Whining, Whistling Whales

Mandy Coker

Emergent Literacy

Rationale:  For children to have the knowledge and understanding of how to read and write, they need to learn phonemes and the spellingsThis lesson will help the children to recognize the letter w and its phoneme /w/.  The goal of the lesson is for the students to learn to recognize /w/ in spoken words by learning mouth moves and gestures such as blowing out a candle.  The students will write the upper and lower case form of w by my modeling and finding /w/ in words. 


Chart with tongue twister, "When the weather is warm we will walk with William in the wild woods" and "White whales whistle when whining."

Primary paper for each student

Pencil for each student

Crayons for each student

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Worksheet with pictures of objects that start with the letter /w/ (ex. whale, someone walking, woods, whistle) and some that do not (barn, pool, car, bug).


1.I will introduce the lesson by talking about how we have to crack the code to figure out our secret language.  We have to figure out what each letter stands for and how it sounds to see if it fits the word correctly by breaking the code to see how our mouth moves.  Our mouth moves in many different ways when saying different words.  Today we are going to work on seeing the mouth move /w/ and doing it together.  As you become more familiar with it, you will be able to spot /w/ in a number of both written and spoken words.

 2.Pretend you are blowing out a candle.  Do you see and feel how your mouth goes when you are blowing out a candle?  Now I am going to say 'Whining, Whistling, Whales' and I am going to pay attention to the way my mouth is moving when I say 'Whining, Whistling, Whales'. Model how your mouth looks when you say the letter w (Lips make a circle). Let's all say together 'Whining, Whistling, Whales'.  Do you feel the way your mouth moves when you say /w/?  Then have the students practice doing this a couple of times.

3.Introduce the tongue twisters that are written on the chart.  Let's try the tongue twisters using the /w/ sound.  I will read it one time and then let's try it all together.  "When the weather is warm we will walk with William in the wild woods".  Now, let's say it together."  Point to each word as the children read them.  Now I want everyone to stretch out the /w/ sound.  Wwwhen the wwweather is wwwarm wwwe wwwill wwwalk wwwith Wwwilliam in the wwwild wwwoods.  Great job.  Now let's try "White whales whistle when whining."  Now let's say it together.  Point to each word as the children read them.  Let's all stretch out the /w/ sound again.  Wwwhite wwwhales wwwhistle wwwhen wwwhining.  Way to go.


4.Everyone needs to take out a piece of paper and a pencil for this next activity.  We are going to use the letter w to spell /w/.  We are going to learn how to write the upper and lower case w. 

5.The first thing we are going to learn how to do is to make an upper case W.  Everyone needs to take their pencil and place it on the roof of the first line (by this time children will understand that the top line is the roof, the dashed line is the fence, and the third line is the side walk on the primary paper).  Now, move your pencil in a slant down to the sidewalk.  Next, move your pencil up to the roof.  Take your pencil up to the fence.  Now, take your pencil back down to the sidewalk.  Last, take you pencil back up to the roof.  The instructions will be given slowly and I will make the w on the board with the children as the instructions are given.  I am going to walk around and see everyone's W.  After I see your paper I want you to write the upper case W five times and then stop until I give the next instructions.

6.Now we are all going to learn to write a lower case w.  Place you pencil on the fence, and now move your pencil down and stop at the sidewalk.  Next, move your pencil up to the fence.  Then, move your pencil back down to the sidewalk.  Last, move your pencil to the fence.  Way to go everyone.  Now, I want you to practice writing the lower case w five times. I will give the procedure again for writing the letter slowly, and also watch each student as they practice.

7. Now let me show you how to find the /w/ in the word swing.  I am going to stretch it out in slow motion.  I want you to listen for the /w/ sound.  S-s-w-w-i-ng.  S-s-w-w there it is.  I heard the /w/ sound in switch.

8. 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 and how you know it has the /w/ sound.  I will call on the one who is sitting still and quiet. 

            Weak or creak?

 Seal or wheel?

Switch or smile?

 Wash or clean?

9.Read Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes.  Today I am going to read you a book called Wemberly Worried. This book is about a young mouse that worries about everything even if she is very happy.  Wemberly has to start her first day of school tomorrow, but she is worried about something that we will not know if we do not read this book together.  While I am reading the book to you I want you to listen for words that have /w/ in them.  I am going to reread the book and if you hear a word with /w/ in it, then I want you to raise your hand when you hear it.  I will talk about the story as we read it.  List the words the students found on the board.  Allow the students to write about what was read on their paper using invented spelling. 

10.For assessment, distribute a sheet with pictures on it and have the students color the pictures that begin with the /w/ sound and x out the pictures that do not start with the /w/ sound.


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

Murray, Bruce. Moth Moves and Gestures for Phonemes http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/mouthmoves.html

Murray, Bruce.  Sound the Foghorn. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/navig/murrayel.html

Murray, Bruce.  Wallach and Wallach's Tongue Twisters. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/twisters.html

Rockwell, Leah.  Wacky Wednesday. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/voyages/rockwellel.html

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