Posted in Writing Ideas

How To Have Fun With Alliteration and Tongue Twisters

Alliteration is simply the repetition of words beginning with the same letter/sound.

Its hold on our senses begins as soon as we are made aware of language in childhood, with rhymes such as ‘Sing a Song of Sixpences’ and ‘A ring, a ring o’ roses’. Plus a host of alliterating characters from ‘Little Boy Blue’ to ‘Wee Willie Winkle’.

How can you use the power of alliteration in your clasroom?

Alliterating With Your Class

Here are two tried and tested ideas that your children will enjoy engaging with:

A New Register

A simple whole-class poem can be quickly created by using young children’s first names in the manner of those nursery rhyme characters previously mentioned.

Just add a suitable adjective to those names to get ‘Amazing Anyusha’, ‘Brill Barry’ etc.

Arrange it all into alphabetical order and you’ve got a whole new way of taking the register!

A Magic Cafe

Blog post from Goodeyedeers - Why Don't We Alliterate?

A more elaborate version of this idea is to tell the class you’re going to open a cafe – a magic cafe – and they are all going to be the food and drink.

So, you might have ‘Louis the Lollipop’, Rachel the Ribena (or Radish or Rhubarb) and so on.

Older children can be encouraged to develop the alliteration by adding adjectives, for example, to make ‘Sasha the Super Sandwich’.

I like to work with dictionaries to hand, to model to children the way in which major information text can be fully accessed.

Also, given the appeal of rhyme, I like to intersperse a chorus between every so many name-lines. Something like:

Good to meet
Good to greet
This class is
Good enough to eat.

This would support the experiencing and assimilating of sound patterns, as well as holding the whole text together and making it a jolly good read-out-loud.

Creating A World of Sound

Young children take undeniable pleasure in this sound-world, and learning can occur through even the simplest of activities. You could, for example:

  • have a ‘sound-sack’, with objects in it beginning with the same letter; children can feel the objects to guess them and the letter
  • create a ‘wonder-wall’ with pictures clustered according to their initial letter
  • play ‘silly supermarkets’, where you can buy anything as long as it starts with a given letter.

Children are, of course, surrounded by alliterative language each and every day, in adverts and slogans, in cartoons and cartoon characters, in newspaper headlines, and in the discourse of the playground where tongue twisters abound.

Collections and displays of all these types of language foster language-awareness and a realisation that such word-play isn’t restricted to the ‘stuff’ we label poetry, though alliterative extracts from rhymes and poems should take their rightful place in any display.

Tongue Twisters

Blog post from Goodeyedeers - Why Don't We Alliterate?

One worthwhile use of a well-known tongue twister is to show it to the children and ask them to change it, one word at a time, to produce a new twister based on a fresh key letter. So:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper

might become

Mary Mucker mixed a mess of muddy mangoes

Adaptation of the original’s remaining three lines becomes a fun grammar exercise.

Mary Mucker mixed a mess of muddy mangoes.
A mess of muddy mangoes Mary Mucker mixed.
If Mary Mucker mixed a mess of muddy mangoes,
Where’s the mess of muddy mangoes Mary Mucker mixed?

I hope I have given you a few ideas to go and try out with your class.

Have fun!

If you would like a PowerPoint lesson and teacher’s notes to do more work on tongue twisters with your children check out ‘Tongue Twisters To Tickle The Tonsils’  or ‘Times Table Tongue Twisters’ at The Goodeyedeers Shop.

David and Mike Goodeyedeers

A link to The Goodeyedeers Shop at TES Resources


A writer of short stories.

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