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/w/ Went the Washer

/w/ Went the Washer

Emergent Literacy

 Lana Cooper


Rationale: Phoneme awareness is the number one predictor of reading ability. Therefore, it is crucial that students become aware of phonemes. This lesson will help children identify the phoneme /w/, which corresponds to the grapheme w. Students will learn to recognize the phoneme /w/ in spoken words by learning a memorable movement and the letter representation, working with tongue ticklers, practicing finding /w/ in words, and applying phoneme awareness of /w/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.



·      Chart with “Wemberly watched the wishy washer”

·      Primary paper and pencils

·      Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2000)

·      Word cards: wall, win, wed, wore

·      Crayons and construction paper

·      Kidzone worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/images-changed/kindergarten/w-as-begins1.gif



1.    Begin by saying, “Learning what sound each letter makes can be tricky, so today we are going to connect a new sound with a letter! Our sound for today is /w/ which sounds like the water in a washing machine going around and around. The sound /w/ is represented by the letter w. To help us connect this letter and sound, we are going to practice spotting the mouth movement /w/ and spelling /w/ with the letter w.

2.    Ask students, “Has anyone helped their mom or dad wash clothes and noticed the /w/ sound the washing machine makes?” [Allow for response]. “The washing machine makes the same /w/ sound as the letter w. Let’s twist our waist and move like a washing machine while making the /w/ sound, /w/ /w/ /w/. [Twist waist back and forth]. Notice that when we say /w/, our lips form a circle and we blow air out.”

3.    Say, “Now that we know how to make the sound /w/, let me show you how to find the /w/ sound in the word twist. I am going to stretch out the word to see if I can hear a washing machine. Tw-tw-i-s-t. Yes, I heard the washing machine /w/ in twist! I also felt my lips make a circle!”

4.    Say, “Now, let’s try a tongue tickler together!” [On chart]. “Wemberly watched the wishy washer. Let’s say it together and stretch out the /w/ at the beginning of the words like this: “Wwwemberly wwwatched the wwwishy wwwasher. Now let’s try it together. Don’t forget to twist like a washer when you stretch out the sound!” [Stretch out tongue tickler together]. “Let’s try something different this time. Instead of stretching out the sound, let’s break the /w/ sound off like this: /w/emberly /w/atched the /w/ishy /w/asher.” [Break off /w/ sound together].

5.    Distribute primary paper and pencils. Say, “We represent the /w/ sound with the letter w. Let’s use our paper and pencil to practice writing the letter w. To write a capital W, begin your pencil at the roof and slant down to the sidewalk, up to the fence, down to the sidewalk, then back up to the roof. After I have looked at your capital W I want you to make five more just like that!” [Allow time for students to complete writing capital W]. “To write a lowercase w we are going to start our pencil at the fence and slide it down to the sidewalk. Then, climb halfway back up to the fence, slide back down the sidewalk, then all the way back up to the fence. After I have looked at your w, I want you to make ten more!”

6.    Ask students, “Do you hear the washing machine /w/ in water or ice? In word or letter? In world or planet?” Have students discuss how they detected the /w/ sound in each word. “Now, let’s practice twisting like a washing machine when we hear /w/ in a word: wonder, well, phone, Wednesday, watch, table, wait, wicked, chair."

7.    Introduce the book Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes by saying, ”Wemberly Worried is a book about a little mouse who worries about everything! Now, Wemberly is about to face her biggest worry of all…beginning nursery school! How will Wemberly handle her worrying? How will her first day of nursery school go? Let’s read to find out!” Read the story and make sure to implement talk before you turn after reading each page. Following the first reading, have students stand as you reread the story and instruct them by saying, “As I read aloud, I want you to twist like a washing machine every time you hear the washing machine /w/.” Following the rereading of the story, have students illustrate a time when they were worried. Below their illustrations, instruct students to write a message about the illustration using invented spelling

8.    Show the word WALL. Ask students if this is wall or ball. Continue the same process with the following words: WIN: win or tin? WED: red or wed? WORE: tore or wore?

9.    For assessment, the students will be given a worksheet that requires them to draw a line to help the three walruses find the items that begin with the sound of w. As students work individually to complete the worksheet, call students back one at a time to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



“Beginning Consonants Worksheets: What Begins with W?” Worksheet. http://www.kidzone.ws/images-changed/kindergarten/w-as-begins1.gif

 Henkes, K. Wemberly Worried. Greenwillow Publishing: 2000.

 Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website. “Teaching Letter Recognition.” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/letters.html

 Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website. “Making Friends with Phonemes.” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/phon.html

Riel, Jessica. Reading Genie Website. “Laundry Day with Letter W.” https://sites.google.com/site/rielsample/ctrd-lesson-designs

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