Say Ah . . . OK, Doc
By Jenni Anderson

Rationale:  Children need to know that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in oral language in order to be able to read and write words.  Before kids can make a correlation between phonemes and letters, they must realize that phonemes exist in oral language.  This lesson will help to enable students to identify /o/ (short o).  Children will learn to recognize /o/ in oral language by learning a fun and memorable gesture to go along with the sound and then by recognizing /o/ in words.

Materials: Primary paper and pencil; poster board with tongue twister “Oliver had an operation in October, and Oscar gave him an octopus”; In the Big Top (Educational Insights)- copy for each pair of students; 3 pages of pictures with three pictures a piece (cop, mop, hat)(dot, dog, cat)(pot, frog, pin)- personally created; piece of paper for each pair of students.

  1.   Introduce the day’s lesson by saying that our language is sometimes really tricky, but there are fun ways to make it easier.  Tell students that they can make mouth movements for the different sounds in our language.  Then say, “Today we’re going to work on the mouth move /o/.  We are going to practice finding /o/ in different words and help you to remember its mouth movement.

  1.   Ask the students if they have ever been to the doctor? If they have, did the doctor ever put a stick in their mouth and ask them to say ah?  Then say that we are going to pretend the doctor has just asked you to say ah, and we are all going to do as the Doc says.  Together, everyone says /o/ a few times.  After they make this sound, students will stick out their tongue to pretend the doctor has the stick in their mouths.  Now, everyone say /o/ so Doc can make sure we’re ok.

  2.   "Now, lets try something else really fun.  I want everyone to listen to what this poster says, 'Oliver had an operation in October, and Oscar gave him an octopus.'”  Each student takes a turn saying the tongue twister.  Then as a class, stretch out the /o/ sound at the beginning of the words.  “Ooooliver had an ooooperation in Ooooctober, and Ooooscar gave him an ooooctopus.”  Good, now this time separate the /o/ from the rest of the words when it is at the beginning of a word.  “ /o/ liver had an /o/ peration in /o/ ctober, and /o/ scar gave him an /o/ ctopus.”
  1.   Next student get out the primary paper and pencil.  Tell students that they can use the letter o to spell the sound /o/.  Students write the letter.  Start below the broken line and swoop to the left toward the solid line, curve around back up to the broken line and touch your starting point.  When everyone is done, show the person next to you.  Does it look about the same?  Now, take turns writing the letter o on each other’s paper.  Whenever you see the letter o in a word, that is when you can pretend you are at the doctor and follow his orders and say /o/.
  1.    Then give the students two words.  One word with /o/ sound in it, one without and have each student tell you how he or she knew which word it was.  Example:  “Do you hear /o/ in cop or tub?”  “Do you hear /o/ in mop or cat?”  “Do you hear /o/ in hot or big?”  After each student has done one example, get out the book.
  1.   Read the story In the Big Top by Sheila Cushman to the students.  During the story have students predict what will happen.  After story, summarize it.  Then have students split into groups of two and read the story alternating pages.  When the person listening hears the /o/ sounds, he or she will stick out his or her tongue and make the visual gesture of the sound.  Then have each pair of students invent a story about and octopus and their adventure with this octopus.  Students share their stories.
  1.   For assessment, have student’s work on 'which one does not belong' worksheets.  Student is given three pictures, 2 that have the /o/ sound in them.  Students circle the picture that does not have the /o/ sound in it.  Grade students work and go over correct answers as a class and instruct students to make corrections.  
Reference:  Ehri, L. C.  (1998).  Grapheme-phoneme knowledge is essential for learning to read words in English.  In J. L. Metsala & L. C. Ehri (Eds.), Word recognition in beginning literacy.  Mahwah, NJ:  Erlbaum.

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