Title: ‰¥þUhhh‰¥Ï What?‰¥ÿ

Beginning Reading

Cortney Winton


             In order for students to become competent and self-assured readers, they must first become aware of phonemes and their uses in the everyday language.  The short vowels are tremendously significant for the young and cautious reader to understand due to their high frequency and required usage in written and spoken language. This lesson is specifically designed to help students understand and be able to use and spell words with the correspondence u = /uh/. This is accomplished through the use of a letterbox lesson, reading a short story, and writing a message.


 - Picture of a confused man to hand out to students.

- A printed out copy of the picture to display on overhead projector or smart board.

- Five piece letter boxes (one set of boxes per every two students, and a set for the teacher).

- Letter manipulative: one for the teacher and one per every two students -(u,p,s,b,d,g,r,c,l,j,n,k,l,m,t,g,e,a,h,i).

- Primary paper

- /u/ worksheet

- Pencils

- Sentence strip displaying- "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up."

- Bud the Sub (one copy per every two students).


 1. The first thing that we will do is to review a, e, i, and o sounds before learning the u sound. We will do this by writing them on the board and allowing the students to say the letter and its sound together. The next thing that I will do is to display the u on the smart board and tell the children that this is the letter u and its short vowel sound is /u/.  Then I will tell the children how to easily remember this sound. I will put a display of the picture of the confused man up on the overhead projector or smart board. Then I will say /uhhhhh/, stretching the sound out as I say it. I will then instruct the students to say it with me. We will all say it together and then I will show them the gesture for u. The gesture will be to scratch their chin and display a confused look on their face, "like you can't quite remember."  We will then practice it together as a class for several minutes until all of the children seem to be able to say it together.

 2. Next we will practice a tongue twister to help them use the phoneme. The sentence strip will be displayed on the board and then read slowly so that all of the children can hear it clearly and precisely. "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up."  After I say it aloud, the students and I will say it together twice. Then we will say it over again very slowly, stretching out the uh every time we hear it: "Uuuuncle was uuuupset because he was uuuunable to puuuut his uuuumbrella uuuup."  We will continue with the tongue twister again, but this time we will do the gesture for the uh sound while we stretch it out. Each time the students hear the uh and stretch it out, they will scratch their chins and have a confused look on their faces.

3. After the tongue twister I will help the students find the u sound in several different spoken words. The students will listen as I say two words. After they hear the words, they will have to tell me which of the two words contained the u sound in it. To help the students understand how to do this, I will first to an example to illustrate my point. The first words I will do as an example will be the following: "Do you hear the u sound in under or over?" As I ask them the question and give them the words, I will not stretch the uh sound out. The students must listen to see if they can hear it on their own. For the example, I will say the words clearly, but I will not say "Uuuunder." Then I will tell the students that I hear the u sound in uuuunder, not over. I will be sure to stretch out the u sound when giving the answer to the students. I will ask the students to say each word slowly to themselves and to look for the u sound in the following words: Up or down? Stuck or slap? Undo or redo? Bush or comb? Bunt or hand? Hug or kiss? Put or pat? Budge or bridge?

 4.  Before the students are given their sets of letter boxes and letters, I will model how to hear and then correctly spell the sounds in each word in our exercise. I will then display three boxes and tell the students that each colored box will represent a different sound I hear.  My word will be bud and I will start by saying it once and then slowly stretching it out listening to the different sounds my mouth will make as I say the word bud. I will then display the letter boxes and letters. I will start with "bbbbud," and I hear the b sound in bud so I will put the b in the first box. Now let's listen for the next sound, buuuud. There is the uh sound, which means that there is the letter u in that part of the word.  A u will be placed in the second box of the letterboxes.  Now let's listen for that last sound in budddd. That sound is the letter d, so now I will put the letter d in the third box. Last, I will remove the boxes and then read the word bud aloud to the students. They will repeat the word two times after I say it.

 5. The students will be given letterboxes and letters to share between two students.  I will read them the following words slowly, one by one, and check to see that each group of students fully understands by watching them place the different letters for each word in their letterboxes. The words will be: get, up, sub, hat, spud, club, junk, plump, cash, stunt, ship, trunk.

 6. After completing the letterbox practice, I will check for the students' understanding by seeing if they can read the words that they had just spelled out in their letterboxes.  Each word will be written on the board and the children will be encouraged to sound out each phoneme and read the word. Students will be called on randomly to pronounce a particular word up on the board.

 7. Next, the students will be given the book Bud the Sub.  A book talk will be given on the book to help the students become interested in it. Students will be in pairs and each student will take turns reading one page to another.  If they finish early, they will be encouraged to reread the book for extra practice.

 8. After they have all read the book at least one time, I will hand out the primary paper and the students be writing a creative message titled "Up or Under?" They will be encouraged to use sound words out and to spell them on their own using invented spellings. The will be required to write at least five sentences for this creative message.


             The students will be constantly and consistently evaluated during each step of the u = /uh/ lesson, the letter box lesson, reading with a partner, and the message.  Miscues will be noted and additional scaffolding will be provided as needed. A worksheet will also be provided to help the students.


- Harden, Adriane. Uhhhh... I Can't Remember What Sound the U Makes. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/connect/borders/html

- Adams, Jennifer. Jack and the Fat Cat. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/connect/borders/html

- Educational Insights. Bud the Sub. 1990.

- Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

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