Oscar the Octopus Operates


 Beginning Reading  

By: Alexis Ogubie



Children need to understand that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out those phonemes in spoken words.  However, before they can match letters to phonemes, they must be able to recognize phonemes in spoken words.  This lesson will help children to identify short vowel /o/.  Short vowels are important because they are present in most words.  The following lesson will involve completing a letterbox lesson, reading words and a book that contains the /o/ correspondence.



1.  Show the phoneme graphic of the octopus, o.  Explain that when you see the beginning letter of octopus, the /o/ sound represents the o=/o/ correspondence. Show them the hand gesture of waving all of your fingers except the thumbs to represent the tentacles of an octopus. Can you make the octopus /o/ with me? Now this sound is made by a short vowel, the short o.  This short o always makes the /o/ sound, so when you hear the short /o/, make sure you wave your octopus fingers.

2. Now I am going to bring out the chart with the tongue twister on it.  I will first read the tongue twister demonstrating the octopus /o/.  Next, the students will repeat the tongue twister with me. Here we go, Oooscar the oooctopus oooperated in Oooctober! Good, you did great making the octopus/o/ sound. 

3.  Next, make sure that the student can distinguish the /o/ sound in words.  So, ask: Do you hear /o/ in rock or stick? Cat or dog? Flip or flop? Ask each one individually to make sure they are getting it. Ask if students know any more words that begin with /o/. 

4.  Begin letterbox lesson after discussing more words with the short /o/ sound in them. Take out your letterboxes and letters.  We will need the letters: d, o, t, j, b, c, s, p, m, k, f, r, e, a. Make sure that the students do not read the words in the letterboxes, but wait until the end when we take the letterboxes away.   First, model the LBL for them to show them how to do it. Now we are going to spell some words that have the /o/ sound in them. I want to spell the word stomp. I have fiveboxes to place my letters in.  I am listening to the sounds that are in the word so that I know what letters I need to place inside the boxes.  I know that I hear that /o/ so I am going to get an o letter tile.  The first sound I hear is a /s/ so that is the letter s, next I hear /t/, then i hear /o/ which is the octopus sound, the next sound i hear is /m/ which is the letter m and finally I hear /p/ so that is the letter p.  Now, I have placed all my letters in their boxes, and I have the word stomp. Next, use the LBL and the letter tiles to complete a lesson using the words: 3 phonemes: {dot, bed, job, cat}     4 phonemes: {stop, smock   5 phonemes: {frost}. These words will reinforce the octopus o=/o/ correspondence that we have been working on.  Say the words for the student to spell, and if they make a mistake, pronounce the word as they spelled it.  Allow them to self-correct.  If they cannot self-correct, then model how to spell the word.  Let them know that it is okay to make mistakes and it was a tough word.  Continue through the LBL until the child has spelled all the words. 

5. Next, bring out the flash cards containing the words that they just spelled.  Have them read each word.  If they struggle with the words, then use the letter tiles to spell the word.  Then break the word down into small parts.  Show them that they can cover up parts of a tricky word and sound it out part-by-part, or letter by letter.  Finish reading the words, and model as needed.  Allow time for self-correction.

6.  Now bring out the decodable book A Hot Spot.  I know everyone knows what it feels like to be hot.   Today we are going to read a book about a hot day.  Tim has a hot job.  All he wants is a cool drink, but there is a pig in the way. Will he get a drink. We will have to read the rest to find out?

7.  Finally, bring out the primary paper and pencil and have the students write a message.  I want each of you to write a sentence or two describing your favorite holiday.  Encourage them to use invented spelling. 


Have each student read pseudowords containing the o= /o/ correspondence.  Use the following pseudowords {pog, yot, zom, lod, mos}.  This will provide an interesting assessment of the student's ability to read using this correspondence.    


 Murray, B.A., How to Teach a Letterbox lesson

 A Hot Spot by Geri Murray
Reading Genie: hhttp://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/bookindex.html

Tew, Melanie. It's Obvious that You're Sick. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/persp/tewbr.html

Return to Encounters Index