Shave Your Face with V

Emergent Literacy Design

By: Emily Loyd

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

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with "Virginia visited Vicky and gave her violets and vegetables with vitamins," drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963); word cards with VAN, VASE, VAST, VIOLINE, and VEST; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /v/(URL below).


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 say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /v/. We spell /v/ with letter V. V looks like an open mouth looking up, and /v/ sounds like an electric shaver.

2. Let's pretend to shave our face, /v/, /v/, /v/. [Pantomime shaving face] Notice where your top teeth are? (Touching lower lip) When we say /v/, we blow air through our teeth while our teeth are touching the top of our lip.

3. Let me show you how to find /v/ in the word dove. I'm going to stretch dove out in super slow motion and listen for my electric razor. Do-v-e. Slower: Dddd-o-o-o-vvv-e. There it was! I felt my teeth touch the top of my lip and blow air. I can feel the electric razor /v/ in dove.

4. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Virginia visited Vicky and gave her violets and vegetables with vitamins." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time stretch the /v/ at the beginning of the words. "VVVirginia vvisited VVVicky and gave her vvviolets, vvvegetables and vvvitamins." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/v/ irginia /v/ isited /v/ icky and gave her /v/ iolets, /v/ egetables and /v/ itamins."

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter V to spell /v/. Capitol V looks like an open mouth that is looking up. Let's write the lowercase letter v. Start just below the fence. Start to make a little diagonal line that will touch the road, and then go diagonally back up to the fence. I want to see everybody's v. After I put a smile on 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/v/ in violin or fun? Sun or van? Desk or love? Valentine or drop?  Vine or branch? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /v/in some words. Shave your face with your electric razor /v/: Virginia visited Vicky and gave her violets and vegetables with vitamins.

7. "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a little girl name Vera Violet Venn who is very very very awful on her violin. After reading the page, draw out /v/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /v/. Ask them to make up a silly creature name like Villa-Vinny-Voo, or Vonny- Voony-Vang. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and a draw a picture of their silly creature. When each child reads the name they came up with everyone in the class will shave their face when they hear /v/.

8. Show VAN and model how to decide if it is van or man: The V tells me to shave my face with my electric razor, /v/, so this word is vvv-an, van. You try some: VINE: vine or mine? VET: vet or let? VACUUM: vacuum or rewind? VASE: vase or face? VERY: very or berry?

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


Byrne, B., & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (1990). Acquiring the alphabetic principle: A case for teaching recognition of phoneme identity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 805-812.

Assessment worksheet:

Emergent Literacy Design by Geri Murray:

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