Uhhh...Do You Hear That Sound?

by Miranda Lewis

Beginning Literacy


Students must learn how to identify letters with their vocal gestures and sounds before developing the phonemic awareness needed to become readers. Students will learn how to identify the short U sound, (u=/u/), in words by learning a visual and oral representation of the sound, practicing printing the letter U, and identifying the short U sound in spoken words. We will practice how to identify the short U sound in written words by reading a book together (in partners), and spelling teacher provided words using letterboxes. Students will also practice finding the /u/ sound by completing a picture worksheet, in which students circle the pictures that represent words with the short /u/ sound.



1. “All of the letters in the alphabet make different sounds. Then, those sounds make words when you put them together! We're going to watch a video about the short vowel u. The short vowel u says /u/. You know, to remember that you can think about someone who is confused scratching their head and saying “Uhh”.

2. “Do you see the man in this picture? His name is Hugo. He is reading the newspaper and says 'Uhh' because he is confused. Can everyone say that with me? (Wait for students to do it with me,) Good! Sometimes when I get confused or don't know the answer to a question, I say 'Uhh...' Has that every happened to any of you? (Wait for student response). Well when that happens to me, I often put my finger to my head like this (scratching head) and say 'Uhh.' Can you do that with me? (Practice saying 'uh' and scratching our heads) You've got it! Now every time we hear /u/ in a word today, I want us all to put our finger on our head, scratch, and say 'Uhh.' This will help us remember what u sounds like as a short vowel. If you need help remembering the sound the letter U makes, look at confused Hugo on the board and he will remind you."

3."Now, we are going to say this silly sentence I have on the board. (I will point to the poster displayed on the board.) Every time you hear the /u/ sound I want you to put your finger on your temple and say "Uhh" like we practiced, ok? I'll say it once first and then we will say it together adding the /u/'s. The tongue twister is 'Uncle was upset when he was unable to hang the umbrella up.' Now let's do it together: Uncle (Uhh) was upset (Uhh) when he was unable (Uhh) to put (Uhh) his umbrella (Uhh) up (Uhh). You guys are amazing!

4. "We found the /u/ sound in those words because it was the first sound that we heard. We knew upset had the /u/ sound in it because the first sound in the word was /u/. Now lets try to find /u/ hidden in the middle of words. I'll show you how I find it in a word, then you will get to try it. I will see if I can find /u/ in the word hundred by saying it very slowly and listening for the Hugo's confused /u/ sound.

5. I will write “drum” on the board, then I will sound it out for the class. "Drum. Drr-uuu-mm. D-rrrr-uuuuuuu-mmm. There it was! R-uuuu, I hear the confused /u/ sound right after the 'r' in the word drum. Now let's try a few together. When you hear the short u sound in a word, I want you to give me two thumbs up. When you don't hear that short u, I want you to put your hands behind you back. Can you hear /u/ in Walk or Run? Ugly or Pretty? Gross or Yucky? Car or Truck? Bus or Van? Caterpillar or Butterfly? Pumpkin or Gourd? Skip or Jump? Sucker or Lollipop? Fudge or Chocolate?

6. “Now that we know how to listen for the short u sound in words, let's see if we can find the letter u in words!” Students now need one sheet of primary paper and a pencil. “I am going to show you how to make a lowercase u. Now is that the big letter or the small letter? (small) Then, I want you to try it. I will form a lowercase u by starting at the fence and going down to the sidewalk, curving back up to the fence, and going straight back down to the sidewalk (printing this as I say it on the board). So, we go down the to ditch from the sidewalk, curve up, and go straight back down (drawing it again.) Now I want you to write a lowercase u 5 times. I will walk around and help you. Next, we are going to practice writing the big U. What do we call that? (Uppercase)” Draw it just like the lowercase u, except start drawing the letter at the hat line.

7. I will hand out a bag to each student containing materials needed for the Letterbox portion of the lesson. "We are going to try to spell words by listening to the sounds that the letters in that word make. Each box of our letterbox stands for a sound in the word, so we're going to put the letter or letters that those sounds make in their own boxes. (writing on board) Bug. Bbbbbuuuuuuggggggg. B-u-g. I hear three sounds in that word. (Draw 3 letterboxes on the board) B-, that's b. B-u-, then a u. B-u-g, we need a g at the end 'g,g,g'. Now let's try one together! We need three boxes for the word sun. (Walk around ensuring that everyone has 3 boxes prepared.) After the students have spelled all the words provided, they will be asked to read the words they just spelled to a partner.

8. Students will keep the same partner, in order to read Bud the Sub, which focuses on short u words, in pairs.Today, you will be reading Bud the Sub with your partners. You will read one page, then your partner will read the next. You should read the book 2 times! I will walk around to help you with words you're having trouble with.” Booktalk: “The book you are about to read to your partner is about a submarine named Bud! One day, Bud sees a tug boat that has crashed. What does he do? Can he help save the big tugboat? Read to find out!”


9. For assessment, distribute the worksheet. Students are to read the words under each picture, then circle the short u word that represents the picture shown. Call students back individually to read the phonetic cue words from step #7.


Saye, Maggie. “Uhhh, I'm Confused!” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/sayebr.html

1)Assessment worksheet: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/phonics/mc/u-short/index.shtml

2) Cushman, Sheila. Bud the Sub. Educational Insights. Carson, CA: 1990


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