Under the Umbrella

 Decoding with short vowel u=/u/

Ashley Keel


Rationale: It is necessary for beginning readers to be able to recognize that letters map out phonemes in spoken words. Vowels are often hardest for children to learn. In this lesson, the children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words that contain the correspondence u = /u/. This correspondence will be learned by giving the children a meaningful representation and by giving them practice with both written and spoken words that contain u = /u/.


-Book: Fuzz and the Buzz

-Word cards with the following words printed on it: tug and tap, cut and cat, dog and duck, hut and hat, bun and ban, and mud and mad.

-Sentence Strip with Tongue Twister printed on it: The umpire uses unique umbrellas.

-Elkonin Letterboxes per student                                                                   
-Letter manipulatives (s, u, n, c, b, h, g, m, a, t, d, r, j, p ,i, e)                                
-Chalk or White-board erase marker                                                                
-Primary paper and pencil                                                                                 -
-Picture page with the following pictures: bug, truck, rug, brush, lock, bed, and flag.  (attached to end of lesson)

Procedure: Introduce the u = /u/ correspondence and how to spot it in written text. “Today we are going to work with the letter u in written text (hold the letter u card for the students to see). The letter u makes the /u/ sound. How does our mouth move when we say /u/? Our mouth is open and our tongue stays still. This is like the sound that a umbrella makes when someone opens it.  Everyone practice making the /u/ sound by opening your umbrella.”

To practice recognizing the letter u in written text, I will hold up two cards at a time (cards with words tug and tap, cut and cat, dog and duck, hut and hat, bun and ban, and mud and mad.). Ask students which word contains the letter u. Hold up one card and as a group say it together, then do the same with the second card. Ask the following questions: “Which word has the /u/ sound in it?” and “Can someone point the letter u in this word?” Student’s should raise hand, call on one student.

“Now I want us to practice saying our funny sentence together. The unicorn uses Uncle's underwear.

 Say together several times. Now I want us to say our tongue twister, but let’s stretch out the /u/: The uuumpire uuuses uuunique uuumbrellas.... Open your umbrella when you hear the /u/ sound.”

 Draw Elkonin letterbox on the board for teacher use during this portion of the lesson. Make sure that each student has an Elkonin letterbox with his or her own letter tiles. Ask the students to make sure that each student’s tiles on lower-case side up. We are going to practice spelling words with the /u/ sound. Look at the board and notice that I have two boxes drawn—this is for two mouth moves. Right now, I am going to spell the word pluck. The first box is for the first sound in pluck, the /p/. The second box is for the /l/. The third box makes the /u/ sound and you need to open your umbrella when making the /u/ sound. Finally, the /ck/ sound should go in the fourth box. Now you are going to practice with the following words: {3} sun, cub, hug, rush, mat; {4} drum, jump; {5} grunt. Make sure that each time the number of phonemes changes that the students are prompted to open their letterbox up by one more box. (A review word should be included.)

Write each word from the letterbox lesson on the board one at a time. Model for students how to read a word written on the board. We are going to read the word pup. Let us start with the /u/, next let’s add the /p/--/pu/. Say it together. Now let’s add the last /p/ - /pup/. Our word is pup. Call on one student to read the word, and then have the class repeat the word as a group.

The students will be placed in pairs to read Fuzz and the Buzz. Fuzz is a cub. He runs away from his hut and tugs at nuts. The nuts bop Fuzz and he yells. What will happen to Fuzz from being hit on the head by nuts? We will have to read and find out. Pass out one book per pair of students. The students will take turns reading the book to each other. I will walk around, listen, and observe each pair of students.

Write a message about what you liked or disliked and Fuzz and the Buzz. Remember that when we make the letter u that we start at the fence line and draw down to the sidewalk, curve over, and back up to the fence. Now, without lifting your pencil, you should draw a line back down to the sidewalk.  (Children should use invented spelling.)


- Students will be provided a picture page where they should circle the pictures with the /u/ sound.

- While students work on the picture page, I will call students up one at a time to assess their reading of Fuzz and the Buzz and their understanding of the correspondence u = /u/. I will be using a running record.






Murray, Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition. http://www.auburn.edu/%7Emurraba/letters.html

 Moore, Micah. Lessons for teaching decoding with short vowels.


 Gamble, Beth. Lessons for teaching decoding with short vowels.


 McCowan. Tongue Twister Alphabet. First Grade Fun with Alliteration.


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