Say Ahh went the Doc

Emergent Literacy Design


Jamie Braswell



In order for children to learn to read and spell, they must be aware of the units of sound within a spoken word, and then be able to recognize the letters that represent them. Short vowels are perhaps the most difficult sounds to learn. This lesson will focus on the short o (o = /o/) correspondence. Students will learn to recognize this correspondence in spoken words through a memorable representation as well as through the written letter symbol. Students will also have practice in pulling the /o/ sound out of a word.



-  Primary paper and pencil; sentence strip with the tongue twister printed on it: Odd Oscar’s octopus had an operation in October.

-  Labeled picture cards that correspond to riddles

-  Doc in the Fog, by: Sheila Cushman, Educational Insights.

-  Assessment worksheet: Picture page with the following sets of pictures: dog, cat, bird; stop, cab, jet; vest, sock, mat; frog, ring, cap.



1. The lesson will be introduced by explaining to the children that our language can be written using a type of code, but this type of code goes along with how our mouth moves when we say words. Today we are going to learn about the /o/ sound, and notice how our mouth moves when we say /o/.


2. Have you ever been to the doctor and he wanted to look at your throat? What did the doctor ask you to say? When I go to the doctor, he asks me to say ‘ahh’ when he puts the stick to my mouth. Everyone should now pretend they are at the doctor, and the group should say the sound at the same time (several times). Now stick out your tongue, use your imagination and pretend you are at the doctor—put your thumb to your mouth and say /o/.


3. We are now going to try a tongue twister (have the tongue twister printed on a sentence strip): Odd Oscar’s octopus had an operation in October. Practice the sentence whole group several times. Now we are going to stretch out the /o/ at the beginning of the words: Ooodd Oooscar’s oooctopus had an oooperation in Oooctober. Now this time break off the /o/ at the beginning of each word and separate it from the rest of the word: /O/dd /O/scar’s /o/ctopus had an /o/peration in /O/ctober.


4. Using the primary paper and pencil, explain to kids that the o is the letter we use to represent /o/. We are going to practice writing it. We start at the fence, and without lifting our pencil, we circle on the way back up to the fence where you started. Everyone hold up your letter o. Now remember that when you see the letter o in words, that is your signal to say /o/, the stick-out your tongue doctors sound. When you hear /o/, that is your signal to write o.


5. I am going to say a riddle and hold up two pictures that can be possible answers. One picture will have the /o/ sound and one will not. Call on students to answer the riddles. Once the answer is found, students should repeat the word and stretch out the vowel sound. A few example riddles are:

I am thinking of something that we use to scrub floors. It has the /o/ sound in the middle. Is it a mop or a rag?

I am thinking of something that you do when you exercise. It has the /o/ sound in the middle. Do you jog or swim?


6. Read ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Doc in the Fog and discuss the story. Now read it again, and explain to the kids that each time they hear a word with /o/ in it they should give a thumbs up. Have the students write a message on the following topic: If you were Doc the Wiz, what would you tap and change? (Students should use invented spelling.) They may draw a picture and describe the message.


7. For Assessment: Have the students complete the picture page. The picture page will have four rows of three pictures and the students should circle the picture whose names have /o/.



Anderson, Jenni. Say ah…OK, Doc.

Eldredge, J. Lloyd. (1995). Teaching and decoding in holistic classrooms. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill. Pg. 63-65.

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