Hug a Bug

Beginning Reading
By Amanda Merkel


A crucial part of learning how to read and write is having an understanding of the alphabetic code and small units of sound which are also called phonemes. Graphemes (letters) represent these phonemes. This lesson will help children identify the short u phoneme, /u/. Students will learn how to locate /u/ sounds in spoken and written words, and will be able to connect this phoneme to a meaningful representation and a letter symbol.


- Picture of a crying baby, creaky door knob, icky sticky, and a person yawing (found on reading genie website) 

- Picture of a person hugging a bug (might have to make your own)

- Letter boxes - one for each student

- Magnetic letters for teacher- (a, i, e, o, u, s, h, t, t, h, g, b, d, p, r, m, f, c, j, k,).

-Metal cookie tray

- 19 straight line magnets (to make letter boxes on the cookie tray, if you could find six, small, square, magnetic picture frames that would work as well)

-Letter tiles for each student - (a, i, e, o, u, s, h, t, t, h, g, b, d, p, r, m, f, c, j, k,).

 - Primary paper

- Pencils - one for each student

- Chart Paper with the tongue twister - "Uncle Chuck hugged the plump bug.''

- Bud the Sub - one for each student

- Assessment worksheet that will have a picture and words where they have to circle the correct answer


 1. To start the lesson the teacher needs to review the short vowel sounds a, e, i, and o before moving on to the short u sound. It’s important that you review with the students the short vowel phonemes that they know. It gives them confidence to realize that they have already mastered something. To review the teacher needs to hold up each picture of the phonemes separately and go over the phonemes. The teacher then needs to write the letters on the board and review with the students what the grapheme looks like. After reviewing, the teacher should display the picture of a person hugging a bug that includes the letter u grapheme. The class should then discuss what sound this phoneme should make. Tell the class that u sounds like /u/. Like what you do when you hug someone tight. After modeling the /u/ sound and the gesture of hugging someone real tight, everyone should practice hugging their bug real tight and making the /u/ sound.

 2. Next, the tongue twister will be introduced. The chart paper with the tongue twister on it will be displayed on the board and then it will be read slowly so that all of the children can hear it clearly. ''Uncle Chuck hugged the plump bug.” After it is said aloud, the students and the teacher should say it aloud together. Then the teacher should say it again modeling how to stretch out the /u/ sound and using the hugging gesture whenever it is said: ''Uuuuncle Chuuuuuck huuuugged the pluuuump buuuuug.''  The teacher and the students should say the tongue twister again together, adding the stretched /u/ sound and the hugging gesture.

3. After the tongue twister the students should be instructed on how to find the /u/ sound in several different spoken words. The students will listen as the teacher say two words: ''under'' and ''over''. After they hear the words, they will have to tell the teacher which of the two words contains the /u/ sound by holding up their thumbs. The students must listen to see if they can hear it on their own. The teacher will see how many students raise their thumbs when they hear the word under and when they hear the word over. Then the teacher will explain to the students that she hears the /u/ sound and under and she will stretch out the /u/ uuuunder.  The teacher should then ask a series of words to see if the students can correctly pick out the words with the /u/ sound in them.  A few examples of words are:  Up or down? Stick or stump? Raincoat or umbrella? Jump or hop? Goose or duck? Sing or sung? Bath or tub?

4. The teacher should then tell the students that this sound is spelled with the letter u. She should ask if the students know what the letter u looks like. If some students say yes the teacher should ask them to draw an imaginary lower case u in the air. The teacher should then write a lower case u on the board going over the language. (Start at fence, curve down, touch the sidewalk, curve back up, touch the fence and then go straight down to the sidewalk to for a tail.) The teacher should pass out primary paper and let the students try writing us. She should make sure they use the language. The teacher should walk around to help when necessary. Tell the students to write the lowercase u ten more times using the language.

 5.  Before giving out the letter boxes and letters, the teacher should model how to hear and correctly spell the sounds in different words. The teacher should have her cookie tray out, magnetic letters, and the magnets to make letter boxes on the cookie sheet. The teacher should have three letterboxes displayed and then should tell her students that she needs to spell the word cup. The teacher should say something along the lines of:  “How would I spell the word cup? Let’s see. Cccccuuuupppp. Well the first sound I hear is the /k/ sound. I know that sound can be spelled by the letter k or c. I think I’ll choose c to put in my first letter box because it sounds like a word that would start with c. Cuuuupppp. Next we have the /u/ sound. Oh! That’s the sound we make when we hug our bug! That’s a u. I’m going to put a u in the second box. Cuppppp. Now we have the /p/ sound. I know that’s the letter that beings pop and pen. That’s the letter p. I’ll put that one in my last box.” The teacher should then read the word and ask the students if they believe she spelled it right. If not, tell them to explain why.

6. The students should then be given their letter boxes. The teacher should give the students one word at a time. Encourage them to sound it aloud, and walk around to see if anyone needs help. After each word, ask one of the students how they spelled the word. The teacher should spell it on her cookie tray in the boxes like the child tells her. Then ask if they other students agree. The words are: shut, hug, bed, pat, drum, fast, crop, jump, stick, trust.


 7. After completing the letterbox practice, the teacher should check for the students' understanding by making them read the words they just spelled out in their letterboxes.  The teacher should write each word on the board in a random order and encourage the students to sound out each phoneme as they read the word. The teacher should be careful not to call on the same child each time.

 8. Next, the teacher should give each student the book, Bud the Sub.  She should tell them about the book and get them interested in it by giving a book talk. Students will each have a book, and a partner to read to. They will take turns reading their books to one another. The teacher should tell them to pay close attention to the /u/ sound.


Each student will be given an assessment worksheet with words and picture. They will have to read the words and circle the one that matches the picture


- Educational Insights. Bud the Sub. 1990.

- Ed

-Rachel Sparkman

-Holland Stevens

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