Uh, let me think about that!





A Beginning Reading Lesson

Shannon McDevitt


Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence u= /u/. In order to be able to read, children must be able to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. Throughout this lesson, children will continuously practice recognizing, spelling and reading words containing the /u/ sound. To aid the children in remembering the correspondence, they will learn a meaningful representation (the girl pondering saying “Uh”) to make spelling and reading words containing easier. The students will participate in a letterbox activity and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence u=/u/.


Materials: Picture of the pondering girl, cover-up critter, dry-erase board for modeling, a dry erase marker, Elkonian boxes for students, letter tiles (l,u,n,c,h,s,w,g,m,d,r,p,t,b,p,k), ‘SWUNG’ poster, list of spelling words on a poster to read: lunch, swung, gum, drum, plug, must, club, grump and shrunk, decodable text for each child (Chuck and Chad), and assessment worksheets for each child.



1.   SAY: In order to become expert readers we have to learn the code that helps us pronounce words. We have already read some short vowel words like tap, grip and fed. Today we are going to add to that bunch and learn about the short u vowel sound. When I think of the short u sound /u/ I think of a girl, or boy, thinking really hard about something and saying “Uh” as if he/she is trying to come up with an answer (show the image). When we hear the /u/ sound, we know we must see a u (write letter on the board) in the word.

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, my mouth is open and my tongue is down. I hear the sound a pondering boy or girl would make (model for the children what mouth looks like). I’ll show you first: mud. I heard the pondering /u/ sound and my mouth was open, there is a short u in mud. Now I am going to see if I hear that same sound in a different word: wrap. Hmm, I didn’t hear the pondering /u/ I hear a different short vowel. Now you try, if you hear /u/ say, “Uh, let me think about that.” If you don’t hear /u/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in: club, tank, brush, treat, plus, hunt, stick, lunch, plum.

3.   SAY: What if I wanted to spell the word lunch? I can’t wait to eat my yummy lunch. To spell lunch in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count : /l/ /u/ /n/ /ch/. I need 4 boxes. I heard the /u/ just after the /l/ so I am going to put a u in the second box. The word starts with /l/, so I am going to put l in the first box. Next, I already have my vowel, the u so I am going to sound out my word again and see what comes next. /L/ /u/ /n/ /ch/. I will put an n in my third box. I have one box left, I need to listen carefully to this next sound, /l/ /u/ /n/ /ch/. I know that two letters make the /ch/ sound, so I will put ch in my last box. Now here is a harder word to read: swung (show them poster with swung and model how to read it). I am going to start with the pondering /u/ sound that I know. Now I am going to put the beginning sound before it, s-w-u, /swu/. Now I have to add the ending, /swu-ng/. Oh, swung like “I swung the bat.”

4.   SAY: Now I am going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. We are going to practice our new correspondence, so be listening for that /u/ sound. You will need three letterboxes for the first word. The word is gum. Listen to the sounds when I say gum. I like to chew gum, gum. Let’s try another one-you will need four letterboxes now. The word is drum, the drum is my favorite instrument, drum.  (Allow children to spell the remaining words as I supply sentences for each word: plug, must, club, grump, and shrunk.)

5.   SAY: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled (show the words lunch, swung, gum, drum, plug, must, club, grump and shrunk). The small group of kids will read the words together then I will call on individuals to practice reading the words we just spelled. 

6.   SAY: You have done a fantastic job reading words with our new vowel sound. Now we are going to read a book called Chuck and Chad. Chuck is a chimp and Chad is a chick. They are both super hungry and cannot wait to have lunch. They decided to run to find some lunch and finally spot a perfect picnic with plenty of lunch for them. But will it be too much lunch for Chuck and Chad? Let’s read with your neighbor about Chad and Chuck. (Monitor progress as they read to each other). Great, now let’s read the story together (choral read together, frequently stopping to ask questions about the story.)

7.   SAY: Before we finish up with our lesson on the pondering /u/, I want to see how well you can solve these reading mysteries. On this worksheet, we have a few words missing. Your job is to complete each sentence with the word that makes the most sense. First, try reading all the words so you know what your choices consist of. When you are finished, hand your papers to me..



Clabby, B. Chuck and Chad Get Lunch. Reading Genie. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/teacherbooks.html

Murray, B. Making Friends with Phonemes. Reading Genie.   http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/phon.html

Assessment worksheet: http://www.lessonplanet.com/teachers/worksheet-phonics-short-u--2


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