhyming poetry because a poem with the same rhymes throughout would likely grow weaker as the poetry tries to maintain the rhyme.  

Patterns Outline How to Rhyme Poems

Picking a rhyming pattern is the single most important aspect of how to rhyme poetry.  The rhyme pattern that you choose sets up the rest of the poem.  Poetry is the freest form of writing.  Poetry allows the poet to make and break rules as their creativity leads them.  One of the only rules of rhyming poetry is that the poet must pick a rhyming pattern that the reader can follow.  The rhyming pattern helps the reader understand the poem and it helps the poet write a successful and interesting poem. 

The poet can make up their own rhyming pattern, but as you get ready to teach your students poetry it is helpful to have an expected rhyming pattern set for you.  Several forms of poetry have rhyming patterns, which make rhyming poetry easier and faster to teach.

Types of Rhyming Poetry that Guide You Through How to Rhyme Poems

I am going to briefly tell you about some of the most common rhyme patterns, which are also some of the most common forms of rhyming poetry.  These are just some of the forms available to you but remember you or your students can make up a rhyming pattern too. 

1. Alternate Rhyme

Alternate rhymes are one of the most common forms of rhyming poetry.  They are easy to manage with a pattern of ABAB CDCD.  The poem can be as long as the poet wants.  I have a ready-to-teach alternate rhyme lesson that gets my students laughing every year.

2. Shakespearean Sonnet

Shakespearean sonnets sound intimidating, but they aren’t.  Sonnets have a rhyme pattern of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.  You’ll notice the rhyming couplet or GG that ends the poem.  That rhyming couplet usually sums up or comments on the rest of the poem.

3. Rhymes Coupled / Rhyming Couplets

Rhymes coupled, also known as rhyming couplets, are often found in nursery rhymes or children’s books.  It’s when two rhyming lines are together in the pattern AA BB CC.  Some poems have interjections of a rhyming couplet, such as the Shakespearean sonnet.  These poems can also be as long or short as the poet wants.  

4. Ballade

There are several types of Ballades, but we are going to stick to just one here.  This ballade has a rhyme pattern of ABABBCBc.  This pattern repeats for three stanzas and then there is a fourth stanza that has a pattern of BCBS.  Did you notice the lowercase c?  It’s lowercase because it is a refrain, meaning it’s the same line again and again.

5. Enclosed Rhyme

An enclosed rhyme is just what it says it is.  The pattern is ABBA.  Do you see how the BB are inside or enclosed in the AA?  The poet can repeat this pattern for as many stanzas as they would like.

6. Triplet

A triplet is made up of three-line stanzas.  Makes sense, right?  The rhyme pattern is AAA BBB and so on.  The poet can make these poems as long or short as they’d like.

7. Limerick 

Limericks are also known as nonsense poetry.  They were created by Edward Lear a long time ago.  Limericks are often attributed to the Irish, but there is some debate about that.  I often teach limericks to my students in March for Saint Patrick’s Day.  The rhyme pattern is AABBA.  Limericks also have a signature rhythm too.  The B lines are much shorter than the A-lines.  The last characteristic of Limericks is how they start.  One popular first line is, “There once was a ___ from ____.”  There are a few others you can look up too.  If you’d like to try limericks with your class here is a ready-to-go lesson.

8. Rhyming Patterns

Here are a couple more popular rhyming patterns that I haven’t matched with a specific type of poetry.  But it’s okay to make up and try various rhyme patterns of your own.  Remember poetry is about being creative and breaking the rules. 




If this seemed like a big list of rhyming poetry, then pick just one or two to try out with your students this year.

How to Rhyme Poems In the Middle of a Line

There are three ways that poets can rhyme poetry without an end rhyme. They are not all truly rhymes, but they create a bit of magic and memory in a poem like rhyming does and are useful tools as you write poetry.

  1. Alliteration

Alliteration is when several words that are close together start with the same sounds.  Alliteration is very memorable in the characters’ names in Marvel movies.  Alliteration is fun to use, but can easily be overdone.

  1. Assonance

Assonance is when the poet uses words with the same vowel sounds, close together.  The vowel sounds can be anywhere within the word.

  1. Consonance 

Consonance is when the poet uses words with the same consonant sounds, close together.  The consonant sounds can be anywhere within the word.

There is an overlap between assonance, consonance, and alliteration.  As a reader, I remember moments where I loved the way a line or sentence sounds and didn’t know why, but it’s usually because of these three literary devices.

Meter and Rhythm of Poetry Definition

Rhythm is what makes music so enjoyable to use.  In poetry, the rhythm is the pace and tempo of the poem.  Meter is the pattern created by stressed and unstressed syllables.   These two things can work together to create a powerful poem, but they are tricky to understand.  There are a few other things that help the reader keep pace with the meter and rhythms like line breaks, repetition, and spaces.  A rhythm is a powerful tool that evokes emotion for the reader. 

Does Poetry Need to Rhyme?

Remember that your students can write incredible poetry without rhyming.  If you decide to teach your students rhyming poetry, make sure you pick a rhyming pattern for them to start and as the year progresses give them opportunities to create their own.

More Poetry and Writing Articles.

Here are some more great tips and ideas on how to include poetry in your classroom.

What are the Best Rules to Writing Poetry that Teachers Need to Know?

Teachers’ Easy Guide on How to Teach Poems

5 Incredible Benefits of Teaching Poetry and Writing

Here is Your FREE Prompt for Writing Poetry

I know that you needed a prompt to help kickstart your students’ writing.  Here is an entire lesson for FREE.  My Our School Poem guides students through using sensory language to describe their school. The step-by-step directions guide your class through the writing process with all the necessary worksheets make this the perfect lesson for your classroom.

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