“The Doctor’s In…Say “AAAHHH!”


Beginning Reading Design

Kelly Roberts

Rationale: It is critical for beginning readers to understand that letters map out the sounds in spoken words. Vowel sounds are often the most difficult for children to learn, so they should have as much experience and practice with them as possible. This lesson will help students understand the correspondence o = /o/ by illustrating the concept with memorable tools used in showing them the /o/ sound in spoken and written words.


·        Doc in the Fog  for each student

·        Chart with the tongue twister on it (Ollie the octopus is on top of the cot)

·        Primary paper and pencils for each student

·        Letterboxes for each student

·        Set of oversized letterbox and letters (teacher copy for board)

·        Plastic letters for each student (o, p, s, c, k, g, t, l, m, f, r, t, n)

·        Picture page with illustrations [pot, mop, fish, frog, map, tot, plug, block, crop, olive, box]

·        Chalk and chalkboard


1.Introduce the lesson by explaining that it is very important in reading to know the sounds that different letters make when we see them in words.  “Today we are going to learn a fun way to remember what the letter o says in a word.  Has anyone ever been to the doctor? When the doctor wanted to look at the back of your throat, what sound did he ask you to make?  ‘AAAHHH’, Right!  That’s the sound that the short o makes.  Now, let’s all pretend that we are at the doctor with a sore throat.  Remember to make the sound when you do it; ‘AAAHHH!’  Good job! 

 2.  “Now, let’s all look at a tongue twister.  Everybody read it together.  (Ollie the octopus is on top of the cot)  Great!  This time when we say it, every time we hear the /o/ sound, let’s all open our mouths like we are getting our throats checked and stretch out the /o/ sound.  (ooollie the oooctopus is oon tooop of the coot)…Good job!”

 3.  Have the students tell if they hear the /o/ sound in different words.  “Do you hear /o/ in:  on under? Lot or little?  Tap or top?”

4.Distribute Elkonin letterboxes and letter tiles to each student.  Have them spread the letters out on their desks.  [Have a big model that will be taped on the board for them all to see, as well as letters.]  “Now we are going to spell words that have the /o/ sound in them.  Each of your boxes will have only one sound or mouth move in it.  Watch me as I spell the word fog. F-f-f-o-o-o-g-g-g.  It helps to say the word so you can hear all of the sounds.  The first sound I hear in fog is what?  /f/.  Right.  So, now I put the f in the first box.  Then what sound do I hear?  [Act like at the doctor’s office]  Right!  I hear /o/, so I’ll put the o in the next box.  What is the last sound I hear?  /g/.  Good job!  Now I put the g in the last box.  Let’s read our word.  F-o-g.  Great!  We have just spelled the word fog!  Let’s see if you can spell these words that have /o/ in them.”  Have students use the letterboxes and their letters to spell the following words:  3 phonemes –pop, sock, got.  4 phonemes – clock, smog, flop.  5 phonemes –strong, frost, stomp.  Tell the students exactly how many boxes they will need to use for each set of words and why.  “Now we’re all going to practice reading and spelling words with the /o/ sound.  Try to spell them the way I just showed you.  When you’re finished, raise your hand and I’ll come check what you have done!”

 6.  Pass out copies of Doc in the Fog“Today we are going to read Doc in the Fog.  Have you ever wanted to have special powers? Well, this book is about Doc, a wizard who has a magical wand. He can turn any object into anything he desires. What do you think he transforms everyday objects into? You have to read to find out!”  Give each student a copy of the book and have them read to each other. Walk around listening and monitoring to all students.  If students encounter a problem reading, they will raise their hand and wait for teacher assistance. When they are done, ask them what words they read that had the /o/ sound in them and these words on the board. 

7. Have students write a message on their own paper explaining their favorite thing to do during the weekend. Say to students: Make sure you use at least 3 words with the /o/ sound in your message.

8. For assessment, pass out the picture page and as a class name each picture.  Have the students work independently to circle the pictures that have the /o/ sound in their names. While students are working, have them individually read their message to you so that you can truly assess their understanding of the correspondence.


Click here to Constructions.

Murray, B. A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

(1990). Phonics Reader Short Vowel Doc in the Fog. Carson, CA (USA), St Albans, Herts. (UK): Educational Insights.