“Say aahhh….said the doctor”

By: Brittany Bailey

Beginning Reading Stage

Rationale:  Children need explicit, systematic phonics instruction in order to successfully learn to read. This lesson will teach o=/o/, as in “Say aaahhh, said the doctor”.  By becoming phonemically aware, students will be able to decode and eventually blend the vocal gestures and letters to read and speak words.  This activity will promote phoneme awareness through the instruction of a short vowel sound.


-tongue twister poster (Olly the octopus likes the opera.)

-word poster (lot, stop, spot, flop, top, mop)

-primary paper (one piece for each student)

-pencil (one for each student)

-Elkonin boxes (The teacher and all students should have an Elkonin box with four boxes in it.)

-plastic letterbox letters  (The teacher and all students will need a set.) Letters needed:  o,t,l,s,p,f,m

-picture of a person saying “Ahhh” for a doctor

-book:  Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss


1.  “Today we’re going to learn about /o/.  Can anyone think of a word with /o/ in it?  Good job! I can think of a few…October, olive, operation.  Let’s make the /o/ sound together. 

2.  "I’m sure all of you been to the doctor's office once or twice, right?”  What sound do you make when the doctor puts a popsicle stick in your mouth?"  That's right, o=/o/!  Well, today we are going to pretend like we are at the doctor's office.  I am going to be the doctor and you all are going to be my patients. I am going to say, 'Open up and say /o/   and I want you all to make the o=/o/ just as you would if you were at the doctor’s office. Good job! 

3.  “I’m going to say some words, and you tell me which ones have o=/o/ in them.  Do you hear /o/ in tip or top...hop or hip...pop or pal…lift or loft?  Good job!

4.  Hand out Elkonin boxes and letterbox letter sets to each child.  Model how to make a word with a letterbox.  (“Watch how I do this.  I’m going to spell the word ‘top.’  There are three sounds in top /t/, /o/, /p/.  I put the letter t in the first box because the first sound is /t/.  I put the letter o in the second box because the second sound is /o/.  I put the letter p in the third box because /p/ is the last sound in top.”)

5. Good job, that’s t-o-p.  Now I want you to try a few on your own:

-lot [3] 

-stop [4] 

-spot [4]

-flop [4]

-top [3]

-mop [3]

6.  Let’s try to see if we can find the letter o in some of these words in this silly tongue twister.  “Olly the octopus like the opera.”  Everybody say it out loud together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /o/ at the beginning of each word that starts with o and think about the sound you make when you open wide and say “Aaah”.  “Ooooolly the oooctopus likes the ooooopera.”  Try it again, and this time break the /o/ off each word.  “/o/ lly the /o/ ctopus likes the /o/ pera.”  Great Job!  Now do you hear the /o/ in mop or mapLot or letOn or in?

7. I think that everyone knows how to make the letter o, but let’s write several together on our (primary) paper.  Start just below the fence. First little c, then close it up! Good, now make five more on your paper for practice. Great job! I will walk around and make sure everyone made his or her letter o correctly.

8.  Now, I'm going to read Hop on Pop aloud, and I want you to lift your Popsicle stick every time you hear /o/."

Assessment:  Students will be assessed on both the recognizing o= /o/ in spoken words, as well as during the letterbox lesson.  Students will also be provided with a worksheet with pictures that have things with the /o/ phoneme in them, such as an octopus.  (Some of the objects will not have this phoneme in them).  Ask the children to circle the pictures that have the doctor (o=/o/) sound in them with a pencil. 

Works Cited:

Kerns, Megan.  Open Wide and  Say Aaah”.

Fullilove, Casey.  “Open Up and Say /o/!”. 

Dr. Seuss. Hop on Pop. 1963. Random House.

Murray, Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition.

 Murray, Bruce A. and Theresa Lesniak (1999). “Teaching Reading. The Letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.” The Reading Teacher. Vol. 52, No.6. pp.644-650.

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