Uhhhh...I Can't Remember What Sound the U Makes


Adriane Harden

Beginning Reading



            In order for students to become skillful and confident readers, they must first understand phonemes.  The short vowels are extremely important for the eager reader to comprehend due to their high frequency in written and spoken words.  This lesson is designed to help students with the correspondence /u/=uh.



            Picture of a confused child Image

            Smart board capable of dispaying the picture, or a printed out copy of the picture to display on overhead

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

            Letter manipulatives ( one for teacher and 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


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

            Bud the Sub (one per two students)



1.      First I will display the u on the smart board and tell the children this is the letter /u/ and it's short vowel sound is /uh/.  Then I will tell the children that an easy was to remember the sound is this (display the picture of the confused boy and say /uhhhhh/.) We will all say it together and then I will show them the gesture for u. (scratching of the chin and a confused look on the face like you can't quite remember)  We will then practice it together as a class.

2.      Another way I plan on making this phoneme memorable is to try a tongue twister.  First I will display the sentence strip and then read it slowly "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up."  The children and I will say it together once and then we will say it very slowly stretching out the u every time we hear it; "Uuuuncle was uuupset because he was uuuunable to puuuuut his uuumbrella uuuup."�  We will continue with the tongue twister but this time while stretching it out, we will do the gesture when we hear /uh/.

3.      Following the tongue twister I will help the children to find the u in spoken words.  The first word I will do as an example; do you hear /uh/ in under or over?  Uuuunder, I hear the u  in under, not over.  I will ask the children to say each word slowly to themselves to look for the u  in the following words: up or down? Sub or sand? Truck or car? Brush or floss? Trunk or door?

4.      First before the children receive their sets of letter boxes and letters, I will model to them how to correctly hear and then spell the sounds in each word.  I will display three boxes and tell the children 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 sound my mouth makes as I say bud.  I will display the letter boxes and letters and start with "�bbbbbud, I hear b in bud so I will put the b in the first box.  Buuuuud, theres the /uh/ sound, that means that'sthe letter u.  U will be placed in the second box.  Buddd, that sound is the letter d, so I will now put the letter d in the third box.  I will remove the boxes and then read bud."

5.      The children will be given their boxes 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.  Get, up, sub, hat, spud, club, junk, plump, cash, stunt, ship, trunk.

6.      Following the completion of the letter box practice I will check for their understanding by seeing if they can read the words they just spelled.  Each word will be written on the board and the children will be encouraged to sound out each phoneme and read the word. 

7.      The children will be given the book Bud the Sub.  Each group will take turns reading one page to another.  If they finish early, they will be encouraged to reread the book.

8.      After their short reading time, I will hand out primary paper and the children will be encouraged to use their own invented spellings.  The subject will be up, up, and away.



            The children will be continually assessed during each step of the /u/ lesson, the letter box lesson, reading with a partner, and the message.  I will note miscues and provide additional scaffolding as needed.



            Adams, Jennifer. Jack and the Fat Cat http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/innov/adamsbr.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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