Shave Your Face with V

An Emergent Literacy Lesson

by Elizabeth Smith

electric razors,grooming,razors,shavers

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 with an electric razor) 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, FAN, VOTE, ROTE, NEVER, and ALWAYS.

Procedures: 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 /f/. We spell /v/ with letter V. V looks like an electric razor, and /v/ sounds like the noise electric razors make when they are on.

2. Let's pretend to shave with our electric razors, /v/, /v/, /v/. [pretend to shave] Notice where your top teeth are? (Touching lower lip). When we say /v/, we blow air between out top teeth and lower lip.

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

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. "Vvvvirginia vvvvisited Vvvvicky and gavvve her vvvviolets and vvvegetables with vvvitamins." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "/v/ irginia /v/ isited /v/ icky and ga/v/e her /v/ iolets and /v/ egetables with /v/ itamins.”

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter V to spell /v/. Capital V looks like an electric razor. Let's write the lowercase letter v. Start just below the fence. Make your line like a slide down to the sidewalk. Then connect a line going up to the fence like a slide looks too. I want to see everybody's v. After I check your work, 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 give or gig? five or six? drive or for? live or life? view or draw? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /v/ in some words. Shave your face if you hear /v/: The, very, violet, car, drove, to, the, vegetable, store.

7. Say: "Let's look at an alphabet book. Dr. Seuss tells us about a funny creature whose name starts with V. Can you guess?" Read pages on V, drawing out /v/. Ask children if they can think of other words with /v/. Ask them to make up a silly creature name like Visious-vibber-vooter, or Vater-viper-vamp. Then have each student write their silly name with invented spelling and draw a picture of their silly creature. Display their work.

8. Show IVY and model how to decide if it is ivy or icy: The V tells me to shave, /v/, so this word is i-vvv-y, ivy. You try some: VAN: van or fan? VOTE: vote or rote? DIVE: dive or run? LOVE: love or sort? NEVER: never or always? Very or cherry?

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.


Dr. Suess’s ABC. Random House, 1963.

Brush Your Teeth with Bruce Murray

Work Sheet

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