“Uu, uu, u” Says my muscles!

Emergent Literacy


Marybeth Miller

Rationale: This lesson will help students identify /u/, the phoneme represented by U. Students will learn to recognize /u/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (curling arms) and the letter symbol U, practice finding /u/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /u/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; picture chart with embedded letter and tongue tickler: "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up."; drawing paper and crayons; Dr. Seuss's Hop on Pop (Random House, 1974); word cards with CUP, PUP, FUN, RUN, LUCK, and MUCK; assessment worksheet identifying pictures with /u/ (URL link below).


1. Say: Words we write are like a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for. They tell us to move our mouth a certain way to say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /u/.  We spell /u/ with the letter U. [show picture-sound card]. U looks like the weights that someone uses to work out, and /u/ sounds like what you say when you lift them: /u/…/u/, /u/!

2. Let's pretend to lift those weights,  /u/, /u/, /u/. [Pantomime lifting weights by curling arms in an upward position.] Notice where your lips are? (wide open). When we say /u/, we let our mouth open with lips apart and let the air come out of our mouths.

3. Let me show you how to find /u/ in the word pluck.  I'm going to stretch pluck out very slowly and listen for /u/. . . /u/.  Ppp-ll-uuuu-ckk.  Slower: P-l-uuu-c-k. There it was! I felt my lips apart and air being pushed out. I can hear myself say /u/ in pluck.

4.  Let's try a tongue tickler [on chart]. "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up." Everybody say it three times together and curl your arms up each time you hear /u/. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /u/ at the beginning of the words as I point to them. “Uuuncle was uuupset because he was uuunable to put his uuumbrella uuup." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/U/ncle was /u/pset because he was /u/nable to put his /u/mbrella /u/p.”

5.  [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We use letter U to spell /u/. Capital U looks like arm curls but lowercase u looks like the end of a weight. Let's write the upper case letter U. Start at the fence, draw a line down to the sidewalk, then curve back up to the fence. After I put a happy face on your paper, I want you to make five more just like it.

6.  Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /u/ in bug or bag ? Stuck or stack?  Cross or crush? Stump or stomp? Gruff or grow? Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /u/ in some words. Curl your arms when you hear /u/: cow, bug, horse, umbrella, farm, slug, unhappy, scrunch.

7.  Say: "Let's look at a book, Hop on Pop. Dr. Seuss tells us about a dog. Can you guess what the dog is doing?“ (show picture).  Read page 3-5, drawing out /u/.  Tell children to curl their arms whenever they hear /u/.  Ask them what words they heard that had the /u/ sound. Then have each student write their word with invented spelling and draw a picture of it. Display their work.

8.  Show CUP and model how to decide if it is cup or cop: The U tells me to curl my arms and put my lips apart, /u/, so this word is c-uuu-p, cup.  You try some: FUN: fun or fan? RUN: run or ran? PUP: pap or pup? LUCK: luck or lack? MUCK:  mock or muck?

9.  For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to match unhappy faces to objects that start with /u/ and color the pictures that begin with U. Call students individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #8.



Bruce Murray, Brush your Teeth with F  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/sightings/murrayel.html 

Bruce Murray, Wallach and Wallach's Tongue Ticklers


Assessment Worksheet:


Dr. Seuss, Hop on Pop. 1963


 Return to Awakenings Index