Anatomy, Breathing, and Articulators


The students will gain an understanding of breath support and vocal anatomy by participating in breathing exercises and completing an anatomy diagram worksheet. They will demonstrate their knowledge of articulation and diction by writing and performing their own tongue twister.


Materials Needed

Copy of vocal anatomy diagram worksheet for each student,

Freeing the Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater pgs. 54-57)


Related Documents


Lesson Directions

Anticipatory Set/Hook

Breathing exercise

Have the students spread out and find a place on the floor to lie down with their legs straight out and hand on either side of their body with the palms facing up. Tell the students to close their eyes and take deep relaxing breaths. Tell them to breath out silent sighs of relief to get rid of any and all tension they are feeling.

Then read through “Step 7” in Linklater’s Freeing the Natural Voice to help get the students to completely free themselves of tension and focus on their breathing.

Have the students place a hand on their stomach and breath in slowly on a 3-count and then out completely on a 5-count. Encourage them to pay attention to which direction their hand is moving when they take their breaths. Ask them to share which way their hand went.


Tell the students that inside their chest, their lungs are expanding when they breathe in and since the ribs don’t expand as far out as the lungs could, the lungs push down on the diaphragm which pushes the organs in your abdomen out of the way.



Step 1: Rib expansion

Explain to the students that the source of our voice is our breath. In order to get sufficient breath we need to work our muscles that help support our breath. The muscles in between the ribs are called intercostals. These are the muscles we are going to start working with.

Have the students take in a deep breath on a 5-count and hold it. Then expanding the ribs out even further, take in an even deeper breath without exhaling at all. Then let it out completely. Repeat this 3 times.


Step 2:  Diaphragm

Ask the students who can explain what your diaphragm is to the class. (The thin sheet of muscles attached at the base of the ribs and separating the lungs from the abdominal organs) Have the students place their hands on their stomach and breath in for a 3-count and while breathing out say “huh-huh-huh-huh-huh” etc. until out of air. Tell them to try to notice the diaphragm pushing upwards on their lungs with every huh to assist with pushing the air out. Explain that it is very important that they learn to use their diaphragm while speaking so that their throat and vocal cords don’t get permanently damaged.



Have the students slowly turn onto their bellies, get on all fours, then slowly start to sit up. Then when they feel ready they can stand up all the way and go back to their seat.


Step 3: Vocal anatomy Worksheet

Pass out the vocal anatomy worksheet. Go over each of the body parts on the list and talk about their function. (Teeth, lips, tongue, hard/soft palette are all articulators, the lungs are what supply the breath needed for vocal production, the vocal cords are what vibrate as the air passes through in order to create a certain sound with varying pitch, the larynx, nasal cavity, mouth cavity, chest as areas of resonance, etc.)


Step 4: Articulators

Tell the students to repeat after you saying, “The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue. The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips.” Articulation is one of the most important aspects of vocal production because if it weren’t for articulators we would all just be making varying moaning noises and communication would be extremely difficult.

Ask the students for an example of a letter that uses the teeth as an articulator.

What letters use the tongue as an articulator? (Go through examples with the class)

What letters use the lips as an articulator?


 Ask the students for an example of a tongue twister that they can share with the class.

What is the purpose behind tongue twisters?

Why do them?

Tell a couple to the students and have them try saying them 3 times fast.

–          Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

–          Cinnamon synonym

–          Toy boat – toy boat – toy boat


Step 5: Tongue Twisters

Tell the students to find a partner and together come up with their own brand new tongue twister. Tell them it must be at least five words long and can incorporate alliteration or assonance. Ask the students to provide definitions for those from English class.



When the students are all finished, have each pair get up in front of the class and read their tongue twister to the class together. If easy enough to remember, have the whole class practice repeating it. The students will then turn in their tongue twister on a piece of paper after they perform it.