Umbrella Fun

By: Amy Homan

Beginning Reading

Rationale:  It is critical for beginning readers to clearly understand the alphabetic principle.  Vowels are the hardest concept to learn, therefore a lot of time and practice is necessary.  This lesson is designed to have the children recognize, spell, and read words that contain the correspondence u=/u/.  The students will learn meaningful representation of the letter and have plenty of practice with written and spoken words which contain u=/u/.  

-Primary paper and pencils
-Poster with "Under the Umbrella Umma sits on a rug."
-Letterboxes for each student
-Plastic letters for each child: h, u, f, z, z, l, g, c, b, m, o, s, n, m, a, t, p, i, g, p, k
-Cards with words on them: fuzz, mom, cat, hug, hum, sun, cub, pig, up
-Chalk and chalkboard
-Fuzz and the Buzz (Educational Insights)
-Picture page: rug, bee, sub, drum, car, duck


1. Introduce the u=/u/ correspondence and explain how to find it in words.  "Today we are going to find the letter u (write u on the board).  The letter u makes the /u/ sound. Watch how my mouth moves when I say the letter u.  Now, you watch each other say the sound and see the mouth moves made. (Have the students do this for about one minute.)  This is like the sound we make when we see our balloons going u-u-up in the sky.  When we say the /u/ sound everyone point uup uup uup like we are watching our balloons drift away.

2. To practice recognizing letter u in written text, I will hold up two cards at a time. (One with a u word and one with a different vowel, ex: cat and fuzz.) Model how to find the word with the /u/ sound.  "I head /u/  in fu-u-uzz, not ca-a-at.  I found the /u/ in fuzz (point up).  Now you try!"  Ask the studetns which word contains the /u/ sound.  Tell them to point up when they hear the /u/ sound in the words.

3. "Now, lets practice saying a funny tongue twister together.  Under the umbrella Umma sits on a rug."  Say it together several times. "This time lets stretch out the /u/ sound and point up when we hear the sound.  Uuunder the uuumbrella Uuuma sits on a ruuug."

4. Draw the Elkonin letterboxes on the board for teacher use during this part of the lesson.  Give each student a letterbox and letter tiles.  Tell the students to turn the letterbox tiles on the lower case side.  "We are going to practice spelling words with the /u/ sound.  Look at the board and see how there are two spaces for two mouth moves. Right now, I am going to spell the word up.  The first box  is for the first sound in up, the /u/.  Remember how the /u/ sound makes a tugboat horn sound. The second box is for the second sound, the /p/.  Now, you can practice with the following words: (3)-cub, sun, mom, pig, cat, hum, hug.  (4)-fuzz. (5)-plunk."  Have the students do it at their desks at the same speed you do it on the board.  Say the word, count the sounds, make the number of boxes on the board, and have the students tell you the sound they hear.

5. Get out the letterbox words that are written on cards.  Show students the model word. "We are going to read the word cub.  Lets start with the /u/, now lets add the /c/ - /cu/. Say it together.  Its time to add the last sound /p/ - /cup/.  Now, lets say the whole word cup." Continue doing this with all the words from the letterbox.

6. The students will be placed in pairs to read Fuzz and the Buzz.  Book talk before splitting the class up: "One day Fuzz the cub leaves his mom to find nuts on trees.  He finds them but also some scary bees.  The lees buzz around Fuzz.  Lets read the book to find out if Fuzz gets away safely."  Give one book to each student.  Listen and walk around while the students read the book to each other.

7. Say to students: "Write a message about your favorite animal that lives in the woods.  Try to write some words in your message that have a u in them.  Remember that when we make the letter u that we start at the fence and draw down to the sidewalk, curve over, and back up to the fence.  Now, without lifting your pencil, you should draw a straight line back down to the sidewalk."

8.  Assessment: Give the students a picture page where they should circle the pictures with the /u/ sound.  While they are working on the picture page ask for individual students to come up and read their messages to you.  This will let you know if they truly understood the correspondence.


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

Jackson, Maria. Balloons Go Up Up Up in the Sky.

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