Emergent Literacy Design: The Doctor Says “/o/”

Amy Strickland
Emergent Literacy

Rationale: Phoneme Awareness is one of the most important skills for children to master before they begin to learn to read.  If they can master this skill then most will be incredibly successful readers and will more than likely find more fun and joy in their pursuit to read and write.  In this lesson the children will be taught to identify the short o mouth movement, /o/.  They will interact with the teacher in a number of games in which they will have the opportunity to recognize and single out the phoneme /o/ in spoken words.

Materials: Tongue Twister on large piece of chart paper, primary writing paper, pencils, In the Big Top (Educational Insights, 1990), index cards with the letter o on them for students, crayons, students’ journals, assessment sheets with pictures with hat, pot, stop, cup, mop, log, cot, and zip.

1. To begin this lesson the teacher will first explain that every mouth move that we make has a letter that goes along with it, or that stands for it.  Just like how a  baseball bat is used to play baseball, our letters are used to recognize which mouth movement to use when reading or speaking.  Today we are going to learn how to recognize the /o/ mouth movement in many different words.  It may be confusing at first, but with practice it will get much easier.  Are you ready?
2. How many of you have ever been to the doctor?  Has he ever asked you to open your mouth up really wide and say /o/, so that he could see your teeth or the back of your throat?  Well, that is the mouth move that I am going to teach you to pick out in words today.  Can everyone say /o/ for me?  Now stretch it out and say it for a long time /o-o-o-o-o-o/.  Very good!  Now try saying hot, ho-o-o-o-o-t.  Excellent!
3. Now everyone listen to me say this tongue twister one time and then we’ll see if you can say it with me the second time.  “Tom the octopus is on top of a rock at the bottom of the ocean.”  Now let’s say it together but I want all of us to really stretch out our doctor mouth move /o/ when we say it.  Here we go, “To-o-om the o-o-octopus is sitting o-o-o-n to-o-op of a ro-o-ock at the bo-o-otto-o-om of the ocean.”  Great job!
4. Now I would like everyone to try and write an o, the letter that represents our mouth movement /o/.  First take out a sheet of (primary) paper and a pencil and get ready to write.  As the teacher begins to write (so that all students can see her) she instructs them to start just underneath the fence and move your pencil up to the fence, then around and down to the sidewalk.  Keep going in your circle around and up, back to where you began your o, just underneath the fence again.  Now everyone hold up your o’s and let me see.  Super job everyone!  Now I would like to see everyone write five more of those beautiful o’s of your paper.  You may begin.
5. Now we are going to play a matching game.  I am going to give you a description of a word, and I would like one of you to raise your hand to tell me the word that matches my description.  Ok?  Let’s begin.  I am thinking of something that you cook in, on top of the stove.  It begins with the /po/ sound.  Pot.  I am thinking of the opposite of cold.  It begins with the sound /ho/.  Hot.  I am thinking of what a bunny rabbit and a kangaroo do.  It begins with the sound /ho/.  Hop.  Excellent everyone!  Now let’s all make our doctor mouth movement that was in every one of those words, /o-o-o/.  Great!  Now let’s play another game.  I’m going to ask one group to decode my secret word and then to repeat our doctor mouth move again.  Each team will get a turn and we’ll see how all of you do.  Team one, can you figure out this secret code word, /t/ /o/ /p/?  Top, /o-o-o/.  Good team one.  Now team two, what about  /g/ /o/ /t/?  Got, /o-o-o/.  Wonderful!
6. Next, read the story In the Big Top aloud to the students.  Give each student an index card with the letter o on it and read the story again, this time asking the students to hold up their o card every time they hear the /o/ doctor sound.  Every time you see my mouth make our /o/ doctor move hold up your o card to let me know that you have done so.  Then allow the students to write a journal entry about the hot rod in the big top.  Allow them to share their work.  Encourage them to use invented spelling and to describe the characters Rob, Tod, Roz, Pop, Tom, and Mom getting into the hot rod.
7. Now for assessment.  Give each individual child a sheet with pictures on it.  I want all of you to look at these pictures.  If your mouth makes the /o/ doctor move when you say the name of the picture then I want you to circle it.  Let’s do the first one together.  What is that a picture of?  A hat.  Good.  Should you circle it?  Does your mouth make the /o/ movement?  No. Excellent!  What about the next one, a pot?  And so on.

Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teaching decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Prentice- Hall, Inc.
 Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.  (1995) 63-67.

Cushman, Sheila. In the Big Top.  Educational Insights. Carson, CA. (1990).

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