Smush that Ugly U Bug!

Beginning Reading


Lauren Odell

Rationale: To become successful readers, students must learn to identify letters and the sounds that those letters make. The children will learn the correspondence u=/u/.  The students will learn meaningful representation of the letter and have plenty of practice with written and spoken words which contain u=/u/. Students will learn to recognize the phoneme in spoken as well as written words by learning a meaningful representation (Smush That Ugly U Bug!) and the letter symbols U and u. Students will practice identifying the phonemes in spoken words and phonetic cue reading words. They will then further their understanding of this phoneme through a letterbox lesson.

Materials: Poster with tongue tickler, small toy bug for each student, Elkonin letterboxes for each student, plastic letters (d,u,g,s,h,r,b,n,k,l,c,c,t,p,m,p,z,z) for each student, document camera, word list typed out (dug, bug, shrug, dunk, slug, crunch, hunt, lunch, plump, bust), book Fuzz and Buzz to read to class,  1 copy per 2 students of decodable book The Mutt and the Bug for assessment in a small group, worksheet on /u/ sound for each student.


1. Say: Today we are going to talk about the sound /u/. You say this sound when you see something yucky--like a bug. "uuu. . .there's a yucky bug over there!" We spell this using the letter u. (give each student a small toy bug to stay on their desks).

2. Say: So we said that we use the sound /u/ when we see something yucky. Let's think about how our mouth is moving while we are saying "uuuu". My tongue is touching the bottom of my mouth and I am opening my mouth just a little bit and pushing the air out "uuu…uuu". Now try making that u sound with me. When you make the /u/ sound I want you to pretend you are squishing that yucky u bug with your finger. (Demonstrate smushing a bug with your finger and saying the /u/ sound) "uuu…uuu"

3. Say: Good work smushing those ugly U bugs now let me show you how to find the /u/ in a word. I am going to use the word umbrella . I am going to say the word and then I am going to stretch it out so that I really hear that /n/ sound. Umbrella. Uuuu-mbrella Yeah I heard my yucky U in umpire. Now let's try it together with the word umpire and funny.

4. Now, let's try a funny tongue tickler to practice our yucky U's (poster).  Ursula put up her umbrella before she went under the rain. Let's say it together. [Repeat tongue tickler together]. Now let's stretch out those ugly U's so that we can really hear them. /U/rsula put /u/p her /u/mbrella before she went /u/nder the rain.

5. Next, as a class, go over cue words to see if they are hearing the phoneme. Say:  I am going to read some words. If you hear our yucky /u/ sound anywhere in any of these words I want you to squish that yucky bug like we practiced. Show the students ugly [written out on card] and model how to decide if it has the /u/ sound or not. Uuu-gly. The /u/ sound I hear tells me to squish that yucky U.  Ready? Do you hear /u/ in up or down? In pretty or ugly? In bored or fun? In sun or cloud? In munch or eat?

6. Next, draw the Elkonin letterboxes on the board for teacher to use during this part of the lesson.  Give each student a letterbox and letter tiles.  "We are going to practice spelling words with the u sound.  Look at the board and see how there are five spaces for five mouth moves. Right now, I am going to spell the word grump.  The first box is for the first sound in grump, the /g/. The second box is for the second sound, the /r/.  The third box is for the third sound in grump the /u/. Remember how the /u/ sound makes the sound we say when we see a bug (Uh, yucky u).  The fourth sound is the /m/, and the last one is the /p/. Now, you can practice with the following words: (3)-dug, bug (4)-shrug, dunk, slug, hunt, lunch, bust (5)-crunch, plump (Call the words out and walk around making notes on the progress of each child, be sure to go over each word so that student see and hear the correct pronunciation and spelling. Make sure and tell the students when you make the change to words with more phonemes) Say the word, count the sounds, make the number of boxes on the board, and have the students tell you the sound they hear.

7. Get out the typed list of all the words just spelled in the letterbox lesson and put them on the document camera. Start with the model word and show the student how to read the words. Read all the words from the letterbox lesson. For example: "To read the word grump I am going to start with that first letter g and say gggg and then I continue to look at the next letter and I will continue to read the word... rrr-uuu-mm-p.  ggg-rrrr-uuu-mmm-p. grump I sound out each of the parts of the word to read the word 'grump'.

8. Read Fuzz and the Buzz. Say: "We are going to read the book Fuzz and the Buzz .This book is about a bear named Fuzz.  Fuzz likes to be outside and he especially likes to shake the trees.  But he forgets that there are other animals that live in the trees.  When he shakes one tree an animal gets upset and lets Fuzz know.  What kind of animal do you think this could be? We will have to read to find out!  As we listen to the story if you hear a word that has our yucky /u/ sound I want you to smush that yucky U bug". I will only pick a few pages on which to listen for the sound on so that students do not get frustrated. After reading, talk about a few of the words that you hear the /u/ sound in and write them out on the board for the students to see.

9. For assessment, students will come to the small group area in groups of 3-4 students. In this group students will read the printable and decodable book The Mutt and the Bug (teacher will have one copy per 2 students, can be printed from website listed in references.) The teacher should have the students read at least one page aloud noting miscues in order to keep a running record of students' progress. Once she has heard each student read aloud alone, the teacher may have the students buddy read the rest of the book listening as the groups read and continuing to note miscues. As the teacher works with small groups other students may be further assessed using a worksheet of short /u/ words.


 Julia Lightsey, Uh, Squish that Yucky U Bug!

The Mutt and the Bug. Online, printable, decodable books.


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