A Beginning Reading Lesson

By: Jennifer Stuart



This lesson teaches the children about the short vowel correspondence  u = /u/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling u. They will learn a meaningful representation (someone who doesn’t know how to answer a question) 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/.


Graphic image of someone who does not know how to answer a question; cover-up critter; whiteboard or smartboard Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher u, z, f, h, t, g, m, d, p, list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: buzz, fuzz, fuss, bus, hut, huff, tug, mud, puff; decodable text: Fuzz and the Buzz, and assessment worksheet.


1.       Say: In order to become expert readers, we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Today, we are going to learn about short u. When I say /u/ I think of someone who does not know how to answer a question saying “uh” [show graphic image]. Now let’s look at the spelling of /u/ that we’ll learn today. There is only one way to spell /u/, and that is the u.


2.       Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /u/, we need to listen for it in some words. Listen to the short /u/ in this tounge tickler. “Urban undershirts aren’t ugly.” Now you try. When I listen for /u/ in words, I hear it say “uh,” and my jaw drops like this. [Make vocal gesture for /u/.] I’ll show you first: yum. I felt my jaw drop [drop jaw like a fish out of water]. There is a short u in yum. Now I’m going to see if it’s in bug. Hmm, whenever I say the word bug my jaw drops, so there must be a short u in it. Now you try. If you hear /u/ say, “uh, I dunno.” If you don’t hear /u/ say, “Uh, that’s not it.” Do you hear short /u/ is run, ran, same, sun, rose, rust? [Have children make a jaw drop motion when they hear /u/ words].


3.       What if I want to spell the word struck? “The lightning struck down the tree.” Struck means good brought the tree to the ground in this sentence. To spell struck in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /s/t/r/u/ck/. I need 5 boxes. I heard the /u/. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with crunk 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: c/r/. Next I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, u/nk/. Oh, crunk, like “That song made me feel crunk.”


4.       Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with three boxes for cub. A cub is a baby bear. “The cub was too scared to leave his mother’s side.” 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 four letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /u/. Here’s the word: rust. The iron chair is starting to rust; rust. [Allow children to spell remaining words: must, runt, bunk].


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 and reading words with our new spelling for /u/ = u. Now we are going to read a book called Fuzz and the Buzz. This is a story about a cub named Fuzz who runs from his hut to find some food. Fuzz gets into some trouble when he tries to get some honey from a bees nest. The bugs don’t like Fuzz, so they buzz at him until he runs home. Let’s continue to read and see what happens to Fuzz. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while the teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Fuzz and the Buzz aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot].


7.       Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about the way we spell /u/ = u. I want you to color the images that start with the u sound. It is your job to color and trace the u words. Try reading all of the words. I will walk around and make sure that each of the students is staying on task. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress].




Fuzz and the Buzz. Carson. Educational Insights, 1990. P.1-9.



Smith, Brittany. Let’s say AHHHHHHHH!!! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/doorways/smithbr.htm


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