33 of the Best Tongue Twisters for Kids
Help your kids with language development while having fantastic frolicking finger-licking fun with these tongue twisters.
As adults, it’s easy to forget how complicated speech really is, especially when you’re first learning it. Not only do small children have to figure out things like grammar and vocabulary but they’ve also got to learn how to form sounds, put them together into syllables, then into words, and finally decipher the meaning in different contexts, says Diane Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. One way to help kids do all that is through the use of tongue twisters.
“This type of wordplay forces them to slow down and become aware of the language while still having fun,” she says. “It can be a great tool for helping them learn to read and write.”
It doesn’t always go to plan—check out these hilariously cute things kids said by mistake.
How to use tongue twisters with your kids
Tongue twisters are supposed to be fun, so make it a game—but a game you play with them, Dr. Paul says. “Do it with them so you can model the proper speech and correct any mistakes before they become bad habits,” she says. Her tips for tongue twisters: Start by taking it slow, working through each sound with them, and explaining the meanings and why it’s funny. Then let them do it on their own. Challenge your kids to beat you in time or repetitions. Ask them what they like about it. Finally, help them come up with their own tongue twisters.
A warning about tongue twisters
You shouldn’t use tongue twisters with children who have an existing speech difficulty. “You don’t want a kid who is having a lot of trouble saying a particular sound to repeatedly say the sound wrong,” she says. “This can be frustrating and reinforce erroneous patterns, setting them up for failure.” Instead, if your child is having trouble with their speech, talk to a professional about what exercises are best for them, she says. Did you know screen time is linked to speech delays?
The best tongue twisters for kids
Ready to start? We rounded up the funniest, coolest, and (shhh!) most educational phrases to play with your children.
“No need to light a night-light on a light night like tonight.”
Not only does this play to something even young children understand but it can give you an opening to talk about their sleep and bedtime habits.
Two scoops, please
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.”
This may be one of the top tongue twisters for kids of all time because it is fun to say (or scream) and it talks about dessert, a favorite kid topic, Dr. Paul says. Early and clear speech may be a sign your kid is a genius.
“Red leather, yellow leather.”
This tongue twister seems easy at first but the faster you go, the crazier it gets. This one is a good one to “race” with your kids. These are hard to say but can you spell the most misspelled words in America?
“Super-duper stormtroopers whoop it up at Death Star groupers.”
Rhymes are a critical element of many tongue twisters which adds to the fun but also improves diction, Dr. Paul says. Kids will love the Star Wars references. For older kids, add on the rest of the rhyme, “helmet thrashing, rebel bashing, laser-blasting at party poopers.”
A kitten fairytale
“Kindly kittens knitting mittens keep kazooing in the king’s kitchen.”
This tongue twister tells a whole story in a single sentence. Ask your child to use their imagination to fill in the fun details.
How many saws?
“I saw a saw that could out saw any other saw I ever saw.”
One of the best things about tongue twisters is they show children that the same word can have different meanings based on context and inflection, Dr. Paul says. This particular one shows three different ways to use the word “saw.” This is why the most complicated word in the English language is only three letters long.
“Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat.”
Don’t dismiss this as too simple before you try it! These sounds are hilariously difficult to keep clear and separate repetition after repetition. If your child is into sports, check out these funny sports puns.
What even is a woodchuck?
“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
Many adults couldn’t pick a woodchuck out of a lineup but everyone knows the famous tongue twister about the rodent. There’s a reason this is a classic! “This, and twisters like it, help us learn about the complexities of the speech and language system,” Dr. Paul says.”
Did you say cimmamon?
“A synonym for cinnamon is a cinnamon synonym.”
This sequence of sounds is difficult for all ages and you’ll often hear adults calling the spice “cimmamom.” If you’ve mastered that one, make sure you know the hardest words to spell in the English language.
Do you have a puppy?
“If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?”
Your kids might actually know the answer to this sad-but-true tongue twister.
For the win
“He threw three free throws.”
This tongue twister gives basketball-obsessed kids a reason to work on their diction and math skills. How many points were scored? Here’s why every kid should be told they are incredible.
Poor bald bear
“Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?”
