“Uhhh!”  Says the Whining Child

Carrie Smith
Beginning Reading

 Whining Baby

Rationale:  Before children can learn to read words, they need to understand that the graphemes (letters and letter combinations) that make up words signify different vocal gestures (phonemes), and that when made together, these gestures produce complete spoken words.  Children can come to understand this notion by being the recipients of systematic and explicit phonics instruction.  Teaching the correspondences of the short vowels is a good starting place for phonics instruction.  They are often the hardest to master, but some of the most widespread correspondences (found in many words).   In this lesson, students will learn to read and spell words with the u=/u/ correspondence by practicing placing letters from words that contain the /u/ correspondence in Elkonin letter boxes, representing all the sounds in each word.


Materials:  For each student: 6 box Elkonin letter boxes made from card stock; plastic bag filled with the letters f, u, n, t, g, m, c, l, b, d, s, t, a, p; assessment worksheets.  For each pair of students: copy of Bud the Sub.  For the teacher: 6 large Elkonin letter boxes made from card stock; roll of Velcro; large card stock squares with the letters f, u, n, t, g, m, c, l, b, d, s, t, a, p printed on them; poster with picture of child with pouty face saying /u/ on it; tongue-twister chart (“Uncle’s umbrella flew up, up, and away”); copy of Bud the Sub; assessment worksheet.


Procedures:  1. Begin lesson by explaining to students that they will now use some of the “clues” they have figured out to read and spell words with the /u/ sound.  “This is the sound we make when we are whining to our parents.  We hear it in many words, like in the word tub.  Today, we are going to spell and read some words with this sound.”


2. Display poster that has picture of child with pouty face saying /u/ on it.  Tell students: “As I said, we make the /u/ sound when we are whining to our parents.  So, let’s all put on our pouty faces and make that sound.  Ready? (In unison) /u/.  Very good.”


3. “Now, let’s try a tongue twister with the /u/ sound.  (Put tongue twister chart on the board)  Repeat after me: ‘Uncle’s umbrella flew up, up, and away.’”  Point to chart as children repeat. 


4. “Okay, now let’s spell some words with /u/.  (Display large letter boxes on board and use Velcro to attach letters to the board).  How about the word bus?  Bus.  I hear /b/, so that’s a b (place b in first letter box).  Buuuuus.  Next, I hear /u/, like the sound of a whiner (place u in the second letter box).  Bussssssss.  Finally, I hear the /s/ sound in the word bus.  That’s an s (place s in the final letter box).”


5. Pass out to each student the letter boxes and plastic bags filled with the letters.  Tell them that they “are now going to spell some words with /u/.”  Explain that “each box stands for a sound and that they are going to place each sound they hear in a word in a box.  Listen as I ask you to spell some words.  Okay, let’s spell the word tub. Jimmy splashed around in the tub.  (Walk around and observe students as they are using their letter boxes.  Provide scaffolding where needed).”  Repeat with the words fun, nut, gum, bat, club, dust, stamp, stump.”


6.  “Now, I am going to spell some words on the board and I want you to read them after I put them all up.  Let me show you.”  Put bus on the board.  Model how to say it: “If I cover up the b and s, I see /u/ in the middle.  When I uncover the s, I see /u/, /s/--/u//s/.  Now, I'll add the first letter: /b/,/u//s/.  Oh, bus.  Okay, your turn.”  Put up fun, gum, nut, bat, dust, club, stump, and stamp.


7.  Have students pair up.  Give book talk on Bud the Sub.  “One day, a boat gets hit.  But the sub has to save it.  Will he get the tug out in time?  To find out, you’ll have to read Bud the Sub.”  Pass out to each pair a copy of Bud the Sub.  Have them read to their partner.


8. Assessment: Pass out worksheet.  Tell students, “I am going to say two words and you are going to circle the one that you hear /u/ in.  Do you hear /u/ in mut or mat?”  Continue with the other 4 items.  Collect from students when they are finished.



Cushman, Sheila. Bud the Sub. Educational Insights: Carson, CA, 1990.

Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 644-650.

Barton, Sarah.  "Oooohh My!"  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/constr/bartonbr.html

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