When children have a solid grasp of letter recognition, they are able to identify letters in different contexts, based on their physical appearance. They recognize letters even when they are presented out of order or embedded within words. Surrounding children in a print-rich environment helps support their letter recognition. Provide them with experiences with books, poems, rhymes, and environmental print like signs and labels.
To teach the letter “w,” have it displayed so children can refer to it. You can hang an alphabet poster on the wall and may wish to provide children with their own alphabet chart to keep at their table or desk. Give children opportunities to sort letters with magnetic letters, letter tiles, or flashcards. (e.g., “Find all the w’s.”) Go on a letter hunt together, have them make the letter “w” with playdough, and let them experiment with letter stamps.
Teaching children verbal pathways is one strategy to support their printing. A verbal pathway provides children with a cue to help them remember which motions to make when printing a letter. Learning to print letters properly will support their speed and accuracy. Without an effective pathway, they may “draw” their letters in a haphazard and inefficient way.
For the letter “w,” teach the phrase, “Slant down, up, down, up.” This phrase can be used for both the uppercase and lowercase “w.” It is important to point out, however, that the uppercase “w” is a tall letter and the lowercase “w” is a short letter. Say this phrase as you model how to print each letter. Provide children with opportunities to trace the letters before moving on to independent practice.
Beyond pencil and paper activities, children can use tools such as fingerpaint, chalk, whiteboard markers, and sand or salt trays to practice printing. They can also use juggling scarves to make the motions needed to write the letter “w.”
To learn the sound the letter “w,” makes, help children create a list of items that begin with “w.” For example, they can associate whales, wagons, and wood with “w.” Have them fill a block letter “w” with pictures of these items. They can refer to their block letter to help them remember the correct sound.
Children can also make alphabet books, completing a new page each time a letter is learned. Each page can show the uppercase and lowercase letter, along with pictures of items that begin with the letter’s sound.
To further practice learning sounds, have children complete matching activities where they match the letter to the correct object. They can also complete activities that ask them to color the objects that begin with the letter’s sound. (e.g., Color the watermelon. Do not color the cookie.)