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Using Alliterative Songs to Teach Letter Sounds
or Perfect Practice! Classic Classroom Capers!
A Little Alliteration goes a Long Long Way!
Nancy Schimmel and Fran Avni

This lesson is excerpted from Fran Avni's I'm All Ears: Sing Into Reading.

"A little alliteration is a lot of fabulous phonemic fun!!!  Tongue-twisters are a terrific teaching technique for zany zoning in on actual articulating exercises . Careful concentration on consonant clusters and contrasts playfully provides perfect practice and memorable musical methods for vivid viable valuable language learning!!!!"

This first song is both an introduction to and definition of alliteration.  If "alliteration" sounds like too long a word for young children, remember that they can easily master "tyrannosaurus!"

Muffin Mix
© Nancy Schimmel and Fran Avni

Mmm, muffins!
I love munching muffins.
Make me muffins for my lunch,
Please, O please and thanks a bunch.


When the first sounds sound alike
As in Betsy bought a bike,
Or Steve's still standing at the station,
We call that alliteration.

I stop when I hear snakesound.
Stay right still, leave me alone,
I only speak to snakes by phone.


Shhh! Shushing,
Shortly we'll be shushing.
Shut the sheep in the shearing shed,
Take the shaggiest one to bed.

     Find alliterations in other songs, poems, slogans, titles. As it happens, there is an alliterative picture book featuring sheep. It's Six Sleepy Sheep by Jeffie Ross Gordon (Puffin, 1991). To find out more about shearing, try Charlie Needs a Cloak  by Tomie De Paola (Prentice-Hall, 1974). A shepherd shears his sheep, cards, spins, weaves, dyes, and sews a new red cloak.

   Play "I Know Susie." One child says "I know Susie, she likes __________ (salad)."  The next says "I know Susie, she has a ___________(skateboard)." Keep making up things about Susie that start with the same sound as her name.  Try it with other names.

    Here is an alliterative chant for /sh/

Surely Shirley Shaffer
© Fran Avni 1998

Surely Shirley Shaffer shouldn't shake the sugar, should she?
Shake the sugar, should she? shake the sugar, should she?
Surely Shirley Shaffer shouldn't shake the sugar, should she?
Sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh!!!!!

   Have everyone try it, then take off from it to experiment with the /sh/ sound as a percussion effect. It can be done loudly or softly, or alternate loud and soft. It will sound like various shakers: maracas, shekere.

   Put sugar and salt in containers and shake them. Can you hear a difference? What about rice and macaroni? Individual juice cans make good containers. Rinse and let dry thoroughly. Add rice or whatever. Close the opening with tape and paint the can and you've got a shaker for the rhythm band.

   Here is our alliterative song for /t/:

Two Tired Toddlers
© Fran Avni 1996

Two tired toddlers twiddled twenty tiny toes, twenty tiny toes,
Twenty toes two toddlers twiddled,
Two tired toddlers twiddled twenty tiny toes,
Twenty toes two tired toddlers twiddled.

   Focus on toes. Every time the word comes up, wiggle those toes!

  Saying /t/t/t/t/t/ is similar to the high hat sound of a drum kit.  Suggest different rhythm patterns of t/ sounds for the children and divide the group into sections. Try alternating shaker-sound sections saying /ch/ and /sh/ with the high-hat section saying /t/. /Sh/   /ch/  /t/t/t   /sh/   /ch/   /t/t/t , and have a third section sing the song.

   Try the same exercise with /t/ and /d/ that you did with /ch/ and /j/.  Put your fingers on your voice box and say /t/ and /d/. What's the difference?

   Here is our alliterative song for /l/:

Lily Loves Listening to Lullabyes
© Fran Avni 1996

Lily loves listening to lullabyes
Liltingly lovely lullabyes.
Lily loves listening to lullabyes
Liltingly lovely lullabyes.

   To focus on the first sounds of words, try removing all the initial /l/'s. 
"-ily -oves -istening to -lullabyes"...etc.

More of alliterative songs can be found on Songs that Teach Sounds of Letters, Digraphs, and Blends.

Many thanks to Fran Avni and Nancy Schimmel for permission to publish this lesson.
© Nancy Schimmel and Fran Avni 1998.  All rights reserved.
Lyrics may be reproduced for classroom use only.

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