Say /o/
Emergent Literacy Design

Elizabeth Moats



            This lesson is designed to aid children in recognizing the short o sound in spoken words.  Students must be able to recognize phonemes in spoken words before they can accurately go on to recognizing them in print.  This lesson begins by having students become familiar with the sound that short o makes.  This gives them practice that will help them recognize this sound in spoken words as well as blend this phoneme and others in a game at the end of the lesson.

            (Objective): The students will learn to recognize the short o sound in spoken words by identifying the short o sound and practicing the short o mouth move.  They will practice blending phonemes and identifying spoken words that contain the short o sound.



 Poster with "Ollie the octopus is occupied." written on it.

 Poster with the following short o words listed and illustrated: top, mop, pot, sock, doll.

 Primary paper and pencil for each student.

 Poster with primary paper lines labeled rooftop, fence, sidewalk, and ditch.  Have

      lowercase o written several times with arrows indicating how to print it.

 In the Big Top. Educational Insights. 1990.

 Worksheet with 5 questions, each with a picture of a word that has the /o/ sound and one 

       without the /o/ sound.

            1. picture of a mop and a chair

            2. picture of a sock and a mat

            3. picture of a hat and a doll

            4. picture of a box and a cup

            5. picture of a cat and a dog




1.  Begin the lesson by discussing the importance of knowing the different sounds and mouth moves that go along with the letters of the alphabet.  Explain that one of the first steps in learning how to read and spell is listening to the sounds that letters make in the words that we say. 

(Dialogue) "Do you know that we use the sound /o/ in many words that we say everyday? [Point to poster with short o words] Let’s name a few: top, mop, pot, sock, and doll are all words that have the /o/ sound in them.  How about when you go to the doctor and he says, 'Open wide and say….'(let students fill in the blank).  That's right! You have to say /o/.  Let's practice our 'say /o/' sound and pay attention to the mouth moves we make when we say /o/". (Students practice making the /o/ sound.)


2.  "Let's say some words that have our /o/ sound in them.  [Point to the tongue twister poster] Try saying, 'Ollie the octopus is occupied'.  Let's say it again, but this time let's stretch out the /o/ sound in each word, just like I am saying Ooooollie.  Remember:  it's your 'say /o/' sound."  (Class says tongue twister while stretching /o/ out in each word, repeat several times.)


3.  "Now let's practice writing the letter o.  Our /o/ sound is spelled with an o.  Take out a sheet of paper and pencil and practice with me.  [Point to primary paper with o's poster.]  Start at the fence and make a little c, then close it up and you have written your o!  Now practice by writing o's along the first line of your paper.”


4.  "I am going to show you a good way to find the /o/ sound in words.  [Point to the /o/ word and picture poster]  I will look at each picture and say the word that describes it by stretching out each sound I hear.  Tttttoooopppp.  This time I will listen for my 'say /o/' sound.  Ttttooooo….I found it! I can hear my 'say /o/'sound in this word."


5.  "I am going to say some words in a secret code.  If you can figure out what word I am saying in my code, raise your hand and you can tell the class.  The first word is /m/ /o/ /p/".  (Repeat using the words top, hot, pot, cot, knot, doll, sock, lock, and chop.)  Try giving each student the chance to give the answer.


6.  "I will say a word and I want you to raise your hand if you hear the 'say /o/' sound in the word.  Some words will have the /o/ sound and some will not.'  Say the words top, mop, cap, doll, net, lock, cot, pot, chip, giving students time to raise their hands after each word".


7.  "In a minute we will read a story about a circus.  Take out your paper and pencil and write a sentence that tells me what kinds of people or animals you might see at a circus.  You can also add a picture if you would like to".


8.  Ask students if they have ever been to the circus.  Ask them what they might see at the circus.  Tell students that In the Big Top is about the circus.  Read the story to students once, and then read it a second time asking students to listen for words in the story that have the 'say /o/' sound in them.  Stop after each page and allow students to tell the words that had the /o/ sound on each page.  As a class, repeat each word slowly to check for the /o/ sound.  Ask students to stretch out the /o/ sound when they hear it in a word.


9.  For assessment pass out a sheet that has 5 questions. Each question has 2 pictures, one with the /o/ sound in the name, the other without it.  Students should listen for the teacher to say the words on the sheet.  The students should circle each picture that they hear the /o/ sound in.



(Book)  Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teach Decoding: Why and How.  Upper Saddle River, NJ.  Pearson Education, Inc.  2005.  60-82.

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