Tongue Twisters

Tongue Twisters by composer and Elementary Music Specialist Donna Rhodenizer

Tongue twisters are a fun way to engage students.

A tongue twister is a phrase, a sentence, or a longer passage that is written with words that cause it to be difficult to articulate properly. Tongue twisters can be spoken or sung and they can be used as a challenge, a game, a warm-up, and for fun. They can be used as an exercise to improve pronunciation and expressive delivery of text.

Tongue twisters result in funny word combinations when the words are mispronounced. Some are created so the misspoken words are ones we usually wouldn’t say – it is best to avoid those!  Enjoy the confusion and mistakes of tongue twisters and have some fun!

Tongue Twister Package - Free Download

Print Pages - blog post (pdf)

       - Teaching Strategies     

       - Two Dozen Tricky Tongue Twisters to Try

       - More - Challenging Tongue Twisters (spoken)

       - "Tongue Twisters" (translations) in other languages

Download your free Tongue Twister Package using this form.

Spoken tongue twisters

Spoken tongue twisters are a great ice breaker activity, providing a fun challenge and encouraging participation even from hesitant students.

Tongue twisters are a great warm-up activity at the beginning of a music class or choir rehearsal. Tongue twisters encourage

  • clear diction
  • expressive delivery of the words

Both of these are excellent skills for singers to develop.

Tongue twister - heart

Tongue twisters can be done individually or with others. In a group setting, reticent participants will have the support of their peers as everyone tries to successfully navigate the tricky word combinations. There will always be one student who wants to step up, be in the limelight and be the “star” by doing a tongue twister as a solo effort. Some students will surprise the class by being able to execute a tongue twister flawlessly. For others, when the inevitable slipups happen, everyone has a good laugh and second (or third!) chances are appreciated.

  • Use tongue twisters at the beginning of class as a warm-up or as a fun end-of-class activity.
  • Invite students to suggest their favourite tongue twisters to include in your collection. They love it when “their” tongue twister is chosen and someone in the class tries to say it.
  • Add dynamic changes to tongue twisters to add even more challenge!
  • Use a metronome when the class says a tongue twister. Say the tongue twister with the steady beat of the metronome. Set a faster speed and try it again. Record the fastest accurate speed and have students try to beat that speed at their next music class.
  • Create your own tongue twisters!

Fun tongue twister activities

Tongue Twister Challenge

(Thanks to Nikki Loney, FULL VOICE Music for this idea.)

  • Create slips of paper with selected tongue twisters.
  • Put the strips of paper in a container.
  • At the beginning of the music lesson, draw out a tongue twister that will be the challenge of the day. If students are not in person, the teacher may reach into the jar and pull out a slip when the student says, “STOP”. Add a dramatic lead up to the extraction of the tongue twister to create suspense and anticipation.
  • Initially, the teacher may choose the tongue twisters included in the jar. However, students enjoy adding their own favourite tongue twisters to the collection.

    To get your jar started, a list of two dozen tongue twisters is included in the PDF download.

    Create Your Own Tongue Twisters

    Have students create their own tongue twisters. To do this “from scratch” is quite difficult. Rather than come up with a completely unique tongue twister, facilitate the process by using a tongue twister generator. A tongue twister generator takes a known tongue twister and provides specific word choices that can be used to create an alternate version.

    e.g.,  choose words from the table to change this tongue twister:

    Tongue twister generator example

    Students love to create their own tongue twister combinations and challenge each other.

                Who can successfully navigate the twisty words?

                Who can make the most difficult combination?

    Creating a tongue-twister generator is not an easy task. A great tongue twister generator has been created by a teaching colleague of mine, and she has graciously given me permission to share it here.

    Tongue Twister Generator Created by Jennifer Trites  

    Download the free PDF from Jennifer's Melodious Intent website

    Sung tongue twisters

    Tongue twisters can also be sung. Adding a melodic element to the tongue twister certainly “ups the ante” for the participants. The fun and challenge of successfully navigating the words can take the focus off the fact that students are actually singing.

    Singing tongue twisters is a great warm-up activity.

    Any one-line tongue twister can be used as a warm up by singing the tongue twister once on each degree of the scale. Singing a complex tongue twister can make slow scale singing more interesting and even fun!

    Singing tongue-twister songs are great additions to general music classes. More complex tongue-twister songs can be used as performance pieces. Make sure the words are enunciated clearly so the audience can understand the lyrics!

    More Tongue Twisters to Sing and Purchase

    5 Tongue Twisters - composed by Donna Rhodenizer

    This collection of 5 Tongue Twisters can be spoken or sung and they can be used as a challenge, a game, a warm-up, and for fun. They are a great tool for working on pronunciation and expressive delivery of text.

    Pass the Pasta - song composed by Donna Rhodenizer

    Pass the Pasta is a two-verse tongue twister that can be spoken or sung. Use it as a challenge, a game, a warm-up or just for fun.  It is a great tool for working on pronunciation and expressive delivery of text.

    Seven Sassy Sailors enjoy sailing the seven salty seas until they run into trouble and sink their schooner. Their sorry state is reflected by a switch to the minor key. Do not worry, they send an S.O.S, they are rescued, and the song finishes on a happy note.

    Seven Sassy Sailors - Tongue Twister - by Donna Rhodenizer
    Witch Watches - Tongue Twister song composed by Donna Rhodenizer

    Witch Watches is a twisty witch tale that fits with a Halloween theme, however, singers will enjoy singing this song at any time of the year.

    Try this notoriously difficult, but hilariously fun tongue twister warm-up:

    Pretty, Itty, Bitty, Kitty Unicorn (by Donna Rhodenizer & Nikki Loney)

    Donna Rhodenizer

    Composer, Elementary Music Specialist

    Donna Rhodenizer

    During her 37-year career as an elementary music educator, Donna has written many songs which have been premiered by her Grade 4-5 choir. Her total output of songs now totals over 500 and she continues to write about things that catch her imagination, turning them into songs for solo singers, school groups and choirs of all ages. She also writes songs for recorder, violin, handbells, piano, and organ. Donna’s music has found a place in the hearts and music libraries of music teachers and students around the world.                              

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