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A Tongue-Twisting Language Arts Lesson Plan

Beyond "Toy Boat" And Into Powerful Descriptive Writing

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Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers!

She Sells Seashells by the Seashore!

Toy Boat! Toy Boat! Toy Boat!

Try saying these words several times quickly and you'll see why tongues twisters can be a totally terrific part of your Language Arts curriculum. Not only are they silly, but these funny phrases focus on phonics, parts of speech, oral language, alliteration, reading, writing, and more.

First, pique the children's interest by introducing them to some of the more well-known tongue twisters. Challenge the children to say each phrase five times fast. "Toy Boat" is a great one because it sounds easy, but it's actually quite difficult to repeat it fast. Try it yourself and see!

Next, read a tongue-twisting book such as Twimericks, Dr. Seuss' Oh Say Can You Say?, or World's Toughest Tongue Twisters. The kids will love watching you struggle through the tongue-tickling phrases from these books. You will probably have to stop every so often to give the kids a chance to practice the twisters. It's simply too irresistible to them if they have to wait!

After the book, introduce the concept of alliteration. If you teach students in second grade or older, they will probably be able to handle this big word. In fact, it is a third grade academic standard in my district that all students know alliteration and begin to apply it in their writing. Alliteration simply means the repetition of the beginning sound in two or more words together.

Younger students can build on the letter decoding skills included in tongue twisters by reading phonics poems in books such as the Phonics Through Poetry series. These poems are a little different than traditional tongue twisters, but they are a fun way to practice certain beginning sounds, rhymes, digraphs, and more. You may also want to discuss what makes these sentences and phrases so difficult to pronounce quickly.

To build in writing practice, the students will have a blast building their own tongue twisters. To start, you can have the kids make four columns on their papers: one for adjectives, one for nouns, one for verbs, and one for other parts of speech. To determine the letter for their twisters, I usually just have them pick one of their initials. This gives them a little bit of free choice, but also ensures that you don't get 20 twisters of the same letter.

After the children brainstorm approximately 10-15 words for each column that begin with their chosen letters, they can start putting together their twisters. I stipulate that they have to write complete sentences, not simple phrases. My students got so carried away that many of them asked if they could make more than one. I even had one child who made 12!

To culminate the tongue twisting lesson, I have the kids write one twister on the bottom of a page and illustrate it above. These make a great project to post on a bulletin board because the children will love reading each other's sentences and trying to say them five times fast.

Give this tongue-twisting lesson a try and it's sure to become one of your favorite lessons to teach each year. Yes, it's a little silly and full of giggles, but at the end of the day, the kids really will have gained valuable language arts skills. So, go ahead - laugh, learn, and let little language lovers list letters for this lesson! :)

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