Beginning Reading Design

The Pig in the Yucky Mud

Rationale: In this lesson, students will learn about the short vowel correspondence /u/=u.  It’s necessary that students recognize the spellings of words that map out word pronunciations. This lesson will teach students to recognize, pronounce, spell, and read words that contain the correspondence /u/. The pig in the yucky mud (emphasis on the short u, "yuuuucky muuuud") will teach them a meaningful representation, and a letterbox lesson will help them spell and read words containing the correspondence, as well as read a decodable book that is consistent with the /u/=u correspondence.


Materials: Image of the pig playing in mud, cover up critters, plastic letter manipulatives for each student, letterboxes for students, letterboxes drawn on whiteboard or on smart board for teacher, magnetic or otherwise letters for teacher (b, u, n, r, b, l, I, t, d, a, o, c, k, s, p) The Mutt and the Bug (decodable book) and these words printed on a poster or written on whiteboard for students to read: bun, rub, lit, dab, lock, sun, cut, pluck, spun, us, Short U Color Worksheet (link at the bottom of the page).




1. Say: The code that tells us how to pronounce words can be tricky, and for us to be expert readers, we have to learn this code so we can pronounce words. It’ll be tricky, but I know we can do it. We’ve already talked about most of our other short vowels, like o and dog, so today we’re going to learn about short U and its sound. Short U sounds like “uhh,” so when we think of short U we can think of a pig rolling around in yucky mud [show students the image of the pig and mime a face saying "yuuuucky"].


2. Say: We’re going to learn the spelling of /u/ but first we need to listen for it in words and see if we can hear it. When we listen for /u/ in words, we hear /u/ say uhhh like yucky, and our lips are open like we’re disgusted [mime a disgusted face]. Our tongue lays flat in our mouths and our lips are open. [Model saying “uhhh” with lips parted] When we read words with /u/ in them, we need to listen for the “uhh” and see if our mouths are open and tongues are flat. There’s a short /u/ in under. Do you think surf has short /u/? Let’s see. Suuuurf. No, I don’t hear “uh” and my tongue doesn’t lie flat in my mouth like in uhh. Now, I want you to try and find short /u/ in some words. Remember, we want to listen for “uh” and feel our tongues lying flat and our mouths open just a little bit. Remember our pig in the yuuucky muuud! Do we hear uh in slap, mug, dip, fun, burp, lung? [Have the students give a thumbs up whenever they hear “uh” for short /u/.]


3. "Now that you know how to listen for short /u/, we will look at the spelling of short /u/. Short u is usually in front of and/or behind a consonant, and there aren’t usually any vowels after it or before it. Let’s take out our letterboxes. I know we all remember how to use our letter boxes, but I’m going to model one to remind you how it works. Okay, I’ll spell “under.”   Now, we hear “u-n-d-er”, and that’s four phonemes, so we know we’ll need four letter boxes. What do I think the first letter is? I remember my pig in yuuuuucky muuuud…I know! It’s /u/! U goes in the first letter box. I know u says “uhh” and I hear that in the beginning of the word, so I’ll put that in the first box. Next comes “nn” and what do we think that is? Right, "n!" N goes in the next box. Next, I hear /d/. . I think that’s a d, so I'll put it in the next box. The next sound I hear is /er/. Now this sound is kind of tricky because it has two letters, e-r. So we will put both of those letters in the last box. That makes sense, that’s how you spell "under". [Point to letters and stretch out the word as you go along, and then read the word at a normal pace.]


4. Does everyone understand? Great. Now, you’re going to try spelling some words in letter boxes. You can do it, and I’ll help you through it. Our first word is “bun”. The dancer wore her hair in a bun for the recital. We need three boxes for this word. What do you think should go in the first box? [Correct their answers if incorrect, respond if they have questions or if their answers are correct.] Right, we know /b/ says b, so that goes in the first box. What comes next? Remember our yucky mud. That’s right, u comes next. Go ahead and put the u in the next box. What letter says “nnn” like now or not? That’s right! “n!” N goes in the last box. Excellent work. [Walk around to check spellings] [Continue with this process for the three phoneme words; when you get to the four phoneme words, explain that these words might be  a little tougher, but that we’ll work through it together].


5. You all did a great job spelling today, and now we’re going to do some reading. We’re going to read the words we just spelled in our letter boxes. We know short u says uhh like yuuucky muuud and it’s followed by or follows a consonant. Let’s try to keep that in mind when we’re reading our words from the board. [Model reading by decoding with a cover up critter on the board with the first word, decode and then blend the sounds together.] Okay, so now we all know what we’re going to do. Let’s read all these words out loud together. [Point to each word as they read them all at once. After reading in unison, call on students one by one to read one word from the list out loud.]


6. I’m so proud of how hard you’ve all been working. You did a great job spelling and reading our new words for short /u/. Now that we’ve worked on our spellings, we’re going to read a new book called The Mutt and the Bug. This book is about a pug and bug who are in a hut together. The bug wants a hug, but the pug does not want to give him one. We have to read the book to find out if the bug ever gets a hug. [Have students pair up and read the book out loud by alternating pages while the teacher walks around the room and monitors progress as well as providing scaffolding if necessary. After everyone is finished, the class will reread the story out loud with the teacher and take breaks between pages to talk about what happened.]


7. I'm glad that the bug finally got a hug, even if was from a bear cub and not the pug! So now we’re going to work on a worksheet that will review short /u/. I want you to color all of the words with short /u/brown and any words that do not have short /u/ red. I’ll collect the worksheet when it’s time to pack up. Great work today! [Pass out worksheet, walk around monitoring progress. Collect assignment to check progress.]



Addie Herrlin, "Uh, I Understand!":!beginning-reading-design/c9lc

Short U Worksheet:

The Mutt and the Bug, decodable book: