Onset Rime

< Back to All Phonological Awareness Strategies


Onset Rime


Onset Rime teaches the process of splitting a one syllable word into two parts. The onset is the unit of sound at the beginning of a word and the rime is the sound that follows. 


  • Identify the beginning (onset) sound followed by the rest of the word (rime)
    • For example, c-at, m-an, p-ark, t-all
  • Explore the sounds within a word to recognize common word parts
    • Play with the onset 'gr-' using words like green, grass, grow
    • Discover words that share the rime '-ight' like night, flight, sight

Note: This strategy works best with one syllable words. 

See It In Action


Onset Rime Blending Strategy from the Instructional Strategies for Reading e-Learning:



Once a reader can identify onset and rime, play with the onset. Choose a rime and add different onsets to the beginning of the word. Work your way through the alphabet and/or introduce blends. Create new words. Which ones does the reader recognize from everyday life and which ones are nonsense? 

Blending Onset and Rime steps provided by Reading Rockets:

  1. We dictate onset [pause] rime, using fists to represent onset and rime.
  2. All students repeat the sounds and use their fists to represent the sounds.
  3. One student blends the onset and rime to say the word.
  4. All students blend the onset and rime to say the word.

Add Complexity:

Which One Doesn't Fit activity from Literacy Minnesota

  1. Pick three words from the week’s vocabulary and/or reading. Two of the words should be similar (rhyme or same first sound), and one of the words should be different.
  2. Ask the learner to tell you which word is different.
  3. Say the words.
  4. Have the reader say the word that doesn’t fit. To expand, have the reader tell you why it doesn’t fit.