Vacuuming Up


Emergent Literacy
Lauren Long

Rationale:   Phonemic awareness and letter recognition directly correlate with children's success in reading, spelling, and writing endeavors.  Children can recognize phonemes not only through spoken word, but also through mouth movements and vocal gestures.  This lesson, "Vacuuming Up Violets," exposes children to the written letter "v" in order to enhance their letter recognition skills and the phoneme /v/ in order to enhance their phonemic awareness. 

- Phoneme (/v/) picture of vacuum
- Chart paper with tongue twister written on it ("Victor gave Val violets for Valentine's Day.")
- Primary paper (one per child)
- Pencil (one per child)
- Decodable text, Vin and Val
- Chart paper with lyrics to "Do You Know the Valley Man?" song
- Chalkboard or whiteboard for class-wide activity
- "Color the Pictures" assessment worksheet  (


1. Introduce the lesson. Tell the students, "Today, we are investigators.  When you see writing, it's like a secret code.  Now we are going to break some of that code and learn about a new letter and the sound it makes!  We are going to learn about "v" and the sound it makes.  Can you say "/v/"?  It's the sound we hear when we say the word 'vacuum'." 

2. Show children the phoneme picture card of the vacuum.  Let's try to figure out what movement our mouth makes when we make the /v/ sound!"

3. Introduce phoneme mouth movements. "Let's say 'vacuum' together.  Ready?  'Vacuum.  Vvvacuum.  Vvvvvacuum.  Great!  In order to make the /v/ sound, we have to put our front teeth over our bottom lip.  Like this.

4. Model the mouth movement for the phoneme /v/.  Have children do the same movements.

5. Give children a gesture to remember the phoneme /v/.
- "Every time you hear the /v/ sound, I want you to pretend as though you are vacuuming up that sound.  Get your vacuums ready!"
- Repeat the word "vacuum" several times and have children pretend they are vacuuming every time they hear the /v/ phoneme, emphasizing the phoneme in the spoken word.

6. Practice new phoneme with a tongue twister.
- Point to chart paper with the tongue twister "Victor gave Val violets on Valentine's Day" on it.
- Read it once aloud.
- Have students repeat it with you again.
- "Now, this time when you read it, I want you to vacuum up the /v/s you hear!  Get your vacuums ready again!"  Read the tongue twister again, emphasizing /v/ so they can "vacuum it up".
- "This time, I'm going to break off the /v/ sound when we read the tongue twister.  Say it with me, and every time you hear /v/, vacuum it up! – 'V-ictor ga-ve V-al V-iolets on V-alentine's Day.'  Great! You are doing a v-ery good job v-acuuming up your /v/s!"

7. Phoneme recognition activity: deciphering phonemes.
"Let's be investigators again.  We are going to see if we hear the /v/ sound in different words.  I'm going to say two words, and you tell me which word you hear the /v/ sound in!"  "Do you hear /v/ in mountain or volcano?"
Car or van?
Vroom or broom?
Case or vase?
Lava or rock?

8. Writing the letter "v".  Explain to students that the /v/ sound can be written with the letter "v".  Have students get their pencils and primary paper ready.
- Model writing the letter v.  Have students write their own letters.
- "Let's write the letter v!  Put your pencils on the rooftop.  Draw a diagonal line, like you're a piece of lava sliiiding down the side of the volcano.  Make sure your line goes past the fence, and stops on the sidewalk.  Keep your pencil on the sidewalk, and slide back up to the rooftop."
- Have students continue writing the letter v as you walk around and make sure they are writing them correctly.
- Remind students that this letter, v, makes the /v/ sound, like in the words vacuum and violets.

9. Reading a book, Vin and Val, that focuses on /v/.

- Give the following book talk: "Vin and Val are friends that take a trip in a van.  They are traveling to a hut to get some sap in a vat!  When they try to take the sap in the van with them, the van gets stuck in the mud.  Oh no! What are they going to do? Let's read the book to find out."
- Read the book once to students.  Have them make sure they listen for the /v/ sound and notice the letter "v" on the pages of the book.
- Reread Vin and Val.  Have students actively participate with vacuuming gesture. "I am going to read the book again, and I want you to vacuum up your /v/s every time you hear them!"

10. Activity as a class. Have students raise their hands if they remember any /v/ words from the book Vin and Val or if they have any /v/ words of their own.
- Write these words on the board.
- Encourage students to use their "vacuuming gesture" as they say the words.
- Encourage students to write the words on their primary paper.

11. A fun song activity using the letter V. Sing the song as a class, reading the lyrics from chart paper, so that students can read the words they are singing and correlate the letter recognition to the sound it makes (phonemic awareness).  Encourage the "vacuuming gesture"!

Do You Know the Valley Man? (sung to tune of "Do You Know the Muffin Man?")

Do you know the Valley Man?
The Valley Man? The Valley Man?
Do you know the Valley Man?
Who lives right next to the hill?

Oh he loves the letter V,
The letter V, The letter V,
Oh he loves the letter V
And he shares with you and me.

Courtesy: DLTK Kids:

12. Assessment.  Children will be assessed through individual completion of worksheet.

- The worksheet will assess their writing skills associated with making the letter v successfully. It tests phonemic awareness by asking them to color the pictures that begin with the letter "v". 

-"I'm going to give you a fun activity to do.  Write in your letter V on the lines below the pictures.  Be sure to start at your rooftop, slide down the side of your volcano, past the fence, to the sidewalk, and slide back up to the rooftop again.  Then look at the pictures and read the words you have written below them.  Listen for your /v/ sound as you name the pictures.  Color the pictures that make the /v/ sound.  Not all of them do, so be careful!"


Moors, Vic (2005).  Vin and Val: decodable book 29.  Tuscon: Learning Page, Inc. 10 pages.
DLTK Kids (2006).  Letter V Alphabet Songs:
Kidzone (2004). What Begins with V?
Hamby, Courtney. Vacuuming the V's.

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