Friday, May 18, 2012

Poetry Friday: Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes (Brian P. Cleary)

For Poetry Friday, I have a rollicking fun selection:  Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes and Other Tricky Tongue Twisters (by Brian P. Cleary).  It is not poetry in the traditional sense, but there are many poetic elements—rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and consonance.   These sound devices are great tools for building early literacy skills and language proficiency.  For example:  
The people with
the purple paper
pranced in their
pants by the
simple steeple.  

There are several examples of alliteration (the same beginning sound)—people/purple/paper/pranced/pants and simple/steeple.   Children can recognize the sounds they frequently hear and pick out the specific words with those sounds.  Older children can identify consonance (repetition of same sounds anywhere in the word).  The emphasis on the “p” sound is underlined.    Encourage listeners to identify how many “p’s” they hear (10 total).  Another example emphasizes other sound devices:  

Sasha shifted as she sifted
through the thistle
for her sister’s whistle.

There is end rhyme (thistle/whistle) and internal rhyme (shifted/sifted).  Alliteration and consonance are present, but there is also assonance (repetition of the same vowel sound) which is trickier to identify.  The underlined letters indicate where the short "i" sound is located.

The tongue twisters are written similar to poetic lines.  Some could possibly work as simple poems based on their end words and structure while others seem random in their breaks.   With older children, parents and teachers can begin a basic discussion on what makes a poem a poem.  In other words, how do we know the difference between poetry and prose? 

The illustrations (by Steve Mack) are bright and colorful, making them enticing for young readers. The tongue twisting lines make for humorous and creative pictures, many focusing on animal antics. 

I recommend Six Sheep Sip Thick Shakes and Other Tricky Tongue Twisters for ages 3-9.  Young listeners and readers will find the tongue twisters pleasurable to their ears and the dynamic pictures a feast for the eyes.  This tongue twisting ride is sure to prompt children to create their own twisters.  They will be having so much fun doing it that they won't realize they are practicing important language and reading skills.  Round in out with the opportunity for them to illustrate each one they write.  

For other great poetry related posts, visit Write. Sketch. Repeat.


  1. Kids LOVE tongue-twisters!! Thank you for reminding that so much can be taught about words and poetry through these fun linguistic tricks!

  2. You're welcome. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Thanks for this post! I just ordered a copy of the book and will use it next week to wrap up my figurative language unit.


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