Uhhh… I don't know!

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Brooke Evans



Rationale: In order for students to become independent readers, they must first become aware of the phonemes and their uses in everyday language. Short vowels are very difficult for children to learn because several short vowel phonemes sounds are very similar. This lesson is specifically designed to help children learn the correspondence u=/u/. The students will recognize /u/ in spoken words by meaning representation (picture of a girl thinking), letter symbols, and in practicing finding the letter in other words using a letterbox.



Graphic image of girl thinking

Cover-up critter

Elkonin boxes for modeling and for students use

Letter manipulative for each child for the Elkonin boxes use

2 list of spelling words on paper: hum, rug, sad, dot, chum, shug, rob, jump, plus, stun, list

Decodable text: Fuzz and the Buzz

Assessment worksheet for noting miscues

Lines primary paper and a mechanical pencil




1 Say: Our written language is like a code and in order to be good readers, we have to learn how to read the code. Last week we learned how to pronounce the correspondence a=/a/ and this week we are going to learn about the short vowel u=/u/.


2 I will show the student a picture of the little girl thinking and model to them how to make the u=/u/ sound. I will then ask the student, "can you make the sound that this girl is making?" "Can you hear the /u/ in the sound you are making?" "What shape is your mouth in when you are making the uhhhhh sound?" I will then let the child say the uhh sound several times to notice the shape that their mouth is in.


3 Now let's try a tongue twister with the /u/ sound in it. Have a chart with the tongue twister and a picture to demonstrate what we are saying. "Uncle was upset about his umbrella." Now lets say it together. Now we will say it together and stretch out the /u/ sound, "Uuuuuncle was uuuuupset about his uuuuumbrella." Now, lets use our cover-up critter to sound out our phonemes and blend the words.


4 Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /u/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /u/ in words I think about the little girl thinking while making the uhhhh sound. When I say /u/ my mouth is wide open. Watch and listen as I say some words. When you hear the /u/ sounds I want you to make the thinking face:

          - cub or tab

          -jump or jep

          -hum or him


5 The student will now have his Elkonin box in front of him. Model how to spell out a word by first folding out three Elkonin squares. Say: "I use three squares because there are three sounds in tug, /t/ /u/ /g/." "If I wanted to spell the word tug, I would place t in the first box because the first sound that I hear is /t/. In the next box I would place my u because I hear the /u/ sound like I am thinking. Lastly, I would place g in the third box because I hear /g/. Now I want you to try to spell some words." Have students spell:

-hum, rug, sad, sum, dot, chum, shug, rob, jump, plus, stun, list


6 Once students have spelled the words, I will read one or two words from the list modeling how to read a word and using the cover-up critter. Then I will have the student read from the list of words individually. 


7 Say: You have done a great job reading our new words for /u/. Now we are going to read a book called Fuzz and the Buzz. This book is about a bear named Fuzz. One day Fuzz goes out to try and find something to eat. Fuzz finally finds some acorns in a tree and shakes the tree to try and get the acorns down. What Fuzz didn't realize was that there were bees in the tree and he made them mad. We will have to read and find out what happened to Fuzz.


8 Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about u= /u/, I want to see how well you can read Fuzz and the Buzz. Have students read the text to you individually and score accuracy by using a running record.



          The student will be given a worksheet to complete that has several words missing the correspondence u=/u/. They will write in the correspondence and then sound out the word they completed.


Worksheet: https://www.etap.org/demo/langart1/lak3l1_3w5.pdf

Ashley Wood "Uhh Don't Punch Too Hard" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/woodbr.html

Meg Griffin: "Uhh--Thinking About the Letter U" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/realizations/griffinbr.htm

 Decodable Text. "Fuzz and the Buzz". Educational Insights. 1990.

 Tongue tickler: http://www.toonpool.com/user/562/files/umbrella_594855.jpg



Return To Expeditions Index