"Lucky Ducky"

By:  Leann Patterson
"Beginning to Read"

Rational:  In order for students to become proficient readers, they must build their sight vocabulary.  Therefore, teachers must explicitly teach common correspondences to children.  The goal of this lesson is to help students with the vowel correspondence "u."  This lesson will provide students with practice pronouncing the /u/ phoneme when shown the grapheme "u," reading "u," and writing words that contain the "u" correspondence.  After this lesson, I hope students will be able to identify and pronounce /u/ when shown "u" and be able to read words that have the "u" correspondence.

Materials:  student copies of Fuzz and the Buzz (Educational Insights), Elkonin letterboxes drawn on the chalkboard, chalk, student letterboxes and cutout letters, chalkboard, student paper and pencils, word cards (bug, pen, jug,etc.), magazines (optional), activity sheets.

1. Introduce the lesson as learning a secret code.  That is, every letter in the alphabet has a special sound that goes with it.  "Today class, we are going to learn to spot the letter "u" in written text.  Does anyone remember what our mouth does when we make the /u/ sound?  Good, our mouth opens and our tongue just kind of lays there. Are you ready to begin learning???"  Wait for response.

2. "To begin, does anyone know any words that contain the /u/ sound in them?"  As children respond, write their responses on the board.  Hopefully, some of their words will have "u" in them and the /u/ sound.  Be prepared to help the students out.  For example, words like bug, junk, tug, etc.

3. Underline the grapheme in each of the words that make the /u/ sound.  "Class, we would underline the "u" in bug because it makes the /u/ sound.  Does everyone understand?  Great!"

4. Write the tongue twister on the board. -  Uncle was unable to put up his umbrella.  As a class, say the tongue twister.  "How many times did we hear the /u/ sound?  Can anyone raise their hand and tell me one word that has the /u/ sound in it?  Yes, "uncle" has the /u/ sound.  Everyone say "uncle" and stress that "uhhhh" at the beginning of the word.  Everyone-"Uhhhhhhuncle."  Good!"  Circle all the words that contain the /u/ sound.

5. "Now, let's play a word game. I am going to hold up a card with a word on it.  I want each of you to say "LUCKY DUCKY" if the word has the mouth move /u/ in it.  For example, if I held up the word tug you would say "LUCKY DUCKY" because it contains the /u/ sound.  Does everyone understand before we begin?"  Wait for response.  Then, hold up the cards with words written on them to review the /u/ sound.

6.  Now, use the Elkonin boxes that are drawn on the board to do a whole class letterbox lesson (Murray).  Explain that we are going to do a letterbox lesson that uses "u."

a. Have students get out their letterboxes and letters.  They will need the following letters:  b, c, d, f, g, h, j, l, m, n, p, r, s, u, ck..
b. Remind students to turn their letters on the lower case side.
c. Remind the students that each box can hold only one mouth move.
d. Demonstrate on the board two examples.  Class, what if we had the word "sun" as in "I like to be in the sun."  It would go in three letterboxes because you make three mouth moves when you say it.  Listen-"sssss, uhhhhh,  nnnnnnnn."  So, in the first letterbox I would put a "s", in the second box the "u," and in the third box put the "n."  Now, let's try one as a class.  How about the word "duck." I love Daffy the Duck.   Give students a moment to think.  How many boxes class?  Correct, we would only need three boxes again.  Have a student come to the board and put the word "duck" into the 3 boxes.  Good job!  "D" goes in the first box, "u" in the second box, and "ck" in the third box. Remember that "ck" makes one mouth move so it only goes in one box.
e. Now have students fill in the correct letters in their letterboxes for the words below.  Instruct them to use the lower case side of their letters to spell the words.  Give a sentence with each word.  Have the students spell the words and then choose a volunteer to come up and spell it on the board.  Inform the students when a letterbox is added.
                        *bug    *fun  *rush (3 letterboxes)
                        *drum   *club * jump (4 letterboxes)

7. Now the children will be given the book, Fuzz and the Buzz (may want to give a booktalk).  Pair them up and let them buddy read while walking around scaffolding and assisting when needed.  You may want to pair the poor readers with some of the more advanced readers so they can help one another.  Remember students:  We do not tell the word immediately if one messes up.  We wait, then read the sentence, and lastly try cover-ups.  Each student should take turns reading the book one time completely.

8. Assessment:  The students will be given an activity sheet.  The sheet contains 5 sentences on it.  They are to circle all of the words that contain the /u/ sound in them.  While they are doing this, call the students one at a time to you and have them read a small passage (2-3 sentences) to you.

9. Practice (optional) - Have students find pictures or words in a magazine that contain the /u/ sound.  Cut out the pictures and words and glue them to piece of construction paper.  The student must find their findings with the rest of the class.

10. Assessment:  The students will be given an activity sheet.  The sheet contains words with the /u/ sound.  The students are to draw a line that matches the word to its picture.


1. Hill, Tonya.  "The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plains."

2. Murray, B. A. and T. Lesniak. (1999). "The letterbox lesson:  A hands-on
         approach to teaching decoding."  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

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