“Uhhh,” says the Confused Caveman!

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By: Sarah Grace Durrance

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the vowel corresponce u=/u/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling /u/. They will learn a meaningful representation (“Uhhh,” says the Confused Caveman), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox Lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence u=/u/.

Materials: Graphic image of the Confused Caveman; cover-up critter; whiteboard or smartboard Elkonin boxes for modeling; individual Elkonin boxes for each student, letter manipulatives for each student and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: d,u,k,c,s,m,g,p,f,n,e,r,t,c,t; List of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: duck, pug, dug, fun, smug, truck, crunch, stunt; Decodeable text: Chuck and Chad get Lunch by Bridget Clabby and Assessment Worksheet.


1.)    Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read all the short vowels except one. We know a,e,i,o and today we are going to learn about short u. When I say /u/ I think of a funny and confused caveman scratching his head saying, “Uhhh.” (Show the graphic image)


2.)    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 hear the u say /u/ and my mouth is open with my lips shaped like this. (Make vocal gesture for /u/) I'll show you first: luck. I heard u say its sound and I felt my make that wide-open space. Now you try. If you hear /u/ say, “'Uhhh' says the Confused Caveman.” If you don't hear /u/ say, “That's not it.” Is it in ran, puck, dill, or lips? (Have children make a circle motion around their mouth when they feel /u/ say its sound.)



3.)    Say: Now let's look at the spelling of u that we'll learn today. The way we spell /u/ is with the letter u, usually in the beginning or middle of a word. (Write u=/u/ on the board.) This means that /u/ makes the letter u. What if I want to spell the word “puck?” “If I hit the puck with my stick it will move across the ice.” Puck means an item you use to play in hockey. To spell “puck” in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /p/ /u/ /k/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /u/ just before the /k/ so I'm going to put a u in the second box. The word starts with /p/, that's easy; I need a p. Now it gets a little tricky so I'm going to say it slowly, /p/ /u/ /k/. I think I heard the /k/ sound. I have one empty box left and I am going to put the letter k there. This does not look right. I know that the letters c and k make the /k/ sound. Let's try that.


4.)    Say: Now I'm going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You'll start out easy with three boxes for pug. A pug is a type of dog. “The pug was missing his collar when we found him.” What should go in the first box? (Respond to children's answers). What goes in the second box?  (Respond to children's answers) What goes in the third box? I'll check your spelling while I walk around the room. (Observe Progress.) You'll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that goes in the first box. Then listen for /u/. Here's the word: duck, “I have a duck swimming in my pond. Duck.” (Allow children to spell words.) Time to check your word. Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board: d-u-ck and see if you've spelled it the same way. Try another with three boxes: fun; “I have a lot of fun with my friends.” (Have volunteer spell it in the letterbox on the front board for children to check their work. Repeat this step for each new word.) Next word. Listen to see if this word has /u/ in it before you spell it: drip; “The water will drip from the ceiling.” Do you hear /u/ in this word? Why not? Right, because it has the /i/ sound instead of /u/. (Have volunteer write the word on the board and explain why.) Now let's try 4 phonemes: truck, “The cowboy drove a big truck.” One more and then we are done with spelling, and this time you need five boxes: crunch, “I always hear a crunch when I eat my cereal.” Remember to stretch it out to get this tough word.


5.)    Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you're spelled, but first I'll show you how I would read a tough word. (Display poster with stunt on the top and model reading the word.)First, I see there's a u in the middle of the word. I'm going to use a cover-up to get the first part. (Uncover and blend sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.) /s/ /t/= /st/. Now I'm going to blend that with /u/= /stu/. Now all I need is the end, /n/ /t/= /nt/. /stunt/. Stunt, that's it. Now it's your turn, everyone together. (Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.)



6.)    Say: You've done a great job reading words with your new spelling for u=/u/. Now we are going to read a book called Chuck and Chad get Lunch. This is a story about a monkey named, Chuck, and a chick named, Chad, that are hungry and need to eat lunch really badly. Let's pair up and take turns reading Chuck and Chad get Lunch to find out what these animals find to eat. (Children pair up and take turns reading the story and listening to their partner and then switching roles while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Chuck and Chad Get Lunch aloud together, and stop between pages and turn to discuss the plot.)


7.)    Say: This was a fun story. What happened to Chuck and Chad after they ate a lot of food? Right, they got sick from eating too much. What was the difference between Chuck and Chad? Right, one is a monkey and one is a chick. Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell u=/u/, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem. On this worksheet, we have several words listed. I want you to find the words with the short u in them, circle them, and then write them on the line in alphabetic order. (Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.)


Clabby, Bridget (ND) Chuck and Chad have Lunch. Reading Genie:http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/teacherbooks.html

Murray, B. (ND) Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/~murraba/phonwords.html

Assessment Worksheet: http://www.kidzone.ws/prek_wrksht/learning-letters/u.htm

Catherine Edwards, Uhhhh What did you Say? Lesson! http://www.auburn.edu/~cce0004/edwardsbr.htm

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