The Ghost Who Says "Oooo"

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By:  Sara Beasley


This lesson teaches children about the vowel correspondence u_e = /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_e.  They will learn a meaningful representation (ghost saying Oooo), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence u_e = /U/.



Graphic image of ghost; cover-up critter, whiteboard or smart board Elkonin boxes for modeling AND individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic smartboard letters for teacher:  c, d, e, f, g, h, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, u;  list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read:  2- use; 3- hut, tune, rade, huge; 4-crude, plate, pride; 5- spruce; decodable text: Rube and the Tube and assessment worksheet.



1. Explain why the new idea is valuable.

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 short vowel words with u, like cut, and today we are going to learn about the long u sound, that says /U/ when the e at the end of the word makes the u say its name, like a ghost saying "Oooo!" [show graphic image].  Now let's look at the spelling of /U/ that we'll learn today.  One way to spell /U/ is with the letter u and a signal e at the end of the word to tell me to say U's name. [Write u_e on the board.]  This blank line here means there is a consonant after u, and at the end of the word there is a little silent e signal.


2. Review or teach background knowledge

Say:  Before we learn about one spelling of /U/, let's review u=/u/, the short u sound.  This reminds me of the words, clutch, rut, and crust.  Let's see if you can each write down 3 words on your paper with the /u/ sound  [Check each student's work by walking around the room and looking at their papers].  Very good, everyone!  Now we will talk about the /U/, which is the long u sound.  We need to listen for it in some words.  When I listen for /U/ in words, my mouth makes a small circle like this. [Make vocal gesture for /U/.]  I want you to try this by yourself.  If you hear /U/ say, "Oooo!"  If you don't hear /U/ say, "that's not it."  Is it in hut, cute, tune, chop, prune, run, cure?  [Have children make a circle motion around their lips when they feel their mouth make the /U/ sound, or when u says its name.]


3. Explain how to use new concept or strategy

Say:  Now let's look at the spelling of /U/ that we'll learn today.  We can spell /U/ in a few different ways, but today we are going to use the silent e to make the u say its name. [Write u_e on the board.]  What if I want to spell the word tune?  "I love to listen to the tune of classical music."  Tune means some type of music that you can hear.  To spell tune in letterboxes, first I need to know how many sounds or vocal gestures I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /t/ /U/ /n/.  I need 3 boxes.  I heard that /U/ sound at the middle of the word just before the /n/ so I'm going to put a u in the 2nd box.  The word starts with /t/, that's easy; I need a t.  This is in the first box.  No I need to figure out what goes in the last box.  I think I heard /n/ so I'll put a n right after the u.  Now all we need to do is put a silent e outside the last box so the u can "say its name," or become a long u.  [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word:  /t/ /U/ /n/.]


4. Model the new concept or strategy

Say:  Now I'm going to have you spell some words in letterboxes.  You'll start out easy with two boxes for use.  I can use a paper towel or use the sink.  "Use."  What should go in the first box?  [Respond to children's answers].  What goes in the second box?  Remember that our silent e goes outside the very last box.  In this case, the silent e makes the u say its name.  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 /U/ sound that goes in the second box.  Then listen for the beginning sound and the ending sound.  Here's the word: tube. "I have a tube of toothpaste."  Tube. [Allow children to spell remaining words, giving sentences for each word: 3- hut, rade, huge; 4- crude, plate, pride; 5- spruce.]  Time to check your work.  Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board: t-u-b-e and see if you've spelled it the same way. [Have a volunteer spell it in the letterbox on the front board for children to check their work.]


5. Simple practice under teacher guidance

Say:  Now I am going to let you read the words you've spelled, but first I'll show you how I would read a tough word.  [Display poster with spruce on the top and model reading the word.]  First I see that there's an s and a p at the beginning of the word; that's my signal that those consonants blend together before the vowel to make a consonant digraph.  There's also the consonant r.  Then, there's the vowel u.  At the end of the word, we have an e, which gives me a clue that the u will sound like /U/.  I'm going to use a cover-up critter to get the first part. [Uncover and blend sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.]  /s/ /p/ /r/ = /spr/.  Now I'm going to blend that with the /U/ = /sprU/.  Now all I need is the end, /c/ = /s/.  /sprU/ + /s/ = /sprUs/.  We are also going to read these words that we've spelled, along with an extra word just for fun:  use, rune, tune, huge, prune, crude, flute, pride, spruce, and trupe.  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. Whole texts

Say:  You've done a great job at reading words with our new spelling for /U/:  u_e.  Now we are going to read a book called Rube and the Tube.  This is a story about two friends named Duke and Rube the Donkey.  Duke sells inner tubes at the beach.  One day, Rube decides to take one of the tubes and run away as a prank.  Let's pair up and take turns reading Rube and the Tube to find out what Duke thinks about Rube's joke.  [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress.  After individual paired reading, the class rereads Rube and the Tube aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot--Talk Before You Turn.]


7. Assessment

Say:  That was a fun story!  Who stole the tube from Duke?  Right, Rube took the tube.  I wonder if they ever became friends again?  I certainly hope so!  Before we finish up with our lesson about how to spell u_e = /U/, I want to see how you can solve a reading problem.  On this worksheet, we have some pictures with blanks under each one.  Bud and June are trying to figure out who drew more pictures that sound like each of their names.  Your job is to write the correct words below each picture, using words with either long or short u.  First try looking at all of the pictures.  Then write the correct words in the blanks, while choosing a word from the word bank below.  Reread your answers to see if they make sense.  [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]

                        Word Bank:  rug, drum, flute, bug, bus, cube, tube, mule, bus, tub


Cushman, Sheila, Rube and the Tube, Carson, CA, Educational Insights, 1990, p. 1-9


Bunyard, Kristen, The Tune That Amuses!


Free Phonics Worksheets, Bud and June Long U and Short U Vowel Sounds


Google Images, Animated Ghost,



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