Uhhhh… What did you say?

Catherine Edwards

Beginning Reading Design


Rationale: This lesson highlights the correspondence u=/u/ to help students identify it in spoken in written words. Through a meaningful representation, scratching their heads and making a question face saying, “Uhhh? What do you mean?” students will learn to recognize /u/ in spoken words. Seeing the letter symbol “u” and practicing hearing /u/ uses what they have learned to recognize /u/ in words spoken and in “u” words they see.


Materials: Students need an individual pencil. Teacher needs a PowerPoint picture with a man scratching his head with a question, confused face. Also, a tongue tickler, list of words for each demonstration, list of words for students to respond to, a worksheet (link attached below) for students, a piece of paper for drawing words that start with V for each student, a worksheet for each student, a book for each student, and a list of words written down for individual assessment is needed.



            I will first show a picture of a man scratching his head with a confused look on his face on a PowerPoint slide. I will say, “Okay class, we are going to start working on finding the letter /u/ in the words we hear and in the words we see. When you say, ‘Uhhh, what did you say?’ you make the /u/ sound.” I know this is important to get the student seeing what symbol we are working with and hearing the sound we are going to make with /u/.

            Next, I will say, “As a class let’s practice saying “uhhh” while scratching our head and making a face like we are confused. As we do this, think about how your mouth moves when you make the /u/ sound. When we say /u/ our mouth is open, our tongues are down in a spoon shape, and we are making the uhhh sound from the back of our throats.

            I will say to the class, “Let me show you how to find the /u/ in dump. I am going to stretch the word out and listen for the /u/ sound. Ddd-uuu-mmm-pp. I’m going to say it again slower, dddd-uuuuuu-mmm-pp. Both times I felt my mouth open, my tongue made a spoon, and I made the sound from the back of my throat. I can dump the trash on the street.

            I will continue the lesson with a tongue tickler using the /u/ sound. Look up at the PowerPoint. Class, I will say a sentence first and then you say it me. “The bug was upset because he was unable to open his umbrella. Okay, let’s say it together again, but this time we are going to scratch our head and make a confused face when we hear /u/. ‘The buuuuug was uuuupset because he was uuuunable to open his uuuuumbrella.’”

            “Now, we are going to practice listening for /u/ in some words I say. For example, duck, duuuuck I hear /u/ in duck, so I scratched my head and made a confused face. Now I am going to say some words, and I want you to scratch your head if you hear the /u/ sound just like in ‘duck,’ ready (teacher says the words one by one with the same routine as when he or she said ‘duck’ with the class): tug, mat, run, mommy, funny, bug, substitute.”

            “Now we are going to spell some words with the sound /u/ in them. These words have the letter ‘u’ in them. For example, do you hear /u/ in bug? The first sound I hear is bbb, so I need a ‘b.’ The second sound I hear is uuu like ‘uhhh, what did you say?’ and the third sound I hear is a ggg, so I need a g. Bug is spelled b-u-g. (I will write the word on the board). Class, how would you spell mut? (Wait for students to answer and write what they spell. If they spell it wrong say what they spelled. Then, spell it for them if they don’t correct it.) The next word we are going to spell is much…(do the same routine after spelling mut), truck, rub, luck, and gut.”

            I will then give a book talk for the decodable book, “Bud the Sub.” I will say, “Bud the sub is not very big, but big enough to fit it’s boss, Gus. One day, Gus is riding the sub in the ocean they hit something! Will the sub sink? Will they be able to save others who need help?” I will have enough books for each student to have one. I will assign each student a partner and have him or her read aloud to each other. One partner reads one page and the next partner read the next page. I will walk around and make sure students are reading and following along and that each partner is reading.

            I will say, “Okay let’s review. (Show the word runs.) Say: ruuuuns. (Scratch head and make a confused face while saying the word.) Okay, do you hear /u/ in ruuun or raaan? Run.” (Scratch head and look confused while hearing /u/ such, boom, fun, truth.)

            Pass out worksheets on “u.” Students will complete a worksheet which has them draw a line to the picture that have /u/ in them. As students are working on this, I will call back students and see if they can recognize /u/ in words I say to them and recognize u in words I write down.


Assessment: To see if students can hear /u/ in a word I will observe as the students are responding to my questions in whole group. I will also look at the worksheet the students completely and listen to the students as they come to me individually.



Similar Lesson: “Uhhhh? I don’t know” by Rebecca Weathers



Assessment Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/kindergarten/vowels/u-begins1.htm


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