Uh, Uh, I know!

Rachel Smith

Beginning Reading Design


 Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence u = /u/. In order to read, children must learn to recognize the spelling of vowels that correlate to pronunciation. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling u. They will learn a meaningful representation (child raising hand), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in  a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence u = /u/.


Materials: Graphic image of child raising hand; cover-up critter; Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child (b, u, m, p, t, g, c, l, y, y, k, n); list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read (bump, chunk, up, put, tug, cub, ugly, yuck, and blunt); decodable text: Bud the Sub, and assessment worksheet.



1. Say: In order to learn to read, we need to learn the sounds that all our vowels make. Today, we are going to learn the sound for short u. U says /u/. When I hear /u/, I think of the sound you make when you know the answer and want to be called on in class. (Show graphic). /u/ is written as u (write on board).

2. 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 my breath and my mouth is open. [Make vocal gesture for /u/.] I’ll show you first: buzz. I heard my breath and felt my mouth open. There is a short u in buzz. Now I’m going to see if it’s in run. Yep, my mouth is open. Let’s listen for the /u/ sound in some words. If you hear it, put your hand up like you are trying to answer a question in class. Is it in hug, scrunch, you, puke, put, Pumba? 

3. What if I want to spell the word bump? To spell bump in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /b//u//m//p/. I need 4 boxes. I heard that /u/ just before the /m/ so I’m going to put a u in the 2nd box. The word starts with /b/, that’s easy; I need an b. Now it gets a little tricky so I’m going to say it slowly, /b//u//m//p/. I think I heard /m/ so I’ll put a m right after the u. One more letter. /p/, /p/ /p/ Oh, that is a p. There is our word bump.

Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with chunk on the top and model reading the word.] I’m going to start with the u; that part says /u/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: ch/chu/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the next sound, /chu-n/. Now for the last sound /chun-k/. Chunk like “I ripped off a chunk of bread.”

4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with two boxes for up. What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /u/. Here’s the word: put, I put the plate on the table, put. [Allow children to spell remaining words: tug, cub, ugly, yucky and blunt.]

5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6. Say: You’ve done a great job reading words with our new spelling for /u/: u. Now we are going to read a book called Bud the Sub. This is a story about Bud who is a sub. One day he is out on a trip and hits a tug. What do you think happens to the tug? Let’s read to find out. Let’s pair up and take turns reading Bud the Sub to find out what happens to the tug. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Bud the Sub aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]

7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about /u/ being spelled by u, I want to see how good you are at figuring out a problem. On this worksheet, we have some pictures. Your job is to look in the box of word choices, and decide which u word best describes what happens in this picture. First try reading all the words in the box, then choose the word the one that matches the picture. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]



Saye, M. (2007) Uhhh, I’m confused! Reading Genie:


Freeman, Taylor (2011).Uh, I don’t know. Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/doorways/freemantbr.htm

Assessment worksheet: http://www.funfonix.com/worksheets/book1_page34.php

Bud the Sub. Carson. Educational Insights, 1990. p. 1-9

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