Posted by: jockmackenzie | October 25, 2009

Publications – Rhyme Time in “Canadian Teacher”


In the September issue of Canadian Teacher, I have an article on page 20 entitled “Rhyme Time.” To view the article, either click on colored title or see the text below.

Canadian Teacher is edited by Diana Mumford of Gabriola Island, British Columbia. The magazine is free to schools all across the country. Thanks to the support of the magazine’s advertisers, it is also available on-line.

I would encourage you to check it out and to consider sharing your good ideas through either the “Tips for Teachers” column or perhaps by writing an article.

On the day I published this blog entry, it seemed to take a long time to get to the link showing the article so I am pasting in the original text here. I highly recommend taking the time to go to Canadian Teacher Magazine to see all of the issues available on-line.


By Jock Mackenzie

(The following is an excerpt from the draft of my second teacher reference book. The book’s working title is “Poetry and Song.” This section comes from Chapter 3: Rhyme.)

Hink Pinks, Hinky Pinkies, Hinkety Pinketies, and so on



Some students get quite a kick out of these rhyming definitions while others seem to find them well, not so much fun. My experience has been to introduce (or in many cases, re-introduce) the idea, run with it if it works, or let it go if it doesn’t. For my money, the Level Two and Three challenges are more fun and well worth dealing with – at least to see if they fly with a particular group. Rather than creating worksheets (you could call them playsheets), my preference is to use the Hink Pink Family to begin or end classes over a period of days. Another option is to have students create the riddles in spare moments and then hold a contest pitting one group against another, with only the students who chose to participate taking part in an EXHIBITION COMPETITION.

Level One – Hink Pinks and Hinky Pinkies

A “Hink Pink” is a riddle whose answer is two, one-syllable rhyming words. E.g. Riddle: What do you call an extra seat? Answer: Spare Chair

A “Hinky Pinky” is a riddle whose answer is two, two-syllable rhyming words. E.g. Riddle: What do you call a pleased father? Answer: Happy Pappy.

The clue regarding syllables comes from the number of syllables in the type of riddle. Is it a ‘hink pink’ (one syllable words) or is it a ‘hinky pinky’ (hink – y = two syllables)?

Students, initially, should be introduced to Hink Pinks and Hinky Pinkies that are relatively straightforward. Next, more difficult ones could be attempted. Finally, students could be asked to invent their own.

*** My students often had difficulty preparing the ‘riddle’ part. Intuitively backward in design, the student would think of two rhyming words for an answer but would often use one of the words when asking riddle. E.g. answer = fat cat then the riddle became – What do you call a fat kitty? Oops! This is an excellent time to allow students to use both a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus.

The second most common problem always seemed to be the nonsensical answers. Students would find any two rhyming words and then try to force some kind of riddle. If the answer were Chase Face, no riddle that I know of would enable anyone to make sense of the answer. By getting students to critique one another’s riddles and answers, embarrassment and futility were avoided.

Level Two – Hinkety Pinketies (and more Hink Pinks and Hinky Pinkies)

The “Hinkety Pinkety” is a riddle whose answer is two, three-syllable rhyming words. E.g. Riddle: What would you call an evil preacher? Answer: Sinister Minister

Level Three – Hinkhinkety Pinkpinketies, Hink Pinkies, Hinky Pinketies, and Hink Hinks, Hinky Hinkies, and so on.

The “Hinkhinkety Pinkpinkety” is a riddle whose answer is two, four-syllable rhyming words. E.g. Riddle: What term would describe philanthropic interchange? Answer: Generosity Reciprocity

The “Hink Pinkies” are riddles whose answers rhyme, as always, but in this case, the first word has one syllable, the second word has two syllables. E.g. Riddle: What would you call an over-excited boyfriend? Answer: Gung-ho Beau

For “Hinky Pinketies”: Riddle: What do call hunger by the campfire? Answer: Firelight Appetite.

For “Hink Hinks” and Hinky Hinkies” or any of the other variations if they begin with H’s, the answers are homonyms. (A homonym is one of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning.) E.g. Hink Hink Riddle: What do you call an ordinary aircraft? Answer: Plain Plane

Hinky Hinky Riddle: What might you be in if you ate too many brine soaked cucumbers? Answer: Pickle Pickle


To the best of my knowledge, what I am dubbing the “Hink Pink Swink” (and subsequently the “Hinky Pinky Swinky” and so on) does not exist. I offer it here with several examples.

The only difference with a “Hink Pink Swink” is the addition of the third rhyming word. The HPS may even be easier because more clues are given. It could also be more challenging if longer syllable words are included. Try these:

Hink Pink Swink Riddle: What do you call a regulation used when teaching donkeys?

Answer: Mule school rule.

Hink Pink Swinky Riddle: What would you call a square dance party in a village of jesters? Answer: Clown town hoedown

Hink Pink Swinkety Riddle: What would you call a fight involving chefs throwing their recipes collections? Answer: Cook book donnybrook.


This four-word rhyming definition builds on the tradition of its predecessors. It has all of the same permutations and combinations but adds one more word.

Hink Pink Swinky Thinky Riddle: What would you call a thin, nasty boxing device? Answer: Lean, mean, fighting machine.

Hinkety Pinkety Swinky Thinky Riddle: What would you call a farmhouse for a poorly nourished, recently married genius? Answer: Underfed, newlywed egghead homestead.

• • •

I think the success of Hink Pink Rhyming Definitions depends largely on teacher enthusiasm and timing. If the teacher is one who encourages students to join the avowed proud crowd of wordsmiths, who enthuses over the process as kids fiddle with a riddle, and who is thrilled with the solution resolution, then kids are more likely to enjoy rhyme time.

Timing is also important. To me, timing means both when and for how long. Having offered the new HINK PINK SWINK and HINK PINK SWINK THINK, let me offer HINK PINK TIME as an exit strategy – whenever there is ample time. Too often, I have seen students lined up at a classroom door, ready to exit at the bell. I assume that the prepared lesson ended early and the teacher had no “fill-in-the-idle-moment” activities up his sleeve. Enter HINK PINK TIME. Students who successfully answer the Hink Pinks, Hinky Pinketies, Hinky Pinkety Swinkswinketies, etc. can line up at the door – and even while they’re there, they can still mentally participate in the action.

*** I am a big fan of The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young. I would also recommend this web site:


  1. I totally learned that these are ink pinks but the premise is exactly the same. I use them a lot for studying vocab words and reviewing their meanings. It gets really dynamic when students can make their own! Glad to see other people love them too! Such a great way to keep students involved in critical thinking, vocabulary practice and inferring.

    I had never seen the three or four word versions, but I like them a lot! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

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