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Beginning Reading Design

                                       "UHHH??" Said the Caveman 

By: Mary Hope McGehee

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence u=/u/. In order to be able to read, children must recognize the different sounds that vowels make because vowels are apart of every word in our vocabulary. Students will learn a meaningful representation (caveman saying Uhh?), 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/



1.     Primary Paper

2.     Pencils

3.     Graphic Image of confused man, Uhh?

4.     Whiteboard or smart board Elkonin boxes for modeling

5.     Individual Elkonin Boxes for each student

6.     Letter manipulative for each child (25 sets): t, u, g, p, r ,s ,h ,l, c ,k ,m

7.     Magnetic Letters for teacher:

8.     Decodable text for each student: Bud the Sub by Phonics Readers, Volume 10 Copyright, 1990.

9.     Assessment worksheet for each student

10.  Dry Erase boards for every student

11.  Poster list of words that contain the phoneme /u/.



1.     Say: Today we are going to focus on the sound that this letter makes. Teacher should draw the letter U up on the board. What letter is this? Very good! This is the letter U and the letter U make the /u/ sound. Today we are going to learn about the letter U and the sound it makes. When I say /u/ I think of a funny caveman saying “UGH??” and scratching his head (show the image of the caveman).


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 /u/ my mouth is open and my tongue is pressing down (Make vocal gesture for /u/). I will show you first: rug. I hear /u/ says its name and I felt my mouth open and my tongue press downward making the /u/ sound. There is a short U in rug. Now I am going to see if it is in the word pig. Hmm, I didn’t hear the u sound say its name and my mouth did not open while my tongue was pressing down. Now it is your turn to try! If you hear the /u/ sound say uhhh, what. If you do not hear it I want you to say No! It is in run? Continue to ask this question with these words: dog, dug, bass, buss, fun, win.


3.     Say: Now we need to look at the spelling of /u/ that we will learn today. In order to spell the sound we hear for /u/ we simply use the letter u. Everyone write a letter U on your draw erase boards and show it to me. Now I am going to model how to spell a word using letterboxes (the teacher should use the whiteboard or smart board so all students can see). If I wanted to spell the word tug, I notice that I have made three mouth movements. When saying the word tug, this would be why I have three letterboxes drawn. The first sound is /t/ so the letter t will go in the first letterbox. The second sound I hear is the /u/ sound we have been talking about today. So the letter u will go in the second box. What is the last sound you hear in the word tug? /g/ very good! So we will put the g in the third letterbox.


4.     Say: Now I am going to give you a chance to spell some words using your own letterboxes (the teacher should pass out the pre-made baggies of appropriate letter tiles and Elkonin boxes.)  You will start out easy with two letterboxes for the word up. Up is a simple direction going towards the sky. “Today I will pull up a flower from my moms flower garden”. What should go in the first letterbox? (respond to children’s answers). What goes in the second letterbox? I will check you spelling as I walk around the room (make sure that all students are putting a u in one box and a p in the other). You are going to need three letterboxes for your next word. Remember to listen for the /u/ sound in each word. The word is rush, I was in a rush to get out the door this morning and forgot my lunch. (Allow children to spell the word). Time to check your work (model with the letters and letter boxes). Do you see how I split the letters up in my letterboxes? See if you spelled it the same way. Lets try another word with three letterboxes. What about the word luck, I hope that the four-leaf clover I found brings me a lot of luck. (Have a volunteer spell the word on the front board for all students to see, correct if wrong). Repeat this step for each new word. Listen to see if you hear the /u/ sound in this word before you spell it: Fan. I ran to catch the bus this morning. Did you hear the /u/ sound? Right. You did not. We heard the short a sounding like /a/ in the word ran. Now let’s try four phonemes, blush. I blushed when I a gift from my valentine. One more and then we are done with spelling. Your final word is rub. I have to rub my sunscreen on when I am at the beach.


5.     Say: Now we need to read the words that we have just spelled. First I am going to model reading a word. (show poster with rub on the top and model how to read the word.) First I see the U in the middle of the word. That is my signal that it makes the /u/ sound. Now I am going to use my cover up critter to get the first part. The first part says /r/-/r/. Now we are going to blend this first part with the /u/ sound. We hear it say /r/-/r/-/u/-/u/. Now we just need the ending. /b/. If we read the word all together we hear the word rub. (Now go through the list giving every student a chance to read one of the words).


6.     Say: I am so proud of each of you for using such great reading and spelling skills today. Now we are going to read a book called Bud the Sub.


7.     Book Talk: “Bud is a submarine and loves to travel in the water. Gus, his boss, takes care of him and takes in places by moving his knobs to help him go underneath the water. One day, a tugboat is hit by big glacier, and Gus runs Bud to go save the people on it. Do Bud and Gus save the people on the tugboat? Let’s read and find out!”


8.     Have student’s pair up with another student and take turns reading each page. The teacher can walk around the room to monitor the students. Let students know that even if they finish they can read the book again for extra practice. When all of the students are done reading with their partners read the text as a whole group. The teacher should stop throughout the text to discuss the main idea, characters, thoughts, and the plot.


9.     Say: You have all truly done a great job today. Before we finish our lesson I have a worksheet to pass out to each of you. I want to make sure that you understand the letter u and the /u/ sound it makes. (Show the worksheet smart board while explaining it to students). On this worksheet, you will look at the picture and figure out which letters you should select to create the correct word. After you have select the letters you think form the correct work I want you to write that word in the blank. (Collect worksheets to evaluate each child).





Alex Kingsford, /u/says UHHHHHH:



Assessment Worksheet, Easy Reading Worksheets: Just Mommies:



Caveman illustration:


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