Ollie the Octopus at the Opera

Anna Palmer
Emergent Reading

Rationale:  In order for young children to understand phoneme awareness they must first learn phonemes and then their letter correspondences.  The phoneme o=/o/ is used frequently in the English language.  There is the short o=/o/ and the long o=/O/ and children need to be able to distinguish between them.

Materials: 1) Primary paper, pencil, and crayons 2) Chart with tongue twister: “Oliver had an operation in October and Oscar gave him an orange octopus” 3) Worksheet with objects that start with the o=/o/ sound and some that do not 4) Book: In the Big Top by: Shelia Cushman, Insights  5) Cards with an /o/ on one side and a question mark on the other side.


1) Writing is a secret code and the tricky part is learning what letters stand for.  We make mouth moves as we say words.  Today we are going to work on the mouth move /o/.

2) Have you ever tried to sing opera music?  Remember the way you open your mouth wide and say “OOOHHHHH.”  That is the way we open our mouths to say the /o/ sound.  We will all practice saying “OOOOHHHHH.”  Let’s say octopus, o-o-o-ctopus.  See, that /o/ sound makes your mouth open right up!

3) We will all read the tongue twister on the chart.  I will read the tongue twister first and then we will all read it together.  “Oliver had an operation in October and Oscar gave him an orange octopus.”  Now let’s all say it together. (we will all say it together)  Now let’s say it again and stretch out the /o/ at the beginning of the words: “OOOOliver had an ooooperation in OOOOctober and OOOOscar gave him an ooooctopus.”  Very good! You all looked like opera singers with your mouths open wide!

4) I will ask everyone to take out their primary paper and a pencil. We can use the letter o to spell o=/o/. I am going to show you how to draw an o. Everybody put their pencil on the dotted line.  Start there making a curved line down to the bottom line and then, without lifting your pencil, curve another line up to where you started.  Let me see everyone’s o.  When I see yours and say it is ok, continue and make a whole line of o’s just like the one you just drew.  Now when you see an o, you will know to open your mouth and say /o/ like an opera singer!

5) I will say sets of words and call on students that can tell me which word has /o/ in it and how they knew.  Do you hear /o/ in shout or shut? off or in? orange or apple? Stop or run? long or little? Hot or cold?

6)  Now I will pass out the cards with u/? to each student.  Now, I am going to see if you can spot the /o/ sound in some words.  Show me the o if you hear /o/ and the question mark if you do not.  I will give the words one by one.  Oliver,had,an,operation,in,October,and,Oscar,gave,him,an,orange,octopus.

7) I will read In the Big Top and then talk about the main idea in the story.  I am going to read you a story and I want you to pay close attention to words that begin with /o/. (just read through the book this time) Alright, I am going to read it again and this time I want you to raise your hand when you hear an /o/ word and I will write it on the board.  Now I want you all to use these words to write a message and draw a picture to go along with it.  Let’s make them nice and neat so that we can display your work!

8) To assess their learning, I will have a sheet with pictures and have them circle the pictures that have the o sound.  This will help me to know that they can pronounce the words and recognize the phonemes.

Reference: Eldredge, Lloyd J. (1995). Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Wallach, M.A., & Wallach, L. (1976). Teaching all children to read. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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