The Doctor Said Open Up and Say /o/

Emergent Literacy Lesson Design

Lauren Kendrick


Rationale:  Children need to be aware of vowel correspondences in order to become skillful readers.  Once they understand that phonemes or sounds are mapped onto letters in written words they will begin to develop their reading ability and use such strategies as decoding. Students will learn to identify the short /o/ in spoken words, by understanding the mouth movement connected to the sound and practice finding the /o/ in words.

Materials:  Chart with “Oscar’s frog hopped into the opera house.” picture page with dog, mop, pig, clock, frog, bug, cat, box, sock, jet, In the Big Top (Education Insights) Assessment sheet with ten word pairs.  The pairs are: drop or trip, back or block, strong or skunk, rake or rock, knob or club, snack or dock, list or frost, leg or jog, cross or brass, blunt or blond. Primary paper and pencils.


1. Introduce the lesson by reviewing what correspondences we have learned so far and explain the objectives for this lesson.  “So far you have learned the short /a/, /e/, and /i/.  As we’ve learned each letter stands for the mouth move that we make when we say a letter.  Today we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /o/.  As you get to know the mouth move you will be able to find /o/ in many kinds of words.”

2. I will introduce the o vowel correspondence by comparing it to the sound you make when the doctor used a tongue depressor to check their throats.  “Everyone has been to the doctor before and had to get their throats checked with a tongue depressor.  Can someone tell me the sound you make when the doctor checks your throat?  Yes, great job.  You make the /o/ sound and that is the sound for the short o.  As a class I want everyone to practice saying the /o/ sound together.  Pretend you are at the doctors and he is looking at your throat.  Say /o/.  Very good class.”

3. “Now we are going practice spelling the /o/ sound using the letter o.  Everyone start at the fence and first make a little c, then close in up.  Make a little c, then close it up.  After I have checked everybody’s o I want you to continue making your o and finish the first row.  Now when you see the letter o all by itself in a word that will signal to you to say /o/.  Great job class!”

4. The students will practice saying a tongue twister (on chart) “Oscar’s frog hopped into the opera house.” “As a class we will say the tongue twister together three times.  Now, this time I want you to really stretch /o/. Oooscar’s frooog hooopped into the ooopera house. Excellent! Now, break the sound off the word. /o/ scar’s fro-o-og ho- opped into the /o/ pera house.”   

5. “Next I will read the book, In the Big Top to the class.  I went you to listen hard for the /o/ sound.  Then you will reread the book and write down all the words that contain the /o/ sound.  I will put you in partners to practice and make sure you are stressing the /o/ sound.  I will write down your words on the board and underline the o in each word.”

6. For assessment the students will complete a picture page.  The worksheets will be distributed and I will help students with naming each picture.  Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names have /o/.   I will then have each student come up to be tested individually with a checklist of ten word pairs on it.  I will say each pair and ask the student to identify the word that has the short /o/ sound.



Amy Bright  “Olly Says /o/ at the Doctors”

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