Wa Wa Wash with W

Stephanie Howard

Emergent Literacy Design

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

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Wally was watching Wanda’s wombat.”; drawing paper and crayons; Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash By: Sarah Weeks; word cards with WAS, WALL,WRITE, WORM, SEEK, FAKE; expo marker, board, assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /w/.


Say- “Our written language is a code. The tricky part is learning what letters connect to certain mouth moves we make when we see words. Today we’re going to work on spotting the mouth move for /w/. We spell /w/ with letter W. W looks like an upside M, and /w/ sounds like “wash”.   

“Let’s pretend to be washing our hands, /w/, /w/, /w/. (Students will rub their hands together like they are washing their hands.) Notice the way your mouth is shaped when you make the /w/ sound. Your mouth forms a small circle shape to make the /w/ sound.”

“Let me show you how to find /w/ in the word wand. I’m going to stretch wand out in super slow motion and listen for my “wa” (making the /w/ mouth move). Wa-aa-n-d. Slower: Wa-aaa-nn-dd. There it was! I felt my mouth forming the W circle.”

"Let’s try a tongue twister [on chart]. “Wally was watching Wanda’s wombat.” Everyone say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /w/ at the beginning of the words. “Wwwally  wwwas wwwatching Wwwanda’s wwwombat.” Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/w/ ally /w/ as /w/ atching /w/ anda’s /w/ ombat.”


Have students take out primary paper and pencil. “We use letter W to spell /w/. Capital W looks like am upside down M letter. Let’s 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. I want to see everyone’s w. After put a check by it, I want you to make nine more just like it.”

Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: “Do you hear /w/ in warm or cold? work or fun? walk or run?” Say: “Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /w/ in some words. Make the washing your hands motion if you hear /w/. The, wobbly, whale, swam, through, the, white, water.”

Say: “Let’s look at the book, Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash. This book is about a lady who is always washing clothes. Do you think she will ever finish all of her washing? While I read, I want you to raise your hand if you hear the /w/ sound. I will then call on one of you to tell me what word you heard. Afterwards, we will recall the words that we heard in the story that start with the /w/ sound. I will then write these words on the board. (Note To Teacher: The words from the story are: wash, when, wear, wedding, which) Each of you will then be asked to write a word that has the /w/ sound. Once you have written the word, you may draw a picture of it.”

Show WAS and model how to decide if it is was or saw”The W tells me to form a circle with my mouth, so this word is www-a-ss. You try some: WALL: wall or call?  WRITE: write or fight? WORM: worm or form? SEEK: weak or seek? FAKE: fake or wake (as a non-example)”

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


Wishy Washy, Julia Drews


Weeks, Sarah. Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash. 1998.

transformations indexAssessment Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/w-begins2.htm