UHHH… I Don't Understand

Design for Beginning Reading

Haley Barnes


Rationale:  Recognizing short vowels and distinguishing between letters is a vital part of beginners learning how to read and write. This lesson gives children explicit instruction and modeling on sounding out, writing, and reading the phoneme /u /. After the lesson and activities the students should be able to identify, read, and write the phoneme /u /.


-         Book Bud the Sub

-         Picture of upper/lower case u

-       Picture of confused man scratching his head on a PowerPoint   slide

-         Tongue tickler on PowerPoint slide

-         Primary paper for letter u practice and assessment

-         Worksheet (for short u assessment)

-       Elkonin boxes and baggy of letter tiles for each student

-       Elkonin boxes on PowerPoint slide



1. "Before we learn a new short vowel today, let's review what we already know. We know that a makes the /a/ sound, as in cat. We also know that e makes the /e/ sound, as in pen. Then we learned that I makes the /i/ sound like the word fix. Last week we learned that o makes the /o/ sound, as in hot. Today we are going to learn about u and the /u/ sound.

2. Teacher says, "The letter u makes the sound uhhh. When I think of the /u/ sound, I picture someone with their hand on their head as if they were confused. Look at the picture of the man scratching his head with a confused look on his face (This will be on a PowerPoint slide). This picture can help us remember the /u/ sound. Practice that sound with me uhhhh. Make sure to put your hand on your head like this, like you are confused! Great job!"


3. Next say, "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."


4. I will say to the class, "Let me show you how to find the /u/ in bump. I am going to stretch the word out and listen for the /u/ sound. Bbb-uuu-mmm-pp. I'm going to say it again slower, bbbb-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. 'He might bump his head.'"


5. "Lets review how you write the letter u. To begin we start with our pencil at the fence, and we go down into the ditch and swoop back up to the fence again. Here is some primary paper for you to use. Practice writing your u's on this page. Good job!"


6. "Here is a tongue tickler (On PowerPoint) with the /u/ sound in it. "Rub a dub dub, the ugly bug is in the tub". Let's read that together and find where we hear uuuuhh. Stretch out the /u/ sounds as we read them. Good!"


7. "As we say it again together I want you to go very slowly and separate each part of the words. When you hear the /u/ sound, raise your hand. Awesome!"


8. Letterbox Lesson: Have Elkonin boxes on a PowerPoint slide up for the children to see. Pass out letterboxed for each student and a baggy of tiles with the letter they need. Now say, "We are going to practice spelling words with the /u/ sound. Look at the board and see that there are three spaces for three mouth spaces. I am going to model how to spell tub. The /t/ goes in the first box, the /u/ sound goes in the second box and the /b/ goes in the third. Now practice spelling out with these words: gum, shut, and sat." Have the answers on the board for them to check their answers.


9. Teacher hangs up chart paper with the words TUB, DUMP, STRUM, SHUT, and GUM on it. Says: "Now lets read these words to see if we hear the /u/ sound and feel our tongue make a spoon as we say them. We are going to stretch the words out like we did earlier to see if we hear /u/. I will go first. Ttt-uuuuhh-bbb. T-uuu-b. I hear the /u/ sound in the middle. Say it with me and see if you hear the /u/ sound. Good! Now let's test the next word." Go through all words.


10. Say: "Now we are going to read a book called Bud the Sub. Bud is a submarine that has a special mission. Let's find out what happens on Bud's adventure! Who will he find? Will he make it out safe?!"" (Read story and emphasize the phoneme /u/.)


11. Give each student the assessment worksheet for short u to assess their individual knowledge of the vowel.




Whole text:

Bud the Sub by Sheila Cushman


Tongue Tickler:

Haley Barnes


Lesson Reference:

Catherine Edwards, Uhhhh… What did you say?



Assessment Worksheet:



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