Ahhhh….I’m Sleepy!

Emergent Literacy


Temetka Smith


Rationale: Children need to understand the alphabetic principle that letters stand for phonemes and spellings maps out phonemes in spoken words. This is important in learning to read and spell. Children have to recognize phonemes in spoken word context. Short vowels are the most difficult phoneme to identify. This lesson will help children to identify o = / o / (short o) correspondences. They will learn to recognize / o / in spoken and written words through representation of the sound.


Materials: Primary paper and pencil; chart paper with “Oliver loves omelets in October and Oscar gave him an olive;” Class set of cards with one side a yawning person or face and the other side with a smiling person or face; picture page consisting of: mop, cat, pot, map, dog, frog, fog, stop sign, hat; scissors; glue stick; construction paper; Stickers



1.     Introduce the lesson by explaining that written words are a special code. The most special part is learning what letters stand for and how the mouth moves when saying different words. Today we are going to work on /o/. We are going to spot /o/ in all kinds of words and from now on you will be able to spot /o/ in other words yourself.

2.     Ask students: Have you ever been so sleepy before that when you yawned, you made the / o / sound? That’s the mouth movement that we are looking for in words today. Let’s pretend to yawn and say /o/ all together. {Modeling for them: Everyone “yawns” and put their hands close to, but not touching their mouths} When we yawn, our mouths make the shape of an o and it makes the sound of /o/ as well.

3.     Let’s try a tongue twister from the chart. “Oliver loves omelets in October and Oscar gave him an olive.” Everybody say it two times together. Now the last time we say it, I want you to stretch the / o / at the beginning of those words and pretend to “yawn” at the / o /. “ Oooliver loves ooomelets in Oooctber and Oooscar gave him an ooolive.” Try it one more time and this time try to separate the /o/ from the rest of the word: “/o/ liver loves /o/ melets in /o/ ctober and /o/ scar gave him an /o/ live.”

4.     {Give each student primary paper and a pencil} We can also use the letter o to spell /o/. Let’s practice. Starting at the fence. First make a little c and close it up. I want to see everybody’s o when they have practiced. After I put a sticker on it, I want you to make five more just like it. So the next time you see o in a word all by itself, that’s the hint to say /o/.

5.     Call on students to answer: Do you hear /o/ in dog or cat? Fog or sun? Sock or shoe? Frog or snake? {Pass out a card to each student} Say: Let’s see if you can notice the mouth movement /o/ in some words. Show the yawning side if you hear the /o/ and the smiling side if you don’t. {Give each word of the tongue twister slowly one by one} Oliver, loves, omelets, and, Oscar, gave, him, an, omelet.

6.     Read the tongue twister to the students again. Have the students to brainstorm more words that have the /o/ sound. List the words on the chart paper or board. Then have each student to write a message to extend the tongue twister into a story. Display the stories

7.     To assess what they know, give each student a picture page, construction paper with an O on top, scissors, and glue. Assist the students by helping them name the pictures. Ask the students to cut out the pictures and glue the /o/ pictures on to the construction paper.


Reference: Eldredge, J.L. (2005). Teaching and Decoding: Why and How/2nd Ed. Ohio: Pearson Education, Inc. pg. 27-39

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