Beginning Reading Literacy Design: The Doctor Says Ah!
Amy Strickland

Rationale: When learning to read young children must first learn that our alphabet is a secret code.  They will learn to decode it as they discover what the letters themselves look like and what sounds they stand for.  In this lesson they will learn what the letter o looks like and that it makes the mouth move /o/.  They will be placed into a small group with fellow first graders, al well as their teacher, in order to learn this correspondence.  They will participate in a tongue twister, a letterbox lesson, a correspondence game, and finally a shared reading.

Materials: Black board, chalk, tongue twister: “Rob and Tom stopped at the bottom of the hill to hop in the hot rod with Roz,” and “Tom the octopus is sitting on top of a rock at the bottom of the ocean,” cards with words on them: man, top, Sam, mop, mask, ten, sub, Bob, got, and dip, Primary paper, pencil, two, three, and four letter Elkonin boxes (one set of all three for each child), letter manipulatives (o, h, b, t, j, c, p, r, f, l, s, x, b) for each child, set of words previously picked out by the teacher for the letter box lesson: hop, box, job, top, sox, hot, cop, rot, flop, spot, blob, and stop, children’s journals, Doc in the Fog, list of pseudowords, and crayons.


1. For this lesson the teacher will explain to the children that just as we know that each letter has a specific mouth move we also know that we can use this specific letter and its mouth move to help us learn to read.  We are going to learn to spot the letter o in written text and be able to place the correct mouth move /o/ with the letter written down.  It will be tricky at times but we will get lots of practice today and you will all be experts at decoding the letter o by the end of the lesson.  Are you ready to begin?
2. How many of you have ever been to the doctor and he asked you to say /o-o-o/ so that he could look down your throat?  Well, that’s the mouth move that we are going to learn to recognize and decode in written words today.  This sound stands for the letter o.  Can everyone say /o/ for me?  Great!  Now try stretching it out. /o-o-o/.  Good!  Now everyone say the word top for me.  Do you hear the mouth move /o/ in top?  Excellent!
3. After the children do this the teacher will read the tongue twister that is written on the board and then ask the children to help her read it a second time, “Rob and Tom stopped at the bottom of the hill to hop in the hot rod with Roz.”  Wonderful!  Now let’s read it again stretching out our /o/ every time we see out letter o.  “Ro-o-ob and To-o-om sto-o-opped at the bo-o-otto-o-om of the hill to ho-o-op in the ho-o-ot ro-o-od with Ro-o-oz.” Good job kids!
4. Now let’s play a game.  First I am going to hold up a card with a word on it and I would like each of you to either hold up a thumbs up sign or a thumbs down sign, depending on what the word says.  The thumbs up sign is going to be used when you see a word with the /o/ mouth move in it, and the thumbs down sign will be used when the word does not have the mouth move /o/ in it.  I will read and hold up the first few words but then I’ll begin to just hold them up for you to read and figure out on your own.  Are you ready?  Ok, let’s begin.  What about the word hot?  Good job!  I see lots of thumbs up signs.  What about car?  Excellent!  It doesn’t have the /o/ mouth move does it?  You are all so very smart.
5. Then the teacher will give each childe a set of two, three, and four Elkonin boxes and the appropriate letter manipulatives needed to spell the words previously picked out.  The teacher will start by explaining that each box can hold only one letter or mouth move and that there will not be any more letters than there are boxes.  Students I want you to place your two mouth move Elkonin box in front of you with your letters and move the other boxes to the side.  First I am going to spell one of the words for you to see an example.  Here I have three boxes out and my word is hop.  The first one is /h/ so it will be the h, and the second one is /o/ so it will be an o.  The last mouth move is /p/ therefore it will be a letter p. Do you see how I figured out how it would be three letters and which ones they would be?   Now let’s try and spell a word like we will do at the end of our letterbox game.  The teacher will place the letters out in front of her and show the children how to decode the word by vowel first body coda blending.   Now I will give you a word and I want you to spell it in the boxes.  Remember that there is only one mouth move per box.  Our first word is on.  Very good everyone!  Now let’s try a three letter or mouth move word.  What about job, /j/ /o/ /b/.  Excellent!  This lesson will continue with the three and four Elkonin boxes.  At the end the students will be asked to read the words back to the teacher one at a time.
6. Now the children will all be given the book Doc in the Fog.  The teacher will pair them up and let them buddy read while she walks around scaffolding and assisting when needed.
7. Now for assessment the children will be given another tongue twister.  Does everyone see this tongue twister up on the board?  “Tom the octopus is sitting on top of a rock at the bottom of the ocean.”  I want everyone to take out your journals and write this phrase down in it.  Then I would like for you to circle all of the letters that make the /o/ mouth move.  Then when you finish that I would like to see you draw and color a picture of an /o-o-o/ctopus.  While you are doing this I will call one of you at a time to come and see me, just to read a couple of words to me.  The teacher will then ask each child, one at a time, to come to her desk and begin to read a few pseudowords while she writes down the miscues.  The words will be: vot, tob, tox, gock, fom, and bock.

Cushman, Sheila. Doc in the Fog. Educational Insights. Carson, CA. (1990).

Murray, B. A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for
 Teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

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