This is one of Dr. Paul’s favorite tongue twisters for kids. “The difference between ‘Wuzzy’ and ‘was he’ is just a slight change in inflection and phrasing,” she says.
We need the backstory
“Brave, bleeding boys battle bald, biting babies.”
Kids love a joke that feels silly but also a little dangerous. Plus, it can give you a chance to address sibling rivalry or an older child’s concerns about a baby on the way. Try these brain games that will test your smarts.
“Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?”
Strangely there’s no mention of dancing the Can-Can in this silly tongue twister. But there should be! Here are some funny words you probably never knew about.
Don’t feed cats cheese
“Chester cheetah chews a chunk of cheap cheddar cheese.”
Cheddar cheese is often one of the favorite foods, even for picky children.
“Fresh French fried fly fritters.”
French fries are delicious! And so are fritters! But are they as yummy if flies are involved? PS. Here’s why McDonald’s fries don’t taste the way they used to.
Betty is a secret shopper
“Betty bought butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.”
After practicing this riddle, see how many dishes or foods with butter that your child can name. This is the best way to figure out a word on the tip of your tongue.
“Rubber baby buggy bumpers.”
There is a lot here for curious kids to explore. What’s a baby buggy? Why would it have bumpers? Is the baby rubber or the buggy?
“Birdie birdie in the sky laid a turdie in my eye.”
Sure, it’s gross. That’s why kids love this tongue twister. Feeling exhausted with this game? Here’s how to play with your kids when you’re really tired.
Don’t clam up
This little ditty might even encourage your child to try eating seafood.
How is the snake holding the rake?
“Rory’s lawn rake rarely rakes really right.”
Even young children benefit from having simple daily chores and raking is a popular (and fun) one to do in the fall. If you’re really lucky (at least from your child’s perspective), you’ll find a snake.
For kids who like a challenge
“The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”
This strange sentence held the Guinness World Record for the toughest twister—at least it did until the category was eliminated. Is your child fascinated with records? Check out the coolest world records ever set by kids.
They what, now?
“Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.”
This starts out sounding like a strange math problem but ends with a strange story about thievery and masonry. Before you laugh, could you pass this elementary school math test?
“Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal.”
Tongue twisters are a great way to teach children about other languages and familiarize them with those sounds, Dr. Paul says. This Spanish sentence translates to “Three sad tigers were eating wheat in a field.”
“The bottom of the butter bucket is the buttered bucket bottom.”
There’s just something funny about buttering the bottom of anything but a bucket is particularly ridiculous.
It’s a date
“I have got a date at a quarter to eight. I’ll see you at the gate, so don’t be late.”
Does your kid have more of a social life than you do? It doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s how to make mom friends.
Calling Mary Poppins fans
Kids who love the classic movie will certainly want to try their hand (tongue?) at the show’s signature tongue twister. Even better, it comes with a song to help! Check out these 10 pop songs ruined by bad grammar.
Never buy cheap leather
“Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better.”
This is one of the stranger things you could say to your kids but it’s fun. However, make sure you’re avoiding these things you should never, ever say to children.
Cleanliness is a good habit
“I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch.”
It’s probably not the best advice to wash a wristwatch but it sure is fun to talk about!
Happy birthday… to all of you
“Thirty-three thousand people think that Thursday is their 30th birthday.”
This may be a strange thing to think about but did you know you share your birthday with about 21 million other people on the planet? With only 365 special days to go around, birthday twins are more common than you think.
“Buckets of bug blood.”
Do bugs have blood? Kids fascinated with creepy crawlies will love this tongue twister. Then you can share with them these 13 bizarre bug facts that will totally freak you out.
“Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”
This Sally chick has been hawking her seashells by the shore for centuries now and kids remain just as entertained by her business now as they were then. Just watch out for inflation, those shells ain’t cheap anymore.
“Brisk brave brigadiers brandished broad bright blades, blunderbusses, and bludgeons balancing them badly.”
This tongue twister should give your kids plenty of ideas for their next imaginary pirate battle—after you explain to them what all those weird words mean! (Hint: a blunderbuss is a type of old-fashioned gun.)
Next, read on for the toughest tongue twisters of all time.
- Diane Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP, director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association