Home‎ > ‎

Emergent Literacy Lesson

Wanda Wants to Surf the Wild Waves

Katie Carter

An Emergent Literacy Lesson

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


-Primary paper


-Chart with tongue twister “Wanda Wants to Surf the Wild Waves”


-Assessment worksheet

-Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House, 1963)

-Word Cards with WAKE, DIG, SAVE, WON, WICK


1. Say, “ Our written language is like a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we are going to work on identifying the mouth moves /w/. We spell /w/ with letter W. The letter W looks like an upside down M, and we will learn how to write the letter W later.

2. Say, “Now we are going to practice saying /w/ and pretend that we are riding the waves so that we can remember what sound the letter W makes. (Move your hand in a motion that looks like you are making waves) Okay, now everyone say /w/ /w/ /w/ while making waves with your hands. Great job! Let’s talk about the way our mouth moves while we are saying /w/. (Model saying /w/ in front of the class) I feel my mouth making a small circle and my tongue is staying in the bottom of my mouth. Now you make the /w/ sound and see if you feel the way your mouth is moving.”

3. Say, “Okay, now let me show you how to find /w/ in the word snow. I am going to stretch the word snow out really slowly and see if I can hear that sound and my mouth making those movements. Ss-nn-oo-ww. Sss-nnn-ooo-www. There it is! It is at the end of the word snow! I felt my mouth making a small circle and I heard the /w/ sound!”

4. Say, “Let’s try a tongue twister. (put tongue twister where students can see it) ‘Wanda wants to surf the wild waves.’ Everybody say it three times together. Now, let’s say it again—but this time, let’s stretch the /w/ at the beginning of the words. ‘Wwwanda wwwants to surf the wwwild  wwwaves.’ Great job! Now let’s say it together, but this time—break off the  /w/ sound at the beginning of the word. ‘/w/ anda /w/ ants to surf the /w/ ild /w/ aves.’ 

5. (Hand out paper and pencils to students) Say, “Now we are going to practice writing the letter W. We use this letter to represent the /w/ sound. As we have already talked about, the letter W looks like an upside down M. When we write the lowercase letter W, we start the the fence and make a slanted line to the sidewalk. From there we go back up to the fence, then down to the sidewalk and back up to the fence to finish making the letter. (Model writing the letter so that the students can understand the hand motions.) Now it’s time for you all to make some W’s! Start practicing and I will come around and check your work!” (Walk around the room and check their work, helping students when necessary.)

6. Say, “Since we have just learned how to identify the /w/ sound and write the letter W, now we are going to practice with some words. (Ask questions in which students have to identify the /w/ sound in words.) Do you hear /w/ in wet or dry? Swim or dive? Snow or ice? Great job! Okay, now I am going to say a sentence and I want you to make some waves with your hands when you hear the /w/ sound. ‘Robert was worried about the wacky windstorm that was near.’ Good job! We made a lot of waves in that sentence!”

7. Say, “Okay, now let’s look at an alphabet book together. Dr. Seuss tells us about someone with a funny name that starts with the sound /w/. Let’s read this page. (hold up book and read the W page—drawing out the       /w/ sound.) Wwwwilly Wwwwaterloo…that’s a funny name! Can you all think of silly names that begin with /w/? (Hand out paper and crayons and ask the students to come up with a silly name and to then draw their creations on the piece of paper.)

8. Say, “Okay, now we are going to do an activity where I will hold up some cards with different words on them and ask you to help me decide if it has a /w/ sound. For example, if I see the words DIG and WIG..I would think ‘Hmmm, I see a letter like an upside down M in the second word, which reminds me of riding waves…which means it has a /w/ sound!’ Now you try! (Hold up cards and say: WAKE or FAKE? SAVE or WAVE? WON or SON? WICK or PICK?) 

9. For assessment, hand out the worksheet. For this worksheet, students are to complete the partial spelling of words that begin with W and then color the illustrations. For individual assessment, call students to your desk and have them read the phonetic cue cards previously discussed.


Murray, Bruce. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/phon.html

Seuss. Dr. Seuss's ABC (Random House, 1963)



Return to the Edifications Index