Wishy Washy

Lauren Rockwell

Emergent Literacy Plan



“When children perceive the relationships existing between the sounds of spoken words and the letters in written words, word recognition occurs more rapidly than when they do not perceive such relationships.” (Eldredge 25).  The lesson will help the students identify /w/.  They will learn to recognize /w/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation, mouth moves, and a letter symbol.  They will also identify /w/ in written words. 


Chart with tongue twister “Why won’t William watch the whales in the water”?, primary paper for each student and pencil, drawing paper and crayons, Wemberly Worried, picture worksheet (use pictures with /w/ sound), small mirrors for each child


1.Introduce the lesson by explaining to the students that our written language is a secret code.  Today, we are going to try to break the code.  We can break the code if we learn that our mouth moves in different ways when we say different letters.  We are going to work with the sound the letter “w” makes.  You will be able to pick out /w/ in different spoken and written words. 

2.Has anyone ever helped their mom or dad wash clothes in the washing machine?  When I hear the washing machine I hear a wishy washy sound.  Lets’s all say “wishy washy.”  Do you feel the way your mouth moves when you say /w/ in wishy washy?  What movement do you think of when you think of a washing machine.  I think of spinning and turning.  Everyone get up and spin and let’s say “wwwwishy wwwwashy.”

3.Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart) using the /w/ sound.  “Why won’t William watch the whales in the water”?  Can we say it three times together?  Good job!  Let’s say it a little bit differently this time.  I want everyone to pick up the little mirror I have placed on your desk.  I want you to watch your lips as we stretch out the /w/ sound in our tongue twister.  Wwwy wwwon’t Wwwilliam wwwatch the wwwhales in the wwwater.  Great, did everyone see your lips in the mirror?  Ok let’s break it off the word:  /w/ hy /w/ on’t /w/ illiam /w/ atch the /w/ hales in the /w/ ater?

4.Please take out you primary paper and your pencil.  We are going to keep working at breaking this code.  We are going to use the letter w to spell /w/.  Let’s learn to write it.  (Demonstrate).  Start at the fence.  Go down to the sidewalk.  Slant back up to the fence.  Slant back down to the sidewalk and go back up to the fence.  I am going to walk around and see everyone’s w.  After I see your paper I want you to write the letter w eight times.  When you see the letter w all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /w/.  Wishy washy.

5.Let me show you how to find /w/ in the word swung.  I’m going to stretch it out is slow motion.  I want you to listen for the wishy washy washing machine.  S-s-w-w-u-u-n-n-g-g.  S-s-w-w…there it is.  I hear the wishy washy washing machine. 

6.I am going to give you two words and I want you to tell me which word has the /w/ sound.  Raise your hand if you know which word it is.  Wait or stop?  Sea or water?  Server or Waiter?  Wing or sing?  Should or Would?  Tore or Wore?  Great job!  I want everyone to stand up.  I am going to say some words when you hear the /w/ sound I want you to spin like a wishy washy washing machine.  Wednesday, was, apple, orange, because, wait, whistle, picture, work, book.      

7.Read Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes.  Talk about the story as we read it.  Reread the story again and have students touch their head when they hear words with /w/.  List the words the students found on the board.  Have students illustrate a time when they were worried and then write a message about the illustration using invented spelling. 

8.For an assessment the students will be handed a sheet with pictures on the page that have the /w/ sound and some that don’t have the /w/ sound.  The students will circle the pictures that contain the /w/ sound.  They must also write the letter w three times on primary paper. 


Eldredge, Lloyd J. Teach Decoding Why and How.  2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ. 

Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall: 2005. Page 25.  

Henkes, K. Wemberly Worried. Greenwillow Publishing: 2000.

Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website. “Sound the Foghorn.”


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