Emergent Literacy Design
April Casey
Under the Umbrella

Rationale:  When learning to read and spell, children must understand that letters stand for phonemes and the spelling of the phonemes are mapped out in words. Children must learn to recognize phonemes in spoken language. Because the variances in sound and mouth shape are not grossly obvious, short vowel sounds can be very difficult for students to detect. This lesson will help students identify u = /u/ (short u). Students will learn to recognize /u/ in spoken language by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol. They will also practice finding /u/ in spoken words.

Materials:  primary paper and pencil; chart with "Under the Umbrella is an upset umpire"; class set of cards with an umbrella on one side and X on the other; drawing paper and crayons; Bud the Sub (Educational Insights); "Under the Umbrella" picture page.

Procedures:  1.  Introduce the lesson by explaining that writing is a secret code. But, when we know the mouth moves that letters represent we can decode words to spell on our own. Today we're going to work on picking out the mouth move /u/. After some practice you'll be able to pick out /u/ in many words.

2. Ask students:  Did you ever get punched in the stomach and say /u/? That's the sound we're looking for in words. As I say sun, listen for the /u/ ·sss-u-u-u÷unn. Su-u-u·That's the punching sound we are looking for.

3. Now let's try a tongue twister (on chart). "Under the umbrella is an upset umpire." Let's all say it together. This time when we say it, stretch the /u/ at the beginning of the words.  "Uuuunder the uuuumbrella is an uuuupset uuuumpire." Well done! Let's try it one more time and this time break the /u/ off each word: "/U/ nder the /u/ mbrella is an /u/ pset /u/ mpire." Nice job!

4. (Have students take out primary paper and pencil)  The letter u represents /u/. When you see the letter u by itself if a word, it signals you to say /u/. Let's practice writing u. Start at the fence. Draw straight down to the sidewalk, curve over, and back up the fence; now, without lifting your pencil, draw straight back down to the sidewalk. I'm going to walk around and see everybody's u. After I give you a stamp, I want you to write a whole row of u's just like it.

5. Give students umbrella cards. I'm going to say some words one at a time. If you hear /u/ in a word hold up the side of the card with the umbrella. If you don't hear /u/, hold up the side with the X. Say words one at a time:  up, down, glass, cup, walk, run, under, over, work, fun.

6. Play a sound matching game. Sing to the tune of Skip to My Lou.
Who has a word that starts with /u/?
Starts with /u/ , starts with /u/?
Who has a word that starts with /u/?
Skip to my Lou, my darling!
(Call on a student who knows a word that starts with /u/. The word is the plugged back into the song.)
Up is a word that starts with /u/.
Starts with /u/, starts with /u/.
Up is a word that starts with /u/.
Skip to my Lou, my darling!

7. Read Bud the Sub aloud to students. When you hear a word with /u/, hold up the card with the umbrella again. After reading the book, have students draw a picture about the book and write a message along with it. Students may use invented spelling.

8. For assessment, pass out the picture page "Under the Umbrella". As a class, discuss what each of the pictures are then have students draw a line from the umbrella to the pictures under the umbrella that have the /u/ phoneme.

 Eldredge, J. Lloyd (1995). Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. pp 60.
Reading Genie website; www.auburn.edu/rdggenie

Click here to return to Inroads