Wailing WEEEE on a Wild Ride!

Emergent Literacy

Heather Sherrell


Rationale: This wild lesson will help young students identify /w/; the phoneme represented by W. Children will begin to learn to distinguish /w/ in spoken words by expanding their knowledge through representation (WEE!) and the W letter symbol. Finding /w/ in words will be put into practice. During phonetic cue reading, students will apply phonetic awareness with /w/ in by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.

Materials: Chart with tongue tickler, “Wally Walrus”; primary paper and pencil; drawing paper and crayons; A Fish Out of Water, by Helen Palmer Geisel (1961); word cards with WALRUS, WATERMELON, WAVE, WAVE, MOP, BUS; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /w/.


1. “Words are made up of letters, and when we talk our mouth has to move in a special way to form each letter! For our lesson today, we are going to learn about the letter W. W makes a /w/ sound, and just like all the other letters, your mouth has to move a certain way to make the /w/ sound come out! W is a pretty cool letter because it looks like an upside down M, and we can use it in words like ‘WEEE’ like when you yell on a roller coaster!”

2. “Let’s pretend we are on a roller coaster and are about to go down a big hill! We throw our hands in the air and squeal, /w/, /w/, weeeee! Notice the way your mouth is shaped when you make the /w/ sound. Your mouth forms a small circle shape!

3. Let me show you how to find /w/ in the word walk. I’m going to stretch walk out in super slow motion! Listen carefully for my mouth to make the /w/ mouth move, just like when we said ‘WEE’! Ww-a-k-k-e. Slower: Ww-w-a-a-k-k-e. There it was! I felt my mouth forming the W circle.

4. Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Wally Walrus”. Let’s say it three times together. “Wally Walrus wept for a wedge of watermelon.” Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /w/ at the beginning of the words. “Wwwally Wwwalrus wwept over a wwedge of wwatermelon.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/w/ ally /w/ alrus /w/ ept over a /w/ edge of /w/ atermelon.”

5. Students should then take out a piece of primary paper and a pencil. “To write the /w/ sound, we use the letter W. Do you notice anything familiar about the letter W? It looks like an upside down letter M! Let’s try and write the lowercase w. Start at the fence going down to the sidewalk, then bounce right back up and down and then back up again to the sidewalk! Now let’s see you do it! After I check your work with the first one, try nine more times so you can become an expert!”

6. Students should then be called on to see if they can hear the /w/ in words. “Do you hear /w/ in waffle or fan? whale or shark? water or dirt? Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /w/ in some words. Throw your roller coaster hands in the air if you hear /w/! Then, wobbly, pizza, swam, whip, white, cheese, water.

7. After the exercise, pull out the book. “Let’s look at a book. This is a story about a boy who buys a fish at a pet store, and the store owner warns him about taking care of his pet…we have to find out what he warned him about by reading! There are lots of words in the story that make the /w/ sound. Can you think of any?” Then read the book, drawing out /w/. Ask students if they can come up with a place to keep their fish when it grows that has a /w/ in it (ex: /w/ ashing machine, sno /w/, ste /w/). Then have each student write their silly location and draw a picture, which can later be hung up on a wall.

8. Show WAVE and model how to decide if it is wave or save. “The W tells me to throw my hands up on a roller coaster and wail ‘WEE’, forming a circle with my mouth, so our word is www-a-vv-e. You try some: WALL: wall or tall? WISH: wish or dish? WENT: went or dent? WARM: warm or farm?

9. To assess the students, I will pass out a worksheet. The children will practice writing the letter W, coloring pictures of /w/ examples, and then fold their paper to create a W book. I will then call students individually to read the phonemic cue words from step #8.



Pouncey, Ashlyn. Worm in a Wagon. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/pounceyael.htm


Geisel, Helen Palmer, A Fish Out of Water, 1961.

Assessment Worksheet:


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