Beginning Literacy Design

Uh∑I Don't Know

Becky Short



Rationale: Children have to understand that letters map out phonemes in spoken words.  Those letters are combined to form words.  Short vowels are usually hardest to learn for children.  In this lesson, children will learn the correspondence u=/u/.  They will be given a sound representation to help them identify /u/ in spoken words, and together will review written representations to identify u in written words.


Materials: Chalkboard, chalk, or whiteboard, dry erase pen, primary paper and pencil for each child, the book Fuzz and the Buzz (Educational Insights) for every child, Elkonin boxes and the letters u,p,c,b,h,g,n,t,r,o,s,f,e,l,p,d, and m and a picture page that contains pictures of the following: a bug, car, drum, teddy bear, sun, children hugging, tree, dog.



1.      Begin the lesson by saying: Written words are a secret code of spoken words.  Today we are going to learn the secret code for the letter u.  After we learn the secret code, it will become easier to hear it in spoken words and see it in written words. 

2.      Here is the first example∑teacher writes the word bug on the board.  Say: This letter u in the middle tells us to say /u/.  It makes the sound that I make when I don‚t know the answer to someone‚s question.  I say uh∑..  Now you say it with me. Uh.

3.      Say: I will write a funny saying on the board.  I will read it to you and then I want you to read it with me.  Write Ugly Uncle Ud, gets in the tub. Rub a dub dub.  Read it to children.  Have them read it with you two more times.  As you and children read it, point out the u in each word.  Now say: We will read it one more time.  This time I want you to stretch out the /u/ sound.

4.      Model how to spell words in letterboxs.  Say the word sun and then write it on the board (spacing out the letters).  Say each phoneme separately and then draw letterboxes around each sound. Say:  The first letter is s.  Model the /s/ sound and have the children repeat it.  The second letter is u.  Model the /u/ sound and have children repeat it.  The last letter is n.  It makes a /n/ sound.  Have children repeat after you.  Ask the children: Can you spell sun on your letterboxes?  Wait for each child to finish and then check for accuracy.  Next ask them to practice these words in their letterboxes (cub, hug, cab, nut, run, hot, fun cab, bug).  Say: Now stretch out your letterboxes to four.  Try and spell help and drum.

5.      Tell the children to partner up and read to each other the book Fuzz and the Buzz..  Before they read, introduce the book in a brief book talk. „This book is about a bear who loves honey, but this bear, while getting honey one day, gets into some trouble.  To find out what happens to Fuzz you and your partner will have to read Fuzz and the Buzz.š  One child will read the first half and the second child will read the second half.

6.      Next will follow a writing activity.  Ask them, „Write about your favorite bug.  Remember that we write a u like this∑Start at the fence, jump down onto the ground run and jump back up onto the fence and then jump back down once again (model as you explain it) Make sure each student has lined paper.

7.      To assess phoneme awareness, hand out a picture page for each of the students.  Ask them to draw a circle around the pictures that have the /u/ sounds.

8.      Each student will take a turn throughout the course of the day reading a portion of the book to the teacher.  The teacher will note the miscues in a running record.




Aldrich, Autumn. Uh, Uh, Oh, It‚s U!. Fall 2003.


Cushman, Sheila. Fuzz and the Buzz. Educational Insights. Carson, CA: 1990.


Click here to return to Guidelines