Uhhhh…What's the Answer?

Carmen Harper

Beginning Reading Lesson

Rationale: This beginning reading lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence u=/u/. In order for students become successful readers, it is important that students become phonemically aware. In this lesson, students will learn to recognize, read, and spell words with the short /u/ sound. They will do this through the use of tongue twisters, a picture cue, and by practicing reading these words in a decodable book.


Picture of thinking boy

Cover up critter for each child

Chart with Tongue Twister: "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up"

Plastic letter tiles for each student -Letters  e, d, r, u, s, h, l, c, k, b, a, t, g, p, n

Letter boxes for each student:


Assessment worksheet


1.     Say: Good Morning Boys and Girls! Today we are going to keep practicing our secret code that tells us how to pronounce words in our tricky language. Today we are going to work on the short vowel u. We have learned the short vowels a, e, and i, so today we are going to work on short u. Short u says /u/. What does this sound make you think of? When I hear it, I think of what I say when I'm thinking about the answer to a question or when I don't know the answer to a question. If this ever happens, sometimes I will say uhhhh. Everyone understand? Great! Now let's look at the picture that will remind us of what short u says (show picture cue). Let's see if everyone can say that sound and act like they are thinking. (Show children gesture). Great Job! 

2.     Say: Now let's listen to the short u sound in some words. When I say /u/ my mouth is open and my tongue is down. Everyone say it with me: /uuuuuu/. Excellent! Let's practice our tongue twister! Ready? Listen to me say it first: ( teacher repeats tongue twister while pointing to words on chart with pointer). Okay now let's say it together slowly: Uncle was Upset because he was Unable to put his Umbrella Up.  Great! Let's stretch the /u/ sound out this time! Uuuuncle was Uuupset because he was Uuunable to put his Uuunbrella Uuuup.  Wow! Great job!

3.     Say: Now we are going to look at different words and see if we can find the /u/ sound. Here's an example: I don't hear the /u/ sound in the word tube. It doesn't have the uuuuu sound. But, I do hear the /u/ sound in the word bug. Do you hear that sound? Buuuuuug.. Do you hear it? Great! Now it's your turn! I am going to give you two words, and I want you to tell me which word has the /u/ sound in it.  When you hear the /u/ sound, put your finger on your head like you are thinking! If you don't hear that sound, give me a thumbs down.  Ready? Here we go!  Rug?  Rig?  Plum? Plume? Dug? Dig? Great job boys and girls! You all did great showing me when you heard the /u/ sound!

4.     Letterboxes will now be drawn on the board/overhead projector to be used during this part of the lesson. Each child will also receive letter boxes of their own. Letters will also be passed out to each student. Say: Now we are going to use our letter boxes and tiles to spell out words with the /u/ sound, and a couple of review words. I will do an example for you first. I want to spell the word tug, which has three sounds, or three mouth movements in it.  That is why I have three boxes drawn. Listen: ttt-uuuuu-g. TUG.  The first sound is /t/, so that will go it the first box. The second sound is that /u/ sound, so that will go in the second box. The third and last sound in our word is /g/, so that will go in our third box (teacher is demonstrating on overhead projector) Let's put together what we have in our boxes. Ttttuuuug. TUG. Everyone understand? Great!

5.     After modeling how to complete a letterbox, we will complete a group lesson with the whole class containing many words with 2, 3, and 4 phoneme words. Review Words will also be included.


2 phonemes


Ed, up


3 phonemes


Rush,  luck, bat, dug


4 phonemes


Plug, chunk, plum

Letters needed: e, d, r, u, s, h, l, c, k, b, a, t, g, p, n, m

6.      Model for the children how to read the words they have spelled first. Say: Now I am going to show you how to read the words that you spelled. Let's start with luck. The first letter, L, of the word Luck says lllll. The second letter, the vowel u, says the uhhhh sound we've been talking about. Lastly, the c and the k in the word luck say the /k/ sound. If I put those sounds together I have the word Lllluuuccckkk. Luck. Everyone understand?  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.]

7.     Say: You have all done such a great job with short u, so we are going to read our book to get even more practice.  We are going to read a book called Fuzz and the Buzz.  This book is about a cub who runs and runs all day. He goes to pick nuts and bugs start buzzing around him. We have to read and find out what will happen to Buzz!  Everyone turn to your partner and take turns reading each page to each other to find out what happens. If you finish the book earlier than everyone else, read it again for extra practice!  I will be walking around the room to help each one of you. (After, the class will read the text together slowly).

8.     To assess the students I will have each student complete a worksheet on short u.  The students will be instructed to unscramble the words with the help of the picture cues and spell the words with short u correctly. This worksheet will be turned in after the lesson. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/alphabet/unscramble/shortu/


Fuzz and Buzz. Educational Insights. 1990.

Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie

Lightsey, Julia. Uh, Squish that Yucky U Bug. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/lightseybr.htm


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