Open Up and Say Ahh

Ridey Foster
Beginning Reading Design



            In order for children to become skillful readers they need to develop their sight vocabulary. Before children can increase their sight vocabulary, they must understand the different sounds and mouth moves of different letters. In this lesson, students are going to learn the correspondence for the short vowel o=/o/. This correspondence will be reinforced through both spoken and written words.


            primary paper, pencils, chart with "It’s odd that Oliver and his octopus, Oscar both have October birthday.", Doc in the Frog by Shelia Cushmen, Educational Insights. (one book for each student), class set of Elkonin boxes, class set of Elkonin letter maipulatives: p, o, t, s, c, k, n, e, f, m, a, g, h, i, l (2),( a set for each child), class set cards with letter o on them, white board and a dry erase maker, crayons, assessment worksheet: picture page with the following pictures on it: dog, cat, fox, lion; clock, airplane, coat, sock, house, frog, cow, stop.


1. Introduce the lesson by telling the students that, writing is a secret code. Each letter in the alphabet has a name, we all know their names. Not only does each letter have its own name they also have their own sound, some letter have a few sounds. Our mouth moves in different ways as we say different letters so the right sounds will come out.  Today we are going to do some activities that will help us figure out how to make the sound for o = /o/.  Once we know how to make the sound with our mouth, we'll be able to spot /o/ in any word.

2. Ask students: I am sure that every ones has been to the doctor for a check-up, right?  When the doctor has you open your mouth really wide as he looks down your throat, what is the noise he asks you to make? That’s right very good, we open up and say ahhhhhhh.  That's the sound that we're going to listening closely for in several different words. Just for a moment pretend I am a doctor, ok class can you say /o/. Try to hear /o/ in the word dot. Let's say dot together really slowly. d-ahhhh-ttttt.  Good, that /o/ sound in dot is what we are looking for today.

3. Let's try a tongue twister (on chart).  "It’s odd that Oliver and his octopus, Oscar both have October birthdays."  Everybody say it three times together.  We are going to say it again, but this time, we are going to stretch out the /o/ at the beginning of each word. As we do it let’s pretend that our finger is a tongue depressor and  put it in front of our mouth like the doctors do. "It’s oooodd that Ooooliver and his oooctopus, Ooooscar both have Oooctober birthdays."  That was great, this time we are going to separate /o/ from the beginning of each word and separate the rest of the word: “It’s /o/ dd that /O/ liver and his /o/ ctopus, /O/ scar both have /O/ ctober birthdays. Great job!

4. I would like for everyone to please take out their letterboxes and open them up so that there are three boxes. I would also like you to please take out your baggie full of letters. Can anyone tell me what goes in each one of these boxes? That's right, we put a letter(s) in each box that has its own mouth move. I would like for everyone to put their letters down and to look up at the dry erase board. I am going to model for what you are going to be doing.  I wanted to spell the word mop. I first have to sound out the word slowly and listen for the different mouth moves, /m/ /o/ /p/.  I am going to put each sound into a box. /m/. I will put an m in the first box, /m/ /o/, /o/ I will put an o in the second box. /m/ /o/ /p/, p goes in the third box. Now I have spelled the word mop. All of the letters that you have in front of you are what you need to spell our next few words. Please listen closely as we start spelling with our letterboxes." I am going to read aloud the words with three phoneme sock, fill, hop, not, mat, pot, fog, leg.

5. Let me help you find /o/ in the word flop. I am going to stretch it out in super slow motion, I want you do be listening for the /o/ that you say at the doctors office. Ff- ffll- ffllo… there it is. I do hear the /o/ in flop.

6. I will ask students the following questions: (pass out a card to each student) Do you hear /o/ in block or brick? strong or weak? pan or pot? even or odd?  stop or freeze? run or jog? dog or puppy? (pass out a card to each student) Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move to say /o/ in some words.  If you hear /o/ in a word, hold up your o card.  If you don’t hear /o/ in a word leave your card down.  (Say the following words one by one so that students have time to respond. Check to make sure each student is responding correctly.)  It’s, odd, Oliver, and, his, octopus, Oscar, both, have, October, birthdays. 

7. Introduce them to the book Doc and the Frog. This story is about a magical wizard who uses his magic wand to change things. He starts off by changing a mop into a… I am not going to ruin the surprise, you have to read Doc and the Frog to find out what he changes with his magic wand. Once you are finished reading I want you to find a partner and take turns reading it through once to each other. If I come by and tap you on the shoulder I want you to read it aloud to me. After they have read the story on their own we are going to come back together. I am going to read the story to them. As I read it they are going to raise their hands when they hear /o/. I am going to have them list those /o/ words in their journals. I am going to have them write about what they would do if they were a wizard with a magic wand. They will be using inventive spelling to do so. They can also draw a picture to go along with their story. I will display their work around the room.

8. For assessment, give each student a picture page with different short /o/ illustrations, as a class I will help the students name each picture.  The students should color the pictures whose names have /o/ in them.


            (1990). Phonics Reader Short Vowel, Doc in the Fog. Carson, Ca (USA): Educational insight.
Murray, B. A. and T. Lesniak.  “The Letterbox Lesson:  A Hands-on Approach for  Teaching Decoding.”  The Reading Teacher.  1999.  644-650.


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