Tongue Twisters a tool for developing Literacy

Tongue twisters are a great way to help children develop their reading and spelling skills. A tongue twister is a sentence or phrase that is difficult to pronounce or enunciate. Some tongue twisters contain alliterative (repeating of a sound) words and some use rhyme, others use a combination of both. Either way, tongue twisters are generally somewhat tricky to pronounce. Saying a tongue twister requires care in pronunciation of the words. The challenge comes in repeating the phrase or sentence at least three times but up to ten is even possible.

Tongue twisters may seem like play rather than learning; but children learn a great deal through play. Many tongue twisters are silly phrases and sound funny when they are said. They surely produce a lot of fun and laughter, making them a great way for them to enhance a child’s reading. In addition, “tongue twisters are not only for light-hearted linguistic fun and games. They serve a practical purpose in practising pronunciation. English tongue twisters may be used by foreign students of English to improve their accent, actors who need to develop a certain accent, and by speech therapists to help those with speech difficulties.”(see Fun with Words

According to this website, preschool children benefit a great deal from saying tongue twisters:

Repeating tongue twisters helps preschoolers to hear the sounds that make up the words, which helps them recognize those words better. Learning to read, and spell are interconnected, and much more complex than we know. Repeating tongue twisters can help establish a sound foundation for spelling and reading.

Here are a some books that provide a wide selection of tongue twisters that will be a great addition to your home, school or classroom library:

Fox in socks and Oh, Say can you say? by the reknowned Dr. Seuss, consists almost entirely of rhyming tongue-twisters. These books are great for 4 – 8 year olds, with the four year olds prefering to listen to you read them the tongue twisters. Confident five year old readers may try reading aloud these tongue twisters. As they grow older, children will have enjoy the challenge of reading the tongue twisters themselves.

Busy buzzing bumblebees and other tongue twisters by Alvin Schwartz is a collection of over forty tongue twisters that make a great read aloud choice for young children (4-6). Use it as a transition between lessons or to share a laugh over the tangles your tongue can get into saying the rhymes.

She sells seashells: a tongue twister story by Grace Kim is a unique book in that it takes several tongue twisters and weave them into a story.  So we meet the girl who sells the seashells, Peter Piper and Betty Botter and enjoy saying the funny rhymes that tell their story. this book is great as a read aloud. It’s rated by Scholastic as a Level 3 easy reader. One teacher mentioned that she found it to be much to challenging for her grade one class. But she did say that more experienced readers would enjoy the story as they try to say the tongue twisters out loud.

Here are some samples of tongue twisters you may know.

Many of us know of this tongue twister (which happens to be a great one for young children):

She sells seashells by the seashore 

The shells she sells are seashells I am sure 

So if she sells seashells by the seashore 

I am sure that the shells are sea shore shells.

Here are a few quick tongue twisters for any age group (ask your child/student to say these 10 times without stopping!):

A big bug bit the little beetle, but the little beetle bit the big bug back.

A plain bun, a plum bun, a bun full of plums.

Friendly fleas and fire flies.

Chester Cheetah chews a chunk of cheddar cheese.

Six slippery snails slid slowly seaward.

Two toads tittered till totally tired.

What about some quick Islamic oriented tongue twisters? Well, I have a few quick tongue twisters for you:

Masud went to the masjid for Maghrib.

Harun and Hilmy hurried home for hummus and halwa.

These tongue twisters are great for slightly older children (6 and up):

Whether the weather be fine
or whether the weather be not.
Whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot.
We’ll weather the weather
whatever the weather
whether we like it or not.

Yellow butter, purple jelly,
red jam, black bread.
Spread it thick, say it quick!
Yellow butter, purple jelly,
red jam, black bread.
Spread it thicker, say it quicker!
Yellow butter, purple jelly,
red jam, black bread!

A flea and a fly in a flue
were imprisoned,
so what could they do?
Said the flea, “Let us fly!”
Said the fly, “Let us flee!”
So, they flew
Through a flaw in the flue.

Have lots of fun with these tongue twisters and if you know of a tongue twister, please send it in, and I will post it, insha’Allah (God willing).


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