Vicky the Vulture Vacuums Vans

Emergent Literacy

By: Lauren Keasal


The purpose of this lesson will be to help students learn to identify the phoneme /v/, represented by the letter "V".  It is important for students to, "…become aware of the sounds of language, to enjoy those sounds, and to use this knowledge as a tool in becoming literate" (Pinnell & Fountas, 1998, pp.3) They will learn to recognize /v/ in spoken words by learning the sound, a physical representation of the sound (driving a go cart) and looking at a picture. Each of these will help the students find /v/ in various words and will help the children distinguish this sound through their reading at the end of the lesson.

Materials: Primary paper, pencils, chart with "Vicky the Vulture Vacuums Vans", chalkboard, chalk, eraser, drawing paper, crayons, Violet's Music (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2004), and word cards with: VAT, VALLEY, MANILA, VASE, MAIL, and VOTE.

1. Begin the lesson by explaining that it is important to understand that letters correspond to specific sounds. Explain that by understanding this, it helps us learn to read and communicate with others. Today we will learn how to spot the mouth move /v/ in words. At first you might not be able to hear it but after we learn how to listen for it you will be able to. We spell /v/ with the letter "V".

2. Let's pretend to drive a go cart, /v/, /v/, /v/. (Mimic driving a go cart by moving your hands like they are on a steering wheel) Can you feel where your teeth are? They touch your bottom lip and then let go. When we say /v/, we touch our teeth to our bottom lip and then when our teeth let go air comes out.

3. Let me show you how to find /v/ in the word have. I will stretch have out in slow motion, make sure to listen for /v/ sound. Hhh-a-a-ve. Now slower: Hhhh-a-a-a-vvvve. I can feel the go-cart /v/ in have.

4. Here let's practice a tongue twister (on the chart). "Vicky the Vulture Vacuums Vans". Everybody let's repeat it together 3 times. Now let's stretch out the /v/ sound in the tongue twister.  "Vvvicky the Vvvulture Vvvacuums Vvvans". Now let's try it again and this time separate the /v/ sound off of the beginning of the word. "/v/ icky the  /v/ ulture /v/ acuums /v/ ans".

5. Now we will take out the primary paper and pencils to practice writing the letter "V". I will model to the students how to write a uppercase and lowercase "V" on the chalkboard. We use the letter "V" to spell the sound /v/. First we will practice writing the letter "V" first as an uppercase letter. Start at the rooftop then down to the sidewalk and back up to the rooftop. Next we will practice writing a lowercase letter "v". To write this letter, start at the fence and trace down to the sidewalk and back up to the fence. Raise your hand after you finish one of each and I will come put a check next to it. The class will then write both upper and lower case "V" about 7 times unless more times are necessary. Each student will then pick and circle his or her best uppercase and lowercase letter.

6. Next, call on the students to answer the following questions and tell them to explain their answer: Do you hear /v/ in violin or trumpet? vest or coat ? veggies or fruits? van or car? vine or branch? Say: See if you can spot the mouth move /v/ in the following words. Make sure to drive the go-cart if you hear /v/: very, happy, whale, save, flew, pumpkin, village, pick, live.

7. Read "Violet's Music" by Angela Johnson. Every time they hear the /v/ sound have the students pretend to drive the go-cart. Say: Ever since Violet was a baby she only wanted to play music. When she goes to kindergarten she sees that everyone is involved in different activities, but none of her friends love music like she does. She really wants to play an instrument but she is too young. We will have to read to see if she ever learns how to play an instrument!

8. Show VAT on the chalk board. Then model how to decide if it is vat or hat: The "V" tells me to drive my go-cart, /v/, so this word is vvv-at, vat. Now I will let you all try some words. You try some: VALLEY: sally or valley? MANILA: vanilla or manila? VASE: vase or base? MAIL: mail or veil? VOTE: vote or mote?

9. Say: Now we are going to make a class book. Everyone needs to come up with a sentence that has at least one word that starts with "V", /v/. After you finish writing your sentence raise your hand and I will come around look at what you wrote. When I give you a check mark I will give you a piece of paper where you will write your sentence again. Then you will draw a picture that shows what you said in your sentence. After everyone is done you should laminate the book, punch holes in it and string a piece of yarn through each hole to keep the book from falling apart. Finally, call each of the students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step 8.


Pinnell, G.S., and Fountas, I. Word Matters: Teaching Phonics and Spelling  in the Reading/Writing Classroom. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann. 1998. pp.79, 306.

Johnson, Angela. Violet's Music. New York. Dial Books for Young Readers. 2004. pp. 1-32.

Murray, Bruce. "Brush Your Teeth with F: Emergent Literacy".

Harris, Katherine. "Penelope, the Precious Pig: Emergent Literacy".

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