Uhh, Ulsa's Umbrella is Ugly!




Beginning Reading

Sarah Dansak






In order to become skilled readers, students must first become aware of the relationships between individual spoken phonemes and their corresponding written graphemes.  This lesson will help children understand the relationship between the phoneme /u/ and the corresponding graphemes u and U.  This will be accomplished by showing them a meaningful hand gesture, a tongue-tickler using the correspondence, and by reading a whole text that requires understanding of the relationship.



-Chart Paper


-Assessment Worksheet (attached)

-List of Read-Aloud Words (Tree, Trunk, Lunch, Dinner, Peach, Plum, Run, Walk)

-Copies of Fuzz and the Buzz (Educational Insights Decodable Reader, 1990) for each student and teacher

-Poster with Tongue-Tickler: Uncle Ulmer and Ulsa have an Ugly Umbrella.

-"Uhh" picture to illustrate /u/ (attached)


-White Board

-List of Letterbox Words in Phoneme-Count Order:

run (3)

chug (3)

box (3)            (o = /o/ Correspondence Review)

chin (3)           (i = /i/ Correspondence Review)

club (4)

plug (4)

punch (4)

dust (4)

brush (4)

bunch (4)

skunk (5)

scrunch (6)

-Letterboxes with the appropriate number of boxes (for number of phonemes) for each student and teacher.

-Letter tiles for student and teacher (b, c, d, g, h, I, k, l, n, o, p, r, s, t, u)



1.Introduce Lesson

Say:  Today we are going to learn about the letter u and the special sound that it makes.  The letter u makes the sound /u/, like Uhh  (Place finger on chin as if thinking.)  Can you do that with me?  Don't forget to put your finger on your chin like you're thinking really hard!  Uhh


2.Show the Uhh  Picture to the entire class on a projector.

Say:  Here is a special picture that will help us remember the /u/ sound made by the letter u.  This man is thinking and saying uhh.  Let's try it one more time together:  Uhh; good job!


3.Display the chart paper with the Tongue-Tickler to the class

Say:  Here is a silly sentence that will help us remember the sound that u makes.  I'll say it first, and get your listening ears ready!  Uncle Ulmer and Ulsa have an Ugly Umbrella.  Now I'm going to say it again super slow, and I want you to listen closely for the /u/ sound.  Uuuncle Uuulmer and Uuulsa have an Uuugly Uuumbrella.  Did you hear the /u/ sound?  Good!


4.Make sure students can hear phoneme in spoken words.

Say:  Now you say it with me slowly, and when you hear the /u/ sound I want you to put your finger on your chin like you are thinking about something.  Are you ready?  Uuuncle Uuulmer and Uuursuuula have an Uuugly Uuumbrella.  Good job!


5.Isolate the phoneme in spoken words with the class.

Say:  Now, let's say it one more time.  This time, break off the /u/ sound when you hear it in the words.  /u/-ncle   /u/-lmer and /u/-lsa have an /u/-gly   /u/-mbrella. 


6.Check for awareness of phoneme in certain words.

Say:  I need you to put your best listening ears on!  I'm going to say some words, and I want you to tell me which ones have the /u/ sound.


Display the pairs of words on the projector as you ask each question.  Call on students individually to answer each question, and then ask the class if they agree.  Say:


Do you hear /u/ in TREE or TRUNK?

Do you hear /u/ in LUNCH or DINNER?

Do you hear /u/ in PEACH or PLUM?

Do you hear /u/ in RUN or WALK?


Good job!  I can tell everyone has on their good listening ears again.


7.Letterbox Lesson

Say:  Now that we know the letter u makes the /u/ sound, like uhh (Place finger on chin as if in deep thought), let's practice spelling some words in our letterboxes together.


Pass out letterboxes and letter tiles to each student.


Say:  Do not start working until I tell you to.  I'm going to show you how to spell the word cub using your letterboxes.


Model how to spell cub by placing one phoneme in each letterbox, displayed for the class on a projector. 

