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Beginning Reading: Confused Dug the Caveman Says Uh?

“Confused Dug the Caveman says Uh?”

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Kristin Byrd


Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the short vowel correspondence u = /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 which contain u = /u/. They will learn a meaningful representation (caveman saying “uh”), 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/.


Materials: Graphic image of caveman, cover-up critter, whiteboard or SmartBoard letter boxes (for modeling) and individual Elkonin letterboxes (for each student), letter manipulatives for each student and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: r, u, b, s, t, n, g, c, k, d, m, p, and h; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: rub, bus, bunt, stung, truck, dust, scrub, stump and scrunch; decodable text Bud the Sub, and assessment worksheet.



 1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the most important program that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel words with a, e, i, and o but today we’re going to learn our last short vowel sound /u/. When I say /u/ I think of a confused caveman grunting “uh, uh, uh!” [show graphic image]. Now let’s say it together and rub our head, “uh, uh, uh!”


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 the letter u make the /u/ sound and my lips open up like this. [Make vocal gesture for /u/.] I’ll show you first: rub. I heard u make the /u/ sound and I felt my lips open like this [open mouth and make /u/ sound with lips] There is a short u in rub. Now let me see if it’s in shoe. Hmm, I didn’t hear Dug’s Caveman /u/ and I felt my lips tighten, not open up. Now you try. If you hear /u/ say, “Uh, uh, uh,” like Dug the Caveman. If you don’t hear /u/ say, “That isn’t Dug.” Is it in sun, snow, umbrella, race, run, jog, cup, glass? [Have children raise their eyebrows when they say short /u/.]


3. Say: What if I want to spell the word rub? “Dug the Caveman likes to rub his head.” Rub means to move your hand back and forth. To spell rub in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word. To figure out how many phonemes I have, I’m going to stretch the word out and count: /r//u//b/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /u/ sound just before the /b/ so I’m going to put a ‘u’ in the 2nd box. The word starts with /r/, that’s easy; I need an r. I have one empty box now. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /r//u//b/.] The missing one is /b/. Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with luck on the top and model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the beginning letter l; that letter says /l/. Now I’m going to put middle letter with it: l-u /lu/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /lu/ /k/. Oh, luck, like “Good luck today at your game!”


4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with three boxes for bus. A bus is a large vehicle that carries passengers by road. “I ride home on the school bus after school each day.” What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers.] What goes in the second box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need four letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /u/ sound. Here’s the word: bunt, did he bunt the ball to get on base; bunt. [Allow children to spell remaining words, giving sentences for each word: stung, truck, dust, scrub, stump and scrunch.] 


5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [Show the words bus, bunt, stung, truck, dust, scrub, stump, scrunch, and extra words gust and munch, and the pseudoword bung. Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]


6. Say: You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /u/ = u. Now we are going to read a book called Bud the Sub. This is a story about a submarine named Bud. Bud the sub goes on an adventure in the deep ocean with Captain Gus. Then, a tugboat has an accident. Can Bud the sub save the day? I guess we have to read to find out [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 Bud the Sub chorally, stopping between page turns to discuss the story.]



7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson on how to spell /u/ = u, I want to see if you can pick out the words that say /u/. On this worksheet, you will circle the words that have short u in them and then list them in alphabetical order. Your job is to look in the box of word choices, and decide which words do you hear /u/ in. First try reading the word and see if you hear the “uh” sound that Dug the Caveman makes. If you hear it, write it down. Check your answers to make sure they’re correct. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]




 Lesson Reference: Courtney Boyd, Uhh? Said Dug the Caveman:https://sites.google.com/site/msboydsreadingpage/home/-uhh-said-dug-the-caveman

Book: Cushman, Sheila. Bud the Sub. China: Educational Insights, 1990. 1-8.

Worksheet: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/phonics/mc/u-short/index.shtml

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