It's All about U

Beginning Reading

Kristen Baumgartel

Rationale:   This lesson will help students identify the u_e = /U/ relationship in speaking and understanding words.  In order to become competent readers, students must be able to recognize that letters may have different sounds in different words.  For example, students must understand and distinguish long and short vowels.  This lesson will focus on the long U and its use in words that end in a silent e.  Students will be able to distinguish the long U sound and demonstrate how to move their mouths when the long U sound is made.  The students will explore the u_e = /U/ in the lesson and apply it in reading and speaking words.


Book:  Stu's Tune

Primary paper and pencil, chart with "A cute mule plays a huge flute in June"

Word list on 3x 5 cards:   cute, cube, flute, June, huge, mule, tube , rude, tune, uke, use (Explain what a uke is from ukulele.  Show a picture.)

Letterboxes for the lesson

Letter tiles needed:  c, t, b, f, , J, h, g, m, l, ,r, d, n, k, s

Assessment worksheet making words with long U and silent e

Follow-up exercise:  Trace words with long u and write a sentence with one of them.


1. Our written language is a secret code.  The tricky part is to learn what letters stand for and how our mouths move when we say the words.  We know that the vowels are very important in pronouncing words.  Sometimes vowels can be short, or they can be long.  Today, we are going to learn to say and recognize the long u sound.  To accomplish this goal, we are going to use the silent e on the end to help us.  Remember our rule:  When the sneaky e is on the end, the vowel says its name.  Let's look at some words that have the long u and the sneaky e.  (Put list on board or show cards.)

2. Say the words after me.  Notice where your lips and mouth are when you say the words with the long u.  Say a few and demonstrate the placement of lips and mouth.

3. Now let's try this tongue twister to help us say the long U sound:  The cute mule played a huge flute.  Did you hear all the long U sounds? 

4. Let's say the tongue twister three times.  Now, let's say it more slowly.  (This time emphasize the long u.)  Also, discuss with student that the long U can be spelled in different ways and provide them with at least one example.  For instance, another long u correspondence is ew = /U/  as in few or crew

5. Now, we will spell some words using our letterboxes.  The words will contain 3 and 4 phoneme words.  Lay out the letters and letterboxes needed for the students to spell the words from the list.  Explain that each box represents each letter sound in a word.  Begin by modeling how to spell a word using the letterboxes.  Explain:  I am going to lay out three letterboxes because I know that the word cube has three phonemes.  Model:  cube  I will put a /c/ in the first box, the letter /U/ will go in the second box, and the letter /b/ will go in the third box.  Also, I will place the letter e beside the third box on the outside because it is a silent e.

6. Using the letter boxes, have students spell all the words from the list in the letterboxes.  Start with three letterboxes and continue on through the four letterboxes.  Review the words on the list using the flash cards.  Ask students to read the words as you hold up the cards.  Model the first one:  Say, /c/ /U/ /b/.  Put the e in red to indicate it is silent.

7. Hold up a sentence strip with three words.  Ask students to find the word with the long U sound.  Example:  cut, cute, cub   They should recognize that the e on the end makes cute the word with the long U sound. 

8. Read the book, Stu's Tune.  Pass out copies of the book and tell the students a little about the book.  The story is about a little boy named Stu who keeps hearing the same tune  everywhere he goes.  Why do you think he keeps hearing the same tune?   You will have to read the book to find out why.  Students will read the book and demonstrate that they can read words with the long vowel U correspondence. 

9. For assessment, pass out the create words with long U sounds.  When students finish, have them read the words to you. 

10. For follow-up, have students trace the words that have long u, write a sentence with one, and draw the sentence in the space provided.  This activity is a good one to share with parents at home.



Stu's Tune  Written by: Sheila Cushman and Rona Kornblum  Illustrated by: Bob Brugger

worksheets and assessment sheets:

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