Say:  Okay, here are my three letterboxes.  I'm going to say cub really slowly so that I can hear all of the sounds:  c-c-u-u-u-b-b.  I hear /k/, /u/, and /b/ in cub.  Do you hear the /u/ sound that we just learned about?  Great!  I do too.  I know that the /u/ sound is made by the letter u, so I'll put that here in the middle.  Okay, here's a c for the beginning sound, /k/.  Now I have c-c-u-u-u, What's that last sound?  c-c-u-u-u-b-b, I hear a /b/, don't you?  Great.  We know the letter b says /b/, so that letter goes last.  c-u-b, /k/, /u/, /b/, cub!  Isn't it neat how our letterboxes help us spell words?  I listened carefully for every single wound in the world and was able to spell is correctly.  Does everyone understand how I did that?  Are there any questions?


8.Model How to Read a Tough Example Word:

Say:  Wow, everyone is doing a wonderful job spelling with their letterboxes.  Next, we are going to work on reading these words without our letterboxes.  Let me show you how to read a word that has the /u/ sound in it. 

Write lunch on the board so all students can see.

Say:  I see a u here, which I know says /u/ like uhh; does everyone see that?  Great! 

Cover up the remaining letters.

Say:  Now that I k now what this sound, /u/, is, I can look at the rest of the word.

Uncover the first letter, keeping the last three covered.

Say:  Here's an l; we know that says /L/, so now we have /L/, /u, luu; let's keep doing. 

Uncover the next letter.

Say:  The next letter is an n, which I know says  /N/, so how we have /L/, /u/, /N/; luuuunn; let's keep looking.

Uncover the last two letters.

Say:  Now I see a ch at the end of this word.  Can anyone tell me what sound ch makes?  That's right, it makes the /ch/ sound!  So now, we have /L/, /u/, /N/, /ch/, lluuuuunncccchh, lunch!  I know that word; it's lunch.  I looked at the vowel u in this word first, and I knew it made the /u/ sound.  Then I looked at all the other letters one-by-one and slowly blended their sounds together until I recognized the word!  Does anyone have a question about how I figured out what this word is?


Say:  Now, I want you to spell these words with your letterboxes:  run, chug, box, chin, club, plug, punch, dust, brush, brunch, skunk, scrunch.


Present the words one at a time, telling students the number of letterboxes to use and walking around to assess individual understanding.


9.Have Class Read Letterbox Lesson Words (after they've all been spelled)

Write the words one at a time on the white board, to be read as a class.

Say:  Everyone did an excellent job spelling all of your words.  Now, I'm going to write them on the board and I want you to read each one for me.  Are you ready?


10.Reading Whole Text:

Say:  Now we're going to read a silly book together called Fuzz and the Buzz, which will help us remember the /u/ sound made by the letter u.  This funny book is about a little bear named Fuzz, who enjoys being outside.  One of his favorite things to do outside is to shake the trees.  Fuzz forgets sometimes that there might be animals living in the trees, and this causes some trouble for him one day.  What kinds of animals do you think he will find in the trees, and what could happen to Fuzz?  We will have to read to find out.  Is everyone ready?  I'm going to give each of you a book and put you into partners.  One of you will read pages 1 to 4, and the other will read pages 5 to 8.  Raise your hand if you need help and I will come to you, but do your best to read the book by yourselves!


Pass out books to each student and walk around the room to monitor reading.




11.Assessment:  Distribute Worksheet (attached)

Say:  Here is an assignment that will help you with the /u/ sound.  Work on it by yourself, but raise your hand if you need help.

Walk around the room to monitor each student's progress.






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


 Assessment Worksheet: http://www.phonicsworld.com/shortu1.html


 Adams, M.J. (1990) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print.  Center for the study of Reading and the Reading Research and Education Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Bragg, Allison:  Beginning Reading Lesson Design.  Uhh, But My Umbrella... http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/solutions/braggbr.htm


"Uhhh" Graphic:  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/phonpics.html


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