Worm in a Wagon

Emergent Literacy

Ashlyn Pouncey


Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /w/, the phoneme represented by W. Students will learn to recognize /w/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (wow!) and the letter symbol W, practice finding /w/ in words and apply phonetic awareness with /w/ in phonemic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Worm in a wagon”; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with WORM, WAGON, MONKEY, WHITE, BALL; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /w/.


1. Say: Our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for-the mouth moves we make as we saw words. Today we’re going to work on spotting the mouth move for /w/. We spell /w/ with letter W. W looks like an upside M, and /w/ sounds like “wow!” when you are impressed.

2. Let’s pretend to be amazed/impressed, /w/, /w/, wow! Notice the way your mouth is shaped when you make the /w/ sound. Your mouth forms a small circle shape to make the /w/ sound.

3. Let me show you how to find /w/ in the word meow. I’m going to stretch meow out in super slow motion and listen for my “wow” (making the /w/ mouth move). Mm-e-e-ow. Slower: Mm-e-e-e-ow-w. There it was! I felt my mouth forming the W circle.

4. Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Worms in a wagon” Everyone say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /w/ at the beginning of the words. “Wwworms in a wwwagon.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/w/ orms in a /w/ agon.”

5. Have students take out primary paper and pencil. We use letter W to spell /w/. Capital W looks like am upside down M letter. Let’s write the lowercase w. Start at the fence going down to the sidewalk, then bounce right back up and down and then back up again to the sidewalk. I want to see everyone’s w. After put a check by it, I want you to make nine more just like it.

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /w/ in work or fun? whale or fish? walk or run? Say: Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /w/ in some words. Make you amazing face if you hear /w/. The, wobbly, whale, swam, through, the, white, water.

7. Say: “Let’s look at the alphabet book. There are all kinds of animals in this book that begin with every single letter of the alphabet! Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with a W. Can you guess? Read W page, drawing out /w/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /w/. Ask them to make up a silly creature name. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly creature: Display their work.

8. Show WAS and model how to decide if it is was or saw: The W tells me to form a circle with my mouth, so this word is www-a-ss. You try some: WALL: wall or mall?  WRITE: write or tight? WORM: worm or squirm? FARM: charm or farm? (as a non-example)

9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to complete the partial spellings and color the picture that begin with W. Call students individually to read the phonemic cue words from step #8.



Suess, Dr. ABC. Beginner Books, 1963.

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