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Sometimes a Vowel, Sometimes a Consonant: <\mathrm{u}>

1. The letter <\mathrm{u}> is usually a vowel, but it is a consonant when in comes right after the letter <q>, as in queen, quick, or unique. Look carefully at the letter in front of the <\mathrm{u}> in each of the following words and then sort the words into the two groups:

&\text{queen} && \text{quick} && \text{should} && \text{study} && \text{around}\\&\text{unique} && \text{you} && \text{duck} && \text{funny} && \text{question}\\&\text{quiet} && \text{full} && \text{blue} && \text{earthquake} && \text{squirrel}

Words in which the
comes right after the letter <q> does not come right after the letter <q>
queen earthquake you blue
unique question full study
quiet squirrel should funny
quick duck around

2. Fill in the blanks: The letter <\mathrm{u}> is usually a vowel, but it is a consonant when it comes right after the letter <q>.

3. The letter <\mathrm{u}> is a also consonant anytime it spells the sound that is usually spelled with a <w>, the sound you hear at the beginning of will and won't. When <\mathrm{u}> comes right after <q>, it often spells that <w> sound. Here are the seven words you just found in which <\mathrm{u}> comes right after <q>:

&\text{queen} && \text{unique} && \text{quiet} && \text{quick}\\&\text{earthquake} && \text{question} && \text{squirrel}

The letter <\mathrm{u}> spells the <w> sound in six of these words. Find those six words and write them into the following table:

&{queen} && {earthquake} \\&{quiet} && {question}\\&{quick} && {squirrel}

4. In a few words <\mathrm{u}> spells the <w> sound right after the letter <g>. Listen carefully to the sound spelled by the <\mathrm{u}> in each of the following words and then sort the words into the two groups:

&\text{language} && \text{gum} && \text{jaguar} && \text{penguin}\\&\text{gun} && \text{begun} && \text{gull} && \text{argue}

Words in which the letter
spells the <w> sound does not spell the <w> sound
language gun gull
jaguar gum argue
penguin begun

5. Fill in the blanks: The letter <\mathrm{u}> is usually a vowel , but it is a consonant whenever it comes right after the letter <q>. It is also a consonant whenever it spells the [w] sound as it does in the word Answers will vary.

6. The four letters that are always vowels are \underline{<a>}, <e>, \underline{<i>} and <o>

7. The three letters that are sometimes vowels and sometimes consonants are \underline{<u>}, <w>, and <y>. Did you remember the pointed brackets?

Word Find. Find the twenty words in the puzzle. Each word contains the letter <e>. As you find them, draw a circle around each one and check it off the list, as we have done with place:

&\text{place}\surd && \text{close}\surd  && \text{next}\surd && \text{write}\surd && \text{queen}\surd \\&\text{below}\surd && \text{new}\surd  && \text{quiet}\surd && \text{yellow}\surd  && \text{years}\surd\\&\text{language}\surd && \text{men}\surd  && \text{went}\surd && \text{white}\surd && \text{they}\surd \\&\text{penguin}\surd && \text{enough}\surd && \text{orange}\surd && \text{home}\surd && \text{were}\surd

Teaching Notes.

Items 1-5 Notice that in our analysis <\mathrm{u}> is a consonant whenever it follows the letter <q>, whether it spells the sound [w] (as in quit) or not (as in mosquito).

Items 6-7 A case can be made for treating <h> as a vowel in words like John, ohm, and dahlia (and in interjections like eh, oh, and ah) where it is clearly involved in the spelling of the vowel sound. But this use of <h> is very rare and never complicates spelling rules, so it seems better not to make more complex an already fairly complex analysis.

Word Find. Word Finds are perhaps the most passive of the different reinforcers. Again they are designed to give the students some additional work with words and concepts from the current lessons. They can also help students come to recognize that certain strings of letters are common and others are not. Besides, students seem to enjoy Word Finds a great deal.

You might warn the students that words only run left-to-right and top-to-bottom. There are no (intentionally) hidden words that run from right-to-left or bottom-to-top or diagonally. It seems better to use only the two directions in which we normally read written English text. There are usually some other acceptable words that are not on the list. Students who find any might well be congratulated for their sharp eyes. This Find, for instance, contains unlisted we and sew with <e>s. And there are a number of unlisted shorter words contained within the listed words: lace and ace in place, for instance, and me in home and men.

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1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

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Feb 23, 2012

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Sep 12, 2013
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