Washing Machine Worries


Emergent Literacy Design

Teri Crum


Rational: This lesson will help children identify the phoneme /w/, which is represented by the grapheme F.  Students will learn to decipher /w/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation through the side to side movement of a washing machine in connection with the letter symbol W, engage in self observation of mouth movement when producing the phoneme /w/, practice identifying /w/ in words, and apply the phoneme awareness with /w/ while engaged in phonetic cue reading.


Materials:  Hand held mirrors, chart with “Wemberly worried about the washing machine wiggles”, primary paper, pencils, Wemberly Worried (Greenwillow Books, 2000), crayons, drawing paper, word cards: WING, WET, MAKE, WORK, SMOOTH, WIND, TALK, LENT, and SWING; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /w/ (URL below).


Procedures: 1. Say: Our written language has a special code.  The tricky part is learning figuring out the code, meaning what the letters represent and how our mouth moves as we say the words. Today, we are going to focus on learning how our mouth moves for /w/.  We represent /w/ with the letter W.  The side to side movement of a washing machine is like our mouth movement in making the sound /w/ and washing machine begins with W.


2. Let’s pretend that we are a washing machine and gently move from side to side, /w/, /w/, /w/. [Give out hand held mirrors] Using your mirror notice what your lips are doing.  They begin in a closed/pursed/wrinkled circle and move in an opening motion to the side to make a wider circle. While we are moving our mouth, we are also blowing air out of our mouth when making the phoneme /w/.


3. I will show you how to find the /w/ in the word swish. I am going to exaggerate swish by stretching it out in slow motion. Watch for when my lips first begin to be pursed together and then open. Ss-ww-ii-sssh.  Slower: Sss-www-i-i-i-sssh.  Did you feel it? On the second phoneme I noticed that my lips pursed together then begin to blow air out of my mouth as my lips were making a wider circle to produce the /w/ in the word swish.


4. [Already printed on chart] Now let’s look at our chart.  I have a tongue tickler for us to try.  This is the tongue tickler “Wemberly worried about the washing machine wiggles.” Let’s say it together and this time let’s say it three times in a row. Now, let’s say it again and this time we will say it only one time but I want us to stretch the /w/ at the beginning of the words. “Wwwemberly Wwworried about the wwwashing machine wwwiggles.”  I have one more way that we can say it.  This time let’s say it cutting /w/ off the word: “/w/ emberly /w/ orried about the  /w/ashing machine /w/ iggles.”


5.  [Students need to take out primary paper and pencil].  We use W to spell /w/.  The capital W and the lowercase w look similar.  Their size differentiates them from one another.  Remember when we write a capital W we begin at the roof top. We slant down, up, down and up. Now let’s look at how we write a lowercase wStart at the fence on your paper and slant down to the sidewalk, slant up to the fence, slant down to the sidewalk and then slant up again to the fence.  Notice that we use the same motion in making the capital letter W but we only allow the lowercase w to be as tall as the fence.  I wish to see everyone’s w. After I put a stamp on it, I would like for you to write nine more just like it.



6. Response time from students.  Call on students to give answer and allow them to explain their response: Do you hear /w/ in lake or wagon? radio or  wed? weasel or easel? neck or waist? with or sift? Now let’s see if you can recognize the /w/ mouth movement in some of these words.  Gently move side to side like a washing machine if you hear /w/:  Wednesday, red, pizza, work, swirl, sit, tomato, wild, flower, swag.


7. Say:  “Now let’s read a story.  Kevin Henkes writes about a young mouse that worries about everything.  Her name is Wemberly.  It seems that everyday she is worried about something.  The title of the book is Wemberly Worried. Let’s read this story to find out about her worries.  While we are reading the story I wish for you to listen for words that have /w/ in them.  I would like for you to gently place your hands open on the sides of your face like you might be worried every time we read a word that supports the /w/ in a word in the text.   


8. Show WING and model on how to figure out if it is sing or wing.  The W tells me to purse my lips, /w/ so this word is www-ing, wing.  [Show word cards] Now let’s have you try some: WET: wet or pet? MAKE: wake or make? WORK: pork or work? SMOOTH: switch or smooth? WIND: wind or bend? TALK: walk or talk? LENT: lent or went? SWING: swing or stand?


9. Assessment: [Worksheets, pencils and crayons needed] Hand out the worksheet “What Begins with W?” Students are to complete words by writing in the beginning letter then they are to color the picture that begins with W.  If an additional assessment sheet is needed have students complete the “Beginning Sound Ww”.  Students are to color the pictures that begin like weasel.  Call on students to share aloud which pictures that they colored. Students will be observed for participation putting hands on face for recognizing /w/ words in the read aloud.  Students will be called on individually to read the phonetic cue words from step number 8. 


Reference:   Adams, Marilyn Jager. (1990). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print, A Summary by Steven A. Stahl, Jean Osborn, and Fran Lehr.  Urbana, IL: Center for the Study of Reading. (pp. 36-48). Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press


Murray, Dr. Bruce. Making Friends With Phonemes. The Reading Genie



Long, Angela Carroll. Wemberly’s Wonderful Wonders. Inspirations. 2003



Assessment Worksheet:          http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/w-begins2.htm



Return to the Adventures index.