Under the Umbrella!

Katie Guyton

Beginning Reading

Rational:  Breaking the alphabetic code is important for beginning readers.  In order for beginning readers to read they have to understand phonemes.  This lesson is designed to help beginning readers understand how u = /u/. We will do this by working with a tongue twister.   Students will be able to find and hear /u/ in spoken and written words.


Picture of a girl under an umbrella

Elkonin letter boxes (one for each child)

Elkonin letter boxes for teacher

Letter manipulatives (one set for each child and one set for teacher - b, u, f, s, n, f, g, c, m, t, r, k, p, p)

Primary paper (one per child)

Blank paper (one per child)

Pencil (one per child)

Chart with tongue twister: Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up.

Fuzz and the Buzz (one per two students)


1.      I will show the students the picture of the girl under the umbrella.  I will ask them if they know what letter makes the /u/ sound.  "Boy's and girl's, this is a picture of a girl under an umbrella.  Does anyone know what letter the /u/ sound makes?  Today we will be talking about the letter u and how it makes the/u/ sound. Let's all make the /u/ sound together.  Can anyone think of a word that has the /u/ sound in it?"  This will be an opportunity for the students to think on their own before instruction begins.  "When we say umbrella we hear the /u/ sound.  Has everyone used an umbrella before?  Say umbrella with me.  Do you hear the /u/ sound?"

2.     Next I will show them the tongue twister chart. : Ok everyone, this is a tongue twister.  Let's count how many times we hear the /u/ sound.  I'm going to say the twister slowly and you listen carefully.  UUUncle was uuupset because he was uuunable to put his uuumbrella uuup.  How many times did you hear the sound/u/?  Five! That's correct.  Some of you may think six because of the letter u in put but it doesn't make the /u/ sound."  Now I will show them the sign we use when we say the /u/ sound.  This is when you place your index finger and your thumb under your chin, like you are thinking.  "Now I want everyone to say the tongue twister together and this time I want you to make our hand sign and say it slowly with me just like I say it slowly for you."  We will repeat the stretching out of the /u/ in the tongue twister and make the motion every time we hear the /u/ sound.

3.      Next we will work on the /u/ sound in spoken words.  This is reinforcement from the tongue twister chart.  "Now we are going to choose between two words we hear.  The catch is, you have to repeat the word that has the /u/ sound in it.  Does everyone understand? Ok let's begin.  Do you hear the /u/ sound in truck or car?  Push or shove? Skip or run?  Bottle or cup? Smash or crush? Great job." 

4.     Before giving each child their own letter box and letters I will show them how the letter box lesson works.  I will model for them how to sound out and sell the words that will be presented to them.  "My word is bug.  The first thing I hear when I say bug is bbbb, so I will place a b in the first box.  The next thing I hear is that /u/ sound we have been talking about, uuuu, so next I will put a u.  The last sound I hear is a gggg, so I will lay down my g in the last box.  Now I will blend the letters in the box together, b-u-g, bug."  Modeling is a great way for children to understand how things work.  "Now I will give you each your letter boxes and letters."

5.     Each child will receive their own letters and boxes.  We will start out with two boxes and end on five boxes.  I will tell the children when they need to change the size of their boxes.  These words will be given to the one by one to spell in their boxes:   up, buff, dug, cub, scum, snug, pump, spun, struck, strut.

6.     To assess their understanding of the /u/ sound I will have the students write out ten /u/ words on a blank piece of paper. These words include: club, duck, cuff, rug, plum, jump, spun, crush, nut, dunk.  This will show me that they can sound out the words quietly to themselves and spell them out correctly. "Now I want to see that you know how to hear and spell words with the /u/ sound"

7.     Next is book time.  The children will be in pairs to read together.  Each child will take a turn read a page out of Fuzz and the Buzz.  "Fuzz and the Buzz is about a little bear who gets into mischief.  Now he can't get the buzzing buzz away from him.  What is he to do?  To find out you have to read Fuzz and the Buzz.  Now I want you to split into pairs and read one page per person.  If you get finished early reread the book except change up pages."

8.    Last is the message time.  This is when the children are given a piece of primary paper.  The teacher can give the students an idea to write about or they may write about anything they want to.


 I will be assessing the students throughout the entire lesson.  In process six there will be an assessment that requires paper and pencil.  The students have a "spelling test".  This shows me that they can hear the /u/ is spoken words and transfer that onto paper.



Uhhhh…I Can't Remember What Sound the U Makes by Adriane Harden


Tongue Twister by Wallach and Wallach


Picture of girl under umbrella


Educational Insights. Fuzz and the Buzz. 1990.

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