flapping: not just for wings anymore
Talk to the children in your group about ventriloquists and how they speak without
moving their lips. Ask them if they would like to conduct a test to see if there are any
promising ventriloquists in the group. Fortunately, you happen to have a supply of lip-movement testers, which you will now distribute. The “testers” are described in detail on
the Materials page. Briefly, they are strips of card stock about 1 in x 3 in, and
each student gets two pieces.
Instruct the children to wet their lips and apply one piece of card-stock to their upper lip
and one to their lower lip, so that it makes a kind of skinny duckʼs bill. Not too far into
the mouth--that will cause problems producing certain sounds (like /f/) that involve the teeth and lips, but far enough so that, when the mouth is closed, the two pieces lie flat against one another. In a pinch, you could use regular copier paper; construction paper is better, but both of these will flap as the air comes out of the childrenʼs mouths. This is not a bad thing, but the card-stock is stiff enough to withstand the exiting breath and thus allows for a focus on certain consonants, which is our point of entry for this suite.
While the children are flapping their lips, tell them that you and they are going to
observe and record the sounds that seem to make the paper flap the most. You can do
this in small groups or teams, individually, or as a class. If youʼre videotaping, you can
always review, but if not, make sure that anyone can nominate candidates for sounds that are “lipmovers.”
For now, you could use a black/whiteboard or chart paper. Later you can post
the final results of your data-gathering in a public place, where you can add to them