Jenn Kanute
Emergent Literacy

Open Wide

Rationale:  To learn to read and spell words, children need the alphabetic insight that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  Before children can match letters to phonemes, they have to recognize phonemes.  Of all the phonemes, short vowels are probably the hardest to identify.  This lesson will help children identify /o/ (short o).  They will learn to recognize /o/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding /o/ in words.

Materials:  Primary paper and pencil, chart with “Oliver often tops his hot dog with honey,” “Doc in the Fog” (Phonics Readers; Short Vowels), picture cards with various objects on them (some containing the /o/ sound like pot, top, doll, hot, cot etc.), riddles for the phoneme matching game.

Procedures:  1.  Introduce lesson by explaining that writing is a secret code.  The hard part is learning what letters stand for the mouth moves that we make when we say them.  Today we are going to work on finding the mouth move /o/.  You might not be able to find /o/ in words right away but as you learn it, you will get better at spotting /o/ in all sorts of words.

2. Ask students: “Have you ever been to the dentist and been told to open wide?  Did you say /o/ when you opened your mouth?  That is the mouth move we are looking for in words.  I will show you have to spot /o/ in a word.  Stretch it out and see if you say /o/, like when you open wide for the dentist.  I will try top, ttt-o-o-o-op.  Did you hear the /o/ in the middle of that word?”

3. “Let’s try a tongue twister (chart).  “Oliver often topped his hotdog with honey.”  Now let’s say it again and this time, stretch the /o/ in the words.  “Oooliver oooften tooops his hoootdooog with hoooney.”  Nice work!”

4. (Students will now use the primary paper and pencil).  “We can use the letter o to spell /o/.  Let’s write it.  Start at the fence line and make a circle that goes down to the grass and back up to the fence.  I want to see everyone’s o.  After I see your o, I want you to make a row of o’s just like it.  When you see the letter o all by itself in a word, that is the signal to say /o/.”

5. Call on students to answer:  “Do you hear /o/ in pot or pat?  Top or tap?  Dish or doll?  Cat or dog?  Fog or fat?  Box or bug?”  Put up picture cards.  “Which picture has the /o/ sounds in its name?”  Go through all the picture cards.

6. Read Doc in the Fog and talk about the story.  Read it again and have students raise their hands when they hear the /o/ sound.  Write the words on the board.  Have students write a message about their favorite spot to go on vacation.

7. For assessment, play the phoneme matching game.  Divide the class into two groups.  Each group is a team.  Children raise their hands when they think that they have the answer to the riddle.  Present the riddle by saying, “I am thinking of something that you cook in.  It has a handle.  It begins with the /po/ sound.”  Answer:  pot.  Make the riddles more difficult as the students get better at the game.  Example:  “It begins with the /p/ sound.”

Reference:  Eldredge, J. Lloyd (1995).  Developing Phoneme Awareness Through Stories, Games and Songs Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms 50-70.
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