Letter W Sound

Introduction

The letter /w/ is another sound near the end of the phonics and alphabet letters, as it is not used as often in English. However, students generally are still able to pronounce the letter w sound without too much trouble. Many children can say they need to go “wee wee” at an early age, and some can even ask for water. Get your lips ready to say the /w/ sound!

Phonics Pronunciation of the Letter W Sound

The /w/ sound is usually taught as blowing with the wind, as the /wh/ sound. To make the /w/ sound, make a tight circle with your mouth with the blowing action. In this position, make a sound while you hold the back of the tongue near the roof of your mouth at the back. The /w/ sound is considered a semi-vowel sound, which means it sounds and acts like a vowel, but is actually a consonant. While many students learn the /w/ sound later in studying phonics, they are still able to pronounce the sound at a younger age.

Take more time to practice this sound, as students may get the /w/ and /r/ sound mixed up, as in the case with “wabbit” for “rabbit” or “wight” for “right”. It’s important for them to understand the positioning of the tongue, and how to make the sound. You can repeat the /w/ sound slowly for them, and exaggerate the movement of your mouth. You can also see our page for the /r/ sound to better help the students understand how it’s made.

After the students can say and repeat the /w/ sound well, you can move on at add the different vowel variations with them, as in wa,wa,wa, wee,wee,wee, and woo,woo,woo. Once they can blend the /w/ sound and various vowels, introduce the three letter CVC words for them to blend.

Watch this video for help with the letter w sound!

Visual hints

As the /w/ sound is more about the visual positioning of your mouth, show them some actions to help them with the sound. When saying the /w/ sound, it looks very similar to when you are going to kiss someone. You can act as if you are about to kiss someone, with a tight circle shape with your mouth. After this you can start saying the w-w-w sound with them.

You can also act like the wind, and blow air with your mouth in a circle. You can exaggerate this movement to show students how to make the /w/ sound.

Handwriting Help with letter /w/

The /w/ letter is usually easier for students to write, especially because it is only straight lines, and the students should be comfortable with writing by the time they study /w/. However, if your student is still struggling to write /w/, it may be because of their pencil grip or underdeveloped muscles in their hands. Usually younger students will have incorrect pencil grips as they muscles are not yet developed in their hands.

You can try some exercises to first practice the /w/ shape, such as tracing either with their fingers or with a pencil. You can also find some worksheets that have a long zig-zag line, for the students to practice writing this shape continuously. Buy some phonic books and handwriting workbooks to help you improve.

Other than this, try having the students strengthen their muscles by crumpling paper, squeezing a sponge or playing with play-doh. You could even have them cut paper with a scissors, under close supervision. These activities will help them develop their hand muscles.

Activity hints

This can be a fun sound when practicing for students. You can show the students various pictures of land and water animals, and have them pick which one swims in the water. Whales and walruses are two animals that live in the water and start with /w/. You can also have the students blow air like the wind or try to whistle! This will make the students form the right motion with their lips to make the /w/ sound. 

Letter /w/ Blending

The letter /w/ can be a sound that most students will be able to pronounce and remember well. For those who do struggle, take more time to repeat the /w/ sound and practice techniques on how to make the sound with your mouth. After the students can pronounce the /w/ sound well, you can move on with the vowel variations as in wa,wa,wa, wee,wee,wee and woo,woo,woo. Once the students can blend these sounds well, introduce the three letter CVC words to them as in w-e-t, w-i-n, w-e-b. There are a fair amount of /w/ words in the English language, so you should be able to practice this sound with the /w/ words everyday!

Once the students can start to blend the three letter CVC words, it’s also important to introduce to them the /wh/ sound and words, as this is the same sound. You can start them off with easy /wh/ words as in wh-i-p, wh-i-g and wh-a-t. Eventually they will learn that the /w/ and /wh/ sound are the same, and will not pronounce the /wh/ as two seperate sounds. Of course take more time to review this and the /w/ sound if the students still cannot understand or blend these words.

If your child still struggles with this sound, be sure to checkout some ABC books to help them out.

Everyday English

After the students can say the /w/ sounds and blend the words, you can move on with introducing them some /w/ words. Be sure they are able to blend the simple words well, and are also able to blend nearly independently.

There are many animals that start with the /w/ sound, such as whale, walrus, and worm. You can pretend to be a whale with a puff of air!

Many everyday objects and things start with /w/, like water, wind and watch. You can ask your students if they drink a lot of water everyday.

Popular songs use objects that start with /wh/, like Wheels on the Bus. Sing this song together for fun and to practice the /w/ sound.

Letter /w/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /w/, it’s good to introduce basic sentences to the children to read. These sentences are meant to be basic for students learning the alphabet letters and phonics as their second language.

Here are some short sentences you can read together with the students.

A wig.

A wet wig.

What (wut) do I win?

I win a watch!

It’s important your students practice reading short sentences, so they gain the confidence and can practice their blending skills. Therefore, encourage your students to read these sentences to improve their phonics and blending with the letter /w/ !

Letter W tongue twisters

The letter /w/ can be fun to say in sentences and can get you all mixed up with some tongue twisters. Get your mouth ready to say some funny /w/ sentences!

Whether the weather be fine 

Or whether the weather be not; 

Whether the weather be cold 

Or whether the weather be hot; 

We’ll weather the weather 

Whatever the weather, 

Whether we like it or not.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck

If a woodchuck could chuck wood? 

If two witches watched two watches, which witch would watch which watch?

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