Uh…I don't know?!

Beginning Literacy Design

By: Katie Chadwick



Rationale: Children need to form a good understanding of the relation between letters and their phonemes. Short vowels can be tricky. This lesson will teach the vowel correspondence u=/u/. They will be provided with a sound analogy as well as a picture to help them learn the correspondence and be able to identify it in spoken words. We will also learn to read and spell words that contain the vowel correspondence u=/u/.


Materials: primary paper, pencil, card with tongue tickler, picture of a confused student ("uhh..") to describe the u=/u/ correspondence, list of letterbox words: 2- [up, on], 3- [bud, shut, gum], 4- [blush, stun], 5- [strum, stump], letter boxes, letter tiles: u, p, o, n, b, d, s, h, t, g, m, l, n, r, p, copy of "Bud the Sub", word card with 'burn' and picture of fire



1. Written words can be very tricky. Today, we are going to learn the trick for how to identify the sound that short u makes. After we learn it, you will have an easier time sounding out words with the short vowel u.

2. Here is the first example: The teacher will show the student a picture of a confused student going "uhh.." to illustrate the short u sound. Say: The short vowel u makes the sound /u/. This is the same sound you hear when I don't understand a question. I squinch my eyebrows together to think and say "uhh…?" Say it with me "uhh."

3. Say: I am going to show you how I would read a word with the u=/u/ vowel in it. Look at this word (show word card with a fire and the word 'burn' on it). This word is 'burn.' Watch how I sound it out: b-uhhh-r-n. Burn." Okay now I'm going to read this funny sounding phrase from this card and then I want you to try to read it back to me, okay? Okay. 'Rub a dub dub the ugly bug is in the tub.'

4. Model how to spell a word using the letterboxes. Use the word thud (place each phoneme in a letterbox to model for the student). Model how each sound is represented by a letterbox. "Th," "u," "d." Then have the student use the letterboxes to spell the words on the letterbox list (listed under materials).

5. Have the student read the book "Bud the Sub", but before they read give this book talk: "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?!"

6. Next, we will have a writing activity. Ask the student to write a sentence about what they want to be when they grow up. Model how to write the letter u for review. (Start at the fence, dip down and around--touching the sidewalk--and curve back up the fence, then drop it straight back down to the sidewalk.)

7. For an assessment, I will be taking a running record while the student reads "Bud the Sub."




Short, Becky. "Beginning Literacy Design: Uh. I Don't Know." http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/guides/shortbr.html 

White, Kendra. "Beginning Reader Literacy Design: Uh…bug" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/whitebr.htm

Bud the Sub, Book 10, Short vowel u. Educational Insights: 1990.

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