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Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry, Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry….
I have fond childhood memories of laughing with my friends as we competed to see who could say this simple tongue twister the fastest, without getting all mixed up. There are some other popular ones, such as ‘Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…’ and ‘How much wood can a woodchuck chuck…..’ that have stuck with me as an adult. Know I get to enjoy sharing them with my children now too.
Aside from being fun, there are actually many benefits to teaching your children to recite tongue twisters. Some of which I learnt whilst I was at college as a drama student. Some that I have observed in my children in just the last few months.
Benifits of Teaching Tongue Twisters to Children
Learning tongue twisters together is fun! As the moto goes in our house “If it’s not fun, don’t do it!” Honestly, if you don’t believe me or haven’t yet experienced the joy of memorising tongue twisters with your kids, try it out for yourself!
One of the most important parts of any learning with children still in their core years, is that it should be enjoyable and purposeful.
Building Phonetic Awareness
A tongue twister is a sting of sounds or words that are difficult to pronounce, particularly when said at speed. The words will most often start or end in the same letters or use similar sounds. Taking ‘Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,’ as an example you can see that the ‘p’ sound is repeated 6 times. As children read, learn and practice they will exaggerate those beginning sounds and become familiar them.
The same can be said for the repetition of ‘ed’ at the end of the words such as ‘picked’ and ‘pickled’ as well as the sound of ‘er’ in ‘piper’ and ‘peppers’.
Picking a new tongue twister to read, explore and memorise each week is a fantastic addition to other phonics activities you might already be doing.
Introduction to Alliteration
Tongue twisters are usually in a form of alliteration. They are nice way to introduce your child this fantastic literary skill .
Alliteration is a tool used in creative writing as well as being powerful for spoken communication. It adds rhythm and can even set a specific mood. You’ll find alliteration being used in advertising, by public speakers and of course by authors. So it’s a good thing for young children to become familiar with and eventually learn how to use in their own works!
If you’ve ever given a tongue twister ago at speed you’ll know how difficult it it can be to get the correct words in the correct order. This is because the brain can easily confuse words that use the same or similar sounds. Practising and nailing tongue twisters and silly rhymes is giving your child’s brain a good challenge!
Introducing Memory Work
Our brain is a huge bank of information and all of that information has to be stored and recalled when needed. This is a little thing scientists like to call ‘memory’.
Our children’s memory helps them not only to retain skills, facts and information that may be useful to them later on in life. Including remembering experiences that bring them joy or pain and knowing how to avoid or take part in more of those experiences in the future.
Through memory work such as reciting poetry or memorising tongue twisters your child will exercise this cognitive function, which will increase their ability to learn and memorise new information.
Tongue Twisters Can Help With Speech Development
Trying to help a child that has particular difficulties with their speech can be a challenge. Quite often it can become frustrating for both child and parent.
The pressures on ‘getting it right’ can lead to lead to a child loosing confidence and they decide it’s easier not to try. I know because I have been there with M.
He was a late talker and still struggles with the pronunciation of certain letters. Although M has made drastic improvements with his speech and can now be understood by most people, there was a time where his lack of confidence left him searching for different ways of saying or showing you what he wanted to say.
Tongue twisters are a fun way of playing around with words and sounds.
They work the mouth muscles and repetition helps children form muscle memory of particular sounds. Toungue twisters can also help highligh sounds that your child may be struggling to pronounce, so you can focus on these areas in other types of activities.
These fun little rhymes, have done wonders for M over the past year and if you have a child with similar difficulties I highly recommend playing about with alliteration. Your child is highly unlikely to notice how the exaggeration, pronunciation and articulation that they use in the process, is actually a way of working on their speech.
The Opportunity to Get Creative
Creating your own tongue twisters together with your children requires them to get creative! Putting together lists of words that start and end with the same letters and sounds and then finding ways to put them into coherent sentences, will sure to get their creative juices flowing.
It’s always fun and kind of magical to see what the kids can come up with! Their ideas quite often seem to come out of no where and are bound to give us all a giggle. We’ve had some extremely interesting and very entertaining concoctions brewed up over here!
This phrase just keeps popping up all over the place in our homeschool at the moment. I guess it’s because both of my boys are adding new words to their vocabulary every single day at the moment it seems!
In fact I’m willing to hazard a guess that if you have a child between the ages of 2-8 right now, you’ll probably be noticing the very same thing! If you think about it children go from not being able to talk at all to being able to use 1000’s of words in a matter of years!
Whether you create your own tongue twisters or discover some of the gems that have already been written, I am sure your preschooler or kindergartener will come across new words that you can discuss the meaning and uses of too!
A Tool For Life
It’s not only performers that have a requirement for vocal warm ups! As your child grows they will be presented with opportunities to speak out in public. Be it through giving a presentation at work, reading a piece of work out loud to a group or perhaps even stepping live on air to undergo a radio interview.
Asides from confidence the ability to speak clearly and to be understood is crucial. Public speakers and performers often use tongue twisters as a way to exercise and warm up all the muscles surrounding the mouth prior to a speaking event. Having a few committed to memory could be a nice little tool to use should the occasion ever arise!
If you found this post useful you should also read How to Teach Children the Importance of Word Choice Through Books
and don’t forget to join our 30 Day Learning Through Literature Challenge!