"Uhh--Thinking About the Letter U"

Meg Griffin



Rationale: Decoding is one of the most important skills in developing skilled readers.  In order for students to learn how to decode words, they must understand the relationships between grapheme and phonemes.  In this lesson, students will learn to read words with the /u/ sound in them.  They will do this by learning a vocal gesture to represent the concept that u=/u/ (I will teach them to place their finger on their temple like they are thinking as they say /u/, as in "uhhh, I don't know", spelling words containing /u/ in letterboxes, and finally using these connections to read decodable texts containing the /u/ sound.  This will enable them to develop an understanding of the u=/u/ correspondence.



U says /u/ picture (thinking)

Tongue Tickler: Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up.

Chart paper to write tongue tickler

Manipulative letters  (a, b, d, e, f, g, h, I, k, l, n, o, r, s, t, u)*

Letter boxes*

Document camera

Fuzz and the Buzz, Phonics Reader, 1990*

Assessment worksheets*


*enough for every child and teacher



1.      Say: Today we are going to be learning about the letter u and one of the sounds that u can make.  The sound that the short u makes is /u/.  That reminds me of the sound that I make when I am trying to think of the answer to a really hard question. (Touch pointer finger to temple as if you are thinking while making the /u/ sound.)  Let's all try that together.  "Uh, I don't know."

2.      (Have tongue tickler written on chart paper so that the entire class can see it.)  Say: Now I am going to read a tongue tickler and I want you to listen very carefully for the /u/ "that's a hard question" sound.  Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up.  Now let's say it one time together as I point to each word.  Listen very carefully for the /u/ sound as you read aloud with me.  This time, we are going to say it a little slower.  Every time that you hear the /u/ sound, I want you to show me that you're thinking (demonstrate the gesture).  Great job finding the /u/ sound and showing me that you were thinking about it!  Let's read through the tongue tickler together one more time.  This time, we are going to stretch out the /u sound when we hear it.  Uuuuncle was uuuupset because he was uuuunable to put his uuuumbrella uuuup.  I like the way that you stretched out those /u/ sounds so that I knew you were thinking about them.

3.      Now I need you to take out your letters and your letterboxes.  The letters that you need today are a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, I, k, l, n, o, r, s, t, u.  We are going to learn how to spell and read some words containing the /u/ sound.  First, we will practice spelling these words in our letterboxes.  I will demonstrate one (show your letter boxes and letters as you spell them out on the document camera), and then I am going to let you try a few.  My word has four sounds in it, so I have four letterboxes showing.  The word is lunch.  I eat lunch in the school cafeteria.  Lunch.  I am going to sound it out slowly.  Lll-uuu-nnn-ch.  I hear /l/ at the beginning, so I know the first letter is l.  I am going to put an l in the first box.  Next I hear my thinking sound, so u goes in the second box.  L-u-nnn-ch.  The next sound I hear is /n/, so I will put an n in the third box.  And the last sound I hear is /ch/.  We know that ch says /ch/, so I am going to put a ch in the last box.

4.      Next, ask students to spell the list of words.  (tub (3), hat (3), hug (3), fog (3), run (3), hush (3), let (3), tag (3), fund (4), gulf (4), dunk (4) flick (4), and sulk (4))  Walk around the room as students are working with their letterboxes.  Check to see that the students are spelling the words correctly.  If a student misspells a word, pronounce the word as it is spelled in their letterboxes.  See if they can correct the spelling.  If not, give them the correct spelling of that word.  If there are any words that are tricky, return to them for extra practice at the end of the lesson.  Always be sure to provide review words in the lesson.

5.      Say: Everyone please put away your letterbox materials.  Now we are going to practice reading some words that we just learned hoe to spell.  I am going to demonstrate the word fluff.  (Put the word fluff on the document camera)  I start with the u because I know that it says /u/.  Then I am going to add the /f/ and the /l/ sound to get /fl//u/.  Now I am going to add the /f/ sound to get /fl//u//ff/.  That is how we read words that we do not know.  We start with the sound we know.  The teacher will then put the words tub, hug, fund, gulf, dunk, and sulk on the document camera one at a time.  The class will read them aloud.  Any words that are difficult for the students should be read vowel first, then body, then coda.

6.      Say:  You all did so well spelling and reading the new words that we learned today.  I think you are ready to read a book with the /u/ sound in it.  The book that we are going to read today is "Fuzz and the Buzz".  (Pass out a copy of the book to every student.)  Fuzz is a bear cub.  He loves to roam and play.  One of his favorite things to do is climb trees where he can eat nuts and honey.  One day Fuzz is eating the honey out of a beehive, and he makes the bees really angry.  The bees begin to chase Fuzz, trying to sting him because they are so mad.  Do you think Fuzz will get away from the bees?  We will have to read the book to find out!  Be sure that students know that they can raise their hand if they need help reading the story.  Also, walk around the room to monitor the students as they are reading.

7.      Assessment: The students will be evaluated on an individual basis.  They will be given a worksheet with pictures on it.  Across from the pictures there will be a list of words that have the /u/ sound in them.  The u will be missing, and students are to fill in the missing u to complete the words.  They then draw a line connecting the picture to the word it represents.



Pride, Jennifer. "Every Creaky Door Says Ehhh"



Ballard, Brittany. "Uhh--I Need an Umbrella"





Fuzz and the Buzz. Phonics Reader, 1990.


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