“Ugh!! Punch in the Stomach”

By Betsy Thomas


Rationale: Children need explicit, systematic phonics instruction in order to successfully learn to read. It is necessary for beginning readers to be able to recognize that letters map out phonemes in spoken words. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound in a spoken word. 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/.


-         Copy of tongue twister for everyone (Uncle was upset because the umbrella went up)

-         Copy of the book Bud the Sub

-         Picture of an umbrella

-         Picture of a submarine

-         Picture of a person punching something.

-         Crayons for each student.

-         Poster with tongue twister written on it. (Uncle was upset because the umbrella went up)

-         List of words for game “Can you hear it?” (words you will need: tuck, dog, bat, but, fun, tag, bug, pat, mat, and run)

-         Letterboxes for each student and letter tiles for each student

-         Draw large Elkonin on the chalkboard/whiteboard for teacher to use as example at the beginning of the letterbox lesson. (either chalk or whiteboard markers)


          -“Today we are going to learn the short “u” sound. Can everyone say /u/. How does our mouth move when we say /u/? Our mouth is open and our tongue stays still. When I think of that sound I think of someone punching someone in the stomach. Let’s all say that sound and pretend to punch ourselves in the stomach. Please don’t punch your neighbor or anything else around you.

          -“Now let’s try a tongue twister with the /u/ sound. Say “Uncle was upset because the umbrella went up.” (put up poster with this written on it.) Good! Now let’s punch ourselves in the stomach the air every time we hear the /u/ sound in a word. Good! Now let’s drag out the /u/ sound in every word! Great job!!

          -Now we are going to play a game called “can you hear it.” To play this you have to be very quiet and listen. I am going to call out two words and I want you to tell me which word you hear the /u/ sound. You will have to listen very closely. Are you ready?

                             tuck       or       dog

                             bat         or      but

                             fun         or      tag

                             bug        or      pat

                             mat        or       run

          -Now we are going to do our letterbox lesson. Have all students an Elkonin letterbox with his or her own letter tiles. Ask the students to make sure that their tiles are lower-case side up. We are going to practice spelling words with the /u/ sound. Look at the board and notice that I have three boxes drawn—this is for three mouth moves. Right now, I am going to spell the word cup. The first box is for the first sound in cup, the /c/. The second box is for the /u/, like the sound of someone getting punched in the stomach, and the third box is for the /p/. Now you are going to practice with the following words: (3)-cub, luck, pug, cat, den  (4)-slum, hump, grub, sent  (5)-plunk, strut. The students will first spell the words, then I will do some more words on the board and let the students read the words to me.  Make sure that each time the number of phonemes changes that the students are prompted to open their letterbox up by one more box. Review words have also been included in this lesson to review the short vowel correspondences already learned.


          -Now we are going to read Bud the Sub. The students will be placed in pairs and read as a group. Book talk: Bud is a submarine. He is very small but he can do so many things. One day a tub boat is out and wrecks and it is up to Bud the sub to save him. I wonder what happens?

          -Now we will color the picture of the umbrella and submarine.


Assessment: Hand out worksheets containing pictures that have the u correspondence.  “I want you to look at each picture and decide if the word contains our /u/ sound in it.  When you find a picture with that sound, color it.”  You might even encourage students to spell the word by writing it under the picture.  Walk around and check students as they do the worksheet.




1.Cushman, Sheila. Bud the Sub. Educational Insights: Carson, CA, 1990.

2.Up, up, up, and Away by Beth Gamble


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