Uhh I don’t know!


Beginning Reader Design
by Michelle Mazza


To become successful readers, students must learn to identify letter symbols and the sounds that those letters make.  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 correspondence u=/u/.  The students will learn meaningful representation of u and have practice identifying written and spoken words containing the correspondence u=/u/.


-Elokin Boxes

-Letter Manipulatives:

-Primary Paper and pencils for each student

-Index cards with words containing u=/u/ and other short vowels on them: (bug, club, sun, crust, jump, big, twig, dent, flag)

-Copies of Bud the Sub for each student

-Cards with pictures of items containing u=/u/ and others that do not: (bug, ant, trunk, door, sun, moon, bump, hole etc.)



 1. Introduce the u=/u/ correspondence and explain how to find it in words.  "Today we are going to find the letter u in words that we hear and words that we seen. The letter u makes the /u/ sound. Watch how my mouth moves when I say the letter u.  Now, you watch each other say the sound and see the mouth moves made. This is like the sound we make when we don’t know what to say.  When we say the /u/ sound everyone put their hand on their chin and look confused. Uhhhhh?

2. To practice recognizing letter u in written text, I will hold up two cards at a time. (One with a u word and one with a different vowel, ex: dug and bin.) Model how to find the word with the /u/ sound.  I’m going to ask myself “do I hear /u/ in su-u-u-u-n or mo-o-o-n?  I hear the uhhh /u/ sound in sun, not moon.  Now its your turn!"  Ask the students which word contains the /u/ sound.  Tell them to put their hand on their chin and look confused when they hear the /u/ sound in the words.

3. "Now, let’s practice saying a funny tongue twister together. “Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up.”  Say it together several times. "This time lets stretch out the /u/ sound and act confused each time you hear /u/.  “Uuuuncle was uuuupset becauuuuse he was uuuunable to put his uuuumbrella uuuup.”

4. Draw the Elkonin letterboxes on the board for teacher use during this part of the lesson.  Give each student a letterbox and letter tiles.  Tell the students to turn the letterbox tiles on the lower case side.  "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 sun.  The first box is for the first sound in sun, the /s/. The second box is for the second sound, the /u/. Remember how the /u/ sound makes the sound we say when we see a bug.  The third box is for the third sound in sun the /n/.  Now, you can practice with the following words: (2) - up (3)-dug, tub, cut, fun, sat, big, den. (4)-plug. (5)-blunt." Have the students do it at their desks at the same speed you do it on the board.  Say the word, count the sounds, make the number of boxes on the board, and have the students tell you the sound they hear.

5. Get out the letterbox words that are written on cards.  Show students the model word. "We are going to read the word dug.  Let’s start with the /u/, now let’s add the /d/ - /du/. Say it together.  Its time to add the last sound /g/ - /dug/.  Now, let’s say the whole word dug." Continue doing this with all the words from the letterbox.

6. The students will be placed in pairs to read Fuzz and the Buzz.  Book talk before splitting the class up: “This book is about a bear who loves honey, but this bear, while getting honey one day, gets into some trouble, to find out what happens to Fuzz you and your partner will have to read Fuzz and the Buzz.."  Give one book to each pair of students.  One child will read pages 1-4 and the other 5-8.  Listen and walk around while the students read the book to each other.

7. Say to students: " Tell me about a bug you don’t like and remember that when we are writing our u we will start at the fence, jump down onto the ground run and jump back up onto the fence and then jump back down once again” (model writing the u as you explain it).  Pass out lined primary paper for the children and give them some time to write their message.


Give the students a picture page where they should circle the pictures with the /u/ sound.  Have the children write the names of the pictures under each one after they have finished finding the /u/ sounds.  While the students are completing the worksheet, I will call students up to my desk one at a time to read pseudowords containing the /u/ sound. 


Bud the Sub. Educational Insights, 1990.

Smith, Abby. Uh, Bugs

Wallach, M.A., & Wallach, L. (1976). Teaching Children to read. Chicago: Univeristy of Chicago Press.

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