Beginning Reading Design

Confused Caveman says, Uh, Uh, Uh

Rationale:  It is so important for children to be able to recognize letter-sound correspondences for their future reading success.  When children can achieve this goal, they will have success in decoding, reading and reading comprehension.  Helping children understand the letter-sound correspondence of vowels in spoken words is very important, in this lesson we will learn the correspondence u=/u/.  They will learn this correspondence through learning a memorable sound and motion, and practice with reading and spelling.  This will help the students become more familiar with this correspondence in their reading and writing.


  • Class set of letter boxes
  • Class set of letter manipulatives (b, c, d, g, k, m, n, p, r, s, t , u)
  • Tongue twister printed on a poster in large letters "Up under the umbrella sat an ugly duck"
  • Class set of book:  Bud the Sub.  (1990).   Phonics Readers Short Vowels.  Educational Insights
  • List of words: nut, dog, sun, buzz, cat, bug
  • Pencils and crayons
  • Dry-erase board (Tongue Twister:  Up under the umbrella sat an ugly duck.)
  • Worksheet with pictures:  rug, cup, pin, man, sun, tub, car



1.      Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words.  Today we’re going to learn the short vowel sound /u/. When I say /u/ I think of a confused caveman walking around saying “uh, uh, uh!” Can you scratch your head like a caveman and say “Uh, Uh, Uh?”


2.       Say: Lets all to listen for the “Uh” (scratch my head) 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: bug. I heard the letter u make the /u/ sound and I felt my lips open up like this [open mouth to demonstrate the /u/ sound]. There is a short U in bug. Now you say Bug and practice with your mouth the /u/ sound.  


3.      Say: “Now I want everyone to listen as I read this tongue twister [I will show a poster of the tongue twister], Up under the umbrella sat an ugly duck.  Ok, I want you to say it with me as I point to the words. [Three times] Good Job!  Now when we say it again, I want all of you to clap when you hear the /u/ sound. [Three times] That was wonderful!”


4.      Say: “Now when I say these words, I want you to think quietly to yourself if they have the /u/ sound in them.  If they do, cratch your head like the confused caveman, and if they don’t sit very quietly.”  I will say the words:  nuts, dog, sun, buzz, cat, and bug one at a time. We will go over them as a class and I will ask different students how they know there was a u in that word.


5.      Say: “Everyone please take your letterboxes and letters out. We are going to use the letter boxes to know how many sounds are in the words.  Please look up here while I show you an example.  I have three boxes out, so I know that there are going to be three sounds in my word.  The word I want to spell is cup, alright I hear /c/ /u/ like the caveman and /p/.  Ok that is c in the first box, u in the second box, and t in the third box. I want you to use the letters you have in front of you to spell these words for me.  Everyone open your boxes to three squares.”  The words are sun, duck, nut, run, and pup.  “Now let’s try two four box words” : punt and bump.


6.      Say: “You’ve done a great job at spelling words with our new sound u=/u/. Now we are going to read a book called Bud the Sub. This is the story of a submarine named Bud. Bud the sub goes on an adventure deep in the ocean with Captain Gus. All of the sudden, a tugboat has an accident. Will Bud the sub save the day? We have to read to find out. Everyone please whisper read to yourself and then we will read aloud as a class.” [Once the children have read individually we will read Bud the Sub aloud together, and stop between page turns to discuss the plot.]


7.      “Everyone is now going to get a sheet that has pictures on it.  Look at the pictures and say what it is, if you hear a /u/ sound in the word, then color the picture, if not do not color the picture.”  The pictures are rug, cup, pin, man, sun, pup, car.


Allie Mosher Reading Page: The Short Baby Cries W/a/!

Bud the Sub, 1990. Phonics Readers, Educational Insight.