Uhhh… I don’t know!

 A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Amber Allman





Rationale: To become successful readers, students must learn to identify letter symbols and the sounds that those letters make.  Short vowels are very difficult for children to learn because several short vowel phonemes sound very similar.  In this lesson, the children will learn the correspondence u=/u/.  The students will learn meaningful representation of u and have practice identifying written and spoken words containing the correspondence u=/u/. They will also read a decodable text that focuses on the correspondence u= /u/.


Materials: Graphic image of girl thinking; cover-up critter; Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smart board letters for teacher: d, u, g, c, a, b, r, n, p, j, t, m, l, b, h, e, s, p  ; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: dug, cab, run, pup, jet, gum, club, lunch, and sprung; decodable text: Bud’s Sub and assessment worksheet.



1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel words with a, like, tap, and today we are going to learn about the short vowel u.


2. When I say /u/ I think of a little girl or boy thinking about answering a question saying “Uhhhhh!” [Show graphic image]. Watch my mouth as I say /u/. Whenever you hear the /u/ sound let’s all put our finger to our head like we are thinking!


3. Now let’s try a tongue twister with the /u/ sound in it. Have a chart with the tongue twister and point to the words. “Uncle Justin was upset until he saw Bud run up with the umbrella.” Now everyone say it together. Good, this time we say it every time you /u/ I want you to stretch out the sound “Uuuuuncle Juuuustin was uuuuupset uuuuuntil he saw Buuuuud ruuuuun uuuuup with the uuuuumbrella.” Great!! Now let’s try one more thing. This time when we say the tongue twister, I want you to break off the /u/ sound from the word. “/U/ncle J/u/stin was /u/pset /u/ntil he saw B/u/d r/u/n /u/p with the /u/mbrella.”


4. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /u/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /u/ in words, I hear u make the thinking sound /u/. When I say /u/ my mouth is wide open. Watch and listen as I say some words. When you hear the /u/ sounds I want you to make the thinking face: up, uncle, tug, umbrella, and trunk


5. Each student should now have Elkonin boxes and letterbox set on their desks. Model how to use them by first folding out three Elkonin squares. Say: “I use three square because there are three sounds in tug, /t/ /u/ /g/.” Use teacher set for the entire class to see. “If I wanted to spell the word tug, I would place t in the first box because the first sound that I hear is /t/. In the next box I would place my u because I hear the /u/ sound like I am thinking. Last, I would place g in the third box because I hear /g/. Now I want you to try to spell some words.” Have students spell: dug, cab, run, pup, jet, gum. Move on to four and five phoneme words: club, shred, lunch, crisp, trunk, strap, and sprung.


6. Once students have spelled the words, I will read one or two words from the list modeling how to read a word. Then I will have them read from a list on the board as a class.  Once students have read in unison, call on individuals to read one word on the list at a time until everyone has had a turn.


7. Say: You have done a great job reading our new words for /u/. Now we are going to read a book called Bud’s Sub. This book is about a sub named Bud. The sub floats in water. But the tug hits an iceberg! Bud comes to the rescue, but I hope that no one is hurt. Let’s read to find out. Lets take turns reading Bud’s Sub to find out if anyone got hurt!


8. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about u= /u/, I want to see how well you can read Bud’s Sub. Have students read a portion of the text to you individually and score accuracy by using a running record.  While students are reading to teacher individually, other students should complete the short u worksheet.




Worksheet: https://www.etap.org/demo/langart1/lak3l1_3w5.pdf

Ashley Wood
"Uhh Don't Punch Too Hard" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/woodbr.html

Meg Griffin:
"Uhh--Thinking About the Letter U" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/realizations/griffinbr.htm

 Decodable Text. "Bud the Sub". Educational Insights. 1990.


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