Beginning Reading


/u/ says Uhhhhh?
Brittany Cofer

Rationale: Letter name knowledge is a very strong predictor in beginning reading achievement. Students need to learn letter names and their sounds to be good readers. Short vowels are very difficult for children to learn because several short vowel phonemes sound very similar.  In this lesson, the children will learn the short u, u=/u/.  The students will learn ways to remember u and have practice identifying written and spoken words containing u=/u/.

- Picture of the caveman

-Letter boxes

Letter Manipulative: u, p, b, t, c, f, n, s, a, e ,k, z, z

-Primary Paper and pencils for each student

-Notecards with words from letter box

-Copies of the book Bud the Sub



 1.Introduce the u=/u/ with the picture of the caveman and explain how to find it in words.  "Today we are going to find the letter u in words that we hear, see, and even say! The letter u makes the /u/ sound. Watch how my mouth moves when I say the letter u.  Turn to your neighbor and watch their mouth as they make the /u/ sound. This is like the sound we make when we don't know what to do. When we say the /u/ sound everyone put their hands up and look confused as you say Uhhhhh just like the caveman in the picture.

2.To practice recognizing the letter u in written text, the teacher will write two words on the board. One will have the short u vowel and the other will not (like sub and bad) Ask students to help you find the word with the /u/ sound.  The teacher is going to ask aloud to the class "Do I hear /u/ in su-u-u-u-b or ba-a-a-d?” (Allow students to try to answer) Then say, I hear the uhhh /u/ sound in sub, not bad.” Do a few more of these kind of words and tell them to put their hands up and look confused like the caveman when they hear the /u/ sound.

3."Now, let's practice saying a tongue teaser together. "Ursella was unable to put up her ugly umbrella."  Say it together several times. "This time lets stretch out the /u/ sound and act confused each time you hear /u/.  "Uuuursella was uuuunable to put uuuup her uuuugly uuuumbrella .” Great job!

4. Draw the letterboxes on the board to use during this part of the lesson.  Give each student a letterbox and letter tiles. "We are going to practice spelling words with the /u/ sound.  Look at the board and see how there are three spaces for three mouth moves. Right now, I am going to spell the word fuzz.  The first box is for the first sound in fuzz, the /f/. Remember how the /u/ sound makes the sound the caveman is? The /u/ goes in the second box.  The last box is for the last sound, /zz/.”  Now, students practice with the following words: (2) - up (3)- tub, cut, fun, sat, ten. (4)-stuck.” Do the words on the board, so students can check their answers. Remember to count the sounds with the number of boxes.

5. Have the letterbox words written on note cards.  Show students the model word. "We are going to read the word tub.  Let's start with the /u/, now let's add the /t/ , this gives us the sound /tu/. Its time to add the last sound /b/ , which makes/tub/.  Now, let's say the whole word- tub." Continue doing this with all the words from the letterbox.

6.The students will read Bud and the Sub. The teacher will give a book talk before pairing students up: "This book is about a sub named Bud. He is a small sub, but one day he goes out and a tug boat is in trouble! Can Bud help the tug?”

Students will be given a page with pictures of words that have the /u/ sound and some that do not. Students should circle the pictures with the /u/ sound.  Have the children write the names of the pictures under each one after they find the /u/ sounds. 


Bud the Sub. Educational Insights, 1990.


Dobbin, Samantha


Fuzz and the Buzz. Educational Insights, 1990.