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How to Write the Alphabet: Gg Nn Uu

Updated on February 2, 2016

A Gnu Story


Writing Lesson Plan: Gg Nn Uu

Whether you are teaching young students to write in their native tongue, or teaching the English alphabet to your English learning students, this lesson can help you.

Lesson Target: Beginners at reading and writing the English alphabet

Prior Lessons Needed: Ss Ii Tt Aa Rr Mm. While each writing worksheet can stand alone, the reading lesson builds on previously learned letters. To start with Ss Ii Tt, go here.

Lesson Focus: writing and reading

  • Learn letters: Gg, Nn, Uu
  • Practice writing with writing worksheet
  • Practice reading with story

Note: For reasons why the letters taught aren't in alphabetical order, see other alphabet lessons. Also, I am well aware of another obvious word that can be spelled with the letters 'Gg Uu Nn'. Use your own discretion as to whether you think it a good idea to teach that word or not. It is a good vocabulary word, but depending on your location and the age of your students it might be problematic. I would advise teaching it in a list of other words as a pronunciation exercise but not spending a lot of time on it.

Writing Worksheet


Learning the letters: Gg Nn Uu

If you don't know what your students need to be able to recite for each letter, see the lesson for Ss Ii Tt. For these specific letters, there are a few new things you can introduce:

  1. GNU is a good lesson to begin teaching about silent letters, like the 'g' in the word 'gnu'. If you know your student's native language, or have a helper who does, you can explain that sometime in English, a letter is silent. You can try to explain that sometimes a silent letter is just there to tell you how to pronounce other letters, as in the word 'sign', or in other words they will see when they learn 'e', or because once we used to pronounce a letter and now we don't but the spelling is the same. Or you can explain that it is just the way it is in English.

    If you can't easily explain the 'why' for why the g of gnu is silent, don't bother. Just teach that it is. You can do this by teaching 'gn' as a letter group that makes the sound 'n'. Other examples of 'gn' include gnu, sign, reign, align, malign, gnat, foreign or gnarly.
  2. With the addition of GNU, you can now have your students read both -ing words and un- words. This means teaching longer words, which can give your students a morale boost that they can read not only long words but entire sentences, like 'I am running'. To teach longer words, it helps to show them in pieces. Perhaps have them identify the 'sit' part of 'sitting' or the 'run' part of 'running'.
  3. With the addition of longer words, you can even introduce syllables, or you can wait a lesson or two for when your students don't have other new concepts to learn, like silent letters. Another concept that English learners might need to learn while learning syllables is word stress. If you don't know anything about word stress, there is a lesson that can help you here and explain why it is so important for English learners to know. That said, don't cram too much into one lesson. This isn't really a lesson on pronunciation, it's a lesson on reading/writing, even if pronunciation is an important part. Try to teach too much in one go and your students won't learn any of it.

Note that this is not the best moment to teach contractions like I'm or it's. Between the introduction of silent letters and two syllable words, your students have enough new concepts without throwing in contractions.

Writing Worksheet

You can find a copy of the writing worksheet here. To use it, simply print the worksheet and give it to your students. You should be able to print by right clicking with your mouse on the document and selecting 'print'. The worksheet includes writing practice for each of the letters, instructions on how to write the letters, and a picture illustrating a word that begins with each letter.

Let's Read!


Reading Gg Nn Uu

This reading lesson builds on already learned letters: S I T A R M. It can also stand alone but your students will be able to read very few words on their own.

You can find the story worksheet here.

There are two ways to use the story worksheet:

  1. Have your students find and identify the target letters. You can also use this as review time and have your students identify previously learned letters. Students can point to the letter 's' or 'm', and then underline or highlight in some way the letters 'Gg Nn Uu'.
  2. By this point, if you have taught these lessons in order, your students should be able to read quite a few of the words. Pre-teaching some of the words will help them to learn, particularly confusing words like 'gnu' with its silent letter, or 'running', which is quite a long word to come upon. You can teach a group of -ing words and practice some good grammar/vocabulary at the same time! Some -ing words your students can read are 'running, sitting and eating (another example of a letter group, 'ea' is pronounced ee).

    Pre-teaching reading words has the added benefit of pre-teaching the vocabulary for the story, so your students can more easily understand the story. You can provide pictures for new words, or if you know your student's native language you might translate, though some schools frown upon over-use of native languages in an English classroom.
  3. Read the story together. You read some of the words, but when you reach a word that only contains the target letters, your students will read that word. You can have them read only the 'gnu' words (pretty much, only the word gnu) or you can have them also read the words with 'sitarm'. You can read through the entire story once by yourself first, and then read it together, or you can jump right in to the group reading.


Now that your students know Gg Nn Uu, what's next? Keep going through the alphabet!

Go back to Aa Rr Mm

Next lesson: Bb Ee Dd

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