Whirl and Swirl


Read and write words with the r-controlled vowel patterns -ir and -ur.

Lesson Plan

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Target Words:

  • whirl
  • swirl
  • twirl
  • girl
  • curl


  • Plastic or clear cup filled with water (3/4 full)
  • Food dye
  • Jar or bottle to use as a pretend blender
  • Paper doll and blender graphics (see below)
  • Sentence strips (see below) 
  • Twirling and Whirling target text
  • Make a Milkshake target text (see below)

State and model the objective 
Tell the children that they will do an activity with water and colorful food dye. They will read and write words spelled with -ir and -ur: whirl, swirl, twirl, girl, curl. Explain to the children that although some of the words are spelled with -ir and others with -ur, they make the same sound.

Practice the skill within an activity

  • Twirling girl
    • Show the children the picture of the girl with curls.
    • Help the children read the sentence strips (see below). 
    • Invite the children to take turns twirling the girl.
    • As each child twirls the girl, have the other children say, "The girl twirls!" Have each child give the command "Twirl the girl" as they pass the girl on to another child.
  • Swirl and whirl colors
    • Show the children a cup of water (3/4 full) and the food dye.
    • Explain that the dye will change the color of the water, but the water needs to be swirled. 
    • Have the children make signs that say, "Swirl!" and "Whirl!"
    • Put a few drops of food dye into the cup where it is visible to all the children.
    • Invite the children to hold up their signs and say, "Swirl!" or "Whirl!"
    • Begin stirring the food dye into the water. Invite the children to pretend to swirl the water with you.
    • Continue to swirl and whirl the water until it has changed color.
    • Repeat with other colors (optional).
  • Swirl and whirl a milkshake
    • Show the children a picture of a blender (see graphic below) and tell them that a blender is used to whirl and swirl ingredients to make a milkshake or smoothie. 
    • Have the children pretend to be a blender jar and jiggle back and forth as a milkshake whirls around.  
    • Let the children pretend to hold a blender (jar or bottle) and make whirling and swirling motions as they watch the pretend blender blade whirl and swirl the milkshake around.  

Apply the skill (Choose from the activities below)

  • Read target words in texts
    • Engage the children in reading the target text Twirling and Whirling (see below) together with the group.
    • Have the children make a list of the words spelled with -ir and -ur.
    • Read the text again fading support. Repeat with the target text Make a Milkshake (see below).
  • Write about the activity using target words/patterns
    • Let each child practice writing words from dictation: swirl, whirl, twirl, girl, curl. Then let the children write about what they did during the activity. (i.e., The girl likes to twirl. I helped the girl twirl. The water swirls. The water twirls and turns red.)

SEEL Target Texts

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Make a Milkshake

Put milk and ice cream in a blender.
Let the blender blade whirl.
Listen to the blender blade whir.
Watch the milk and ice cream swirl and twirl.
Let the milk and ice cream whirl around until they swirl into a milkshake!  

Twirling and Whirling

What things like to twirl and whirl?  
Milkshakes like to twirl and whirl.
Ballerinas like to twirl.
A fan likes to whirl.
Some girls likes to twirl.
Do you like to twirl?



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1. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.B: Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.

2. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.1.3.C: Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.