Uh Oh!

Beginning Reading

By: Karla Hollis


Skilled readers rely on the spellings of words to recognize the words found in text. It is important for students who are learning to read to rely on phoneme-grapheme correspondences. The goal for this lesson is for students to learn to spell and read words using the correspondence o_e = /O/. Students will have the opportunity to spell words with the o_e = /O/ correspondence and apply the spelling strategies to reading.


           *Elkonin letterboxes for each student

           The following letters in a plastic bag for each student: h, o, m, e, r, s, c, a, n, d, t, t, i, p, l, c, b, k (two t’s are needed for this lesson)

           Large Elkonin letterboxes with Velcro/tape in the center of each box for the teacher

           The following letters with Velcro/tape on the back for the teacher (letters should be large enough for all students to see): h, o, m, e, r, s, c, a, n, d, t, t, i, p, l, c, b, k (two t’s are needed for this lesson)

           Markers/chalk for white board/chalkboard

           List of words separated by the number of phonemes for the teacher

[3] rose, can, dome, tip

[4] flop, slope, spine, close, state

[5] stroke

           List of words spelled for each student (words should be in a different order than when they were spelled)











           Flashcards of the following words: flat, smoke, dive, sneak, mope, crush, plop, stone, crop

           Lists of words that are on the flashcards for assessment (one for each student)

           Is Jo Home?, book


    1. Before beginning the lesson, it would be a great idea to review some of the long vowel sounds that were previously learned such as a­­_e  = /A/. To review this         correspondence, the teacher may say "Do you remember when we learned about the /A/ sound and how there was something special about it? Does anyone             remember what was so special about this sound, /A/?" Give students time to respond. If no one responds, take the opportunity to remind them that “some                 words with the /A/ sound have what we call a silent e. Let’s see if we hear the /A/ sound in the word cane? /c/ /A/ /n/. I hear the /A/ sound, but let’s see if we         can spell this word on the board. The first sound that really sticks out in my mind in the word cane is the /A/ sound (teacher writes an a on the board). If we             leave this letter (pointing to the a) here by itself, it makes the /a/ sound. Is there anything that we can do to make it say /A/?" Hopefully students will provide               the right response; if not, inform them that we can add a silent e at the very end. Help them further understand by telling them that the silent e pinches the a to             make it say its name. The next sound that I hear the /k/ sound. (teacher writes a c) The last sound we hear in the word /c/ /A/ /n/ is the /n sound (teacher writes         an n on the board). "It seems that we have all the sounds, and we see that this words says /c/ /A/ /n/, cane."

  1. After reviewing, ask the students "what do you say when you’ve dropped something or you’ve done something that you didn’t mean to do?" Allow students to answer, hoping that one says ‘uh oh’. If not, tell them "When I drop something or I do something that I didn’t mean to do, I sometimes say ‘uh oh’. Well today, we are going to learn about the /O/ sound and how and where we find it in words.
  2. "Just as we just spelled words with /A/ sound in them, we can spell words with the /O/ sound the same way by adding a silent e. If I wanted to spell the word bone, I would say the word to my self and stretch it out so that I could hear each sound - /b/ /O/ /n/. In this word, the first sound that really sticks out is the /O/ sound." Write the letter o on the board. If I leave this letter (pointing to the o) here by itself, it makes the /o/ sound, but I want it to make the /O/ sound. To make it say the /O/ sound, I want to place a silent e at the end of my word. Remember that the silent e pinches the o and makes it say its name. Now that I have the /O/ sound, I want to get the rest of the sounds in the word /b/ /O/ /n/. The next sound that I hear is /b/." Write a b on the board. The last sound that I hear in the word /b/ /O/ /n/ is /n/." Explain to the students that sometimes we place the letter n between the o and the e because the e is so silent, it’s almost as if it isn’t there.
  3. Allow the students to practice finding the /O/ sound by giving them example words such as joke, club, and cone. During this time, ask students for their thought processes in finding the /O/ sound. With each word that has the /O/ sound, go to the board and allow the students to instruct you on the spelling.
  4. "Now that we’ve learned about the /O/ sound and we’ve figured out how to find it in words that we say, we’re going to see if we can spell words with the /O/ sound in them." At this time, give students their individual Elkonin boxes and plastic bags. Ask students to remove their letters from the bag and fold their Elkonin boxes so that three of them are showing. Also take this time to set up your letterboxes on the board.
  5. "Remember when I said that I wanted to spell the word bone and I said each sound to myself and then wrote it on the board? Well, that’s what I want you to do as we begin spelling these words. Each individual sound, NOT letter, goes into each letterbox." Repeat if necessary. "Since we’re using the letterboxes, the silent e that we sometimes find at the end of words goes outside of the letterboxes because we don’t hear it." For example, if we use the word joke that we spelled earlier, we would say the word to ourselves so that we hear each individual sound. When we found the sounds, we would put the /j/ sound in the first letterbox, the /O/ sound in the second letterbox, and the /k/ sound in the third letterbox." Teacher places sounds in the appropriate letterboxes as he/she instructs. "If we read this word, it would say /j/ /o/ /k/. We want it to say /j/ /O/ /k/, so we would need to place the silent e outside the letterboxes to let us know that the o is going to say its name.
  6. "Since everyone has their letterboxes folded to where only three are showing, I think we’re ready to begin spelling words! Remember to think about each sound that you hear and place each sound into a different letterbox. Using three letterboxes, the first word I want you to spell is home. After I left school, I went straight home." Repeat the word and same/different sentence, allowing students to spell the word and place each sound in the correct box. Take this time to walk around and observe each student as they begin spelling words. If you notice any problems students are having, take this time to model for them how to spell the word as you did with bone, and joke. After students are done spelling the word, ask them to clear all the letters from the letterboxes. Continue this procedure by finishing all the three phoneme words (rose, can, dome, tip), then the four phoneme words (slope, spine, close, state, flop) and then the five phoneme words (stroke). Ask students to change the number of letterboxes at the end of each list.
  7. Once all the words have been spelled, give each student a list of words. "Now that we’ve finished spelling our words, we are going to read this word list from top to bottom. As I clap, I want you to read each word."
  8. After reading the list, gather the students together and give a brief book talk about the book Is Jo Home? "This is a story about a little dog who really wants to play with Jo. He searches and searches for Jo so they can play together. In order to find out what Jo and the dog do, we’re going to read the story. While you’re reading, I want you to pay attention to words with the /O/ sound and see how they are spelled."
  9. For assessment, allow each student to read Is Jo Home? and take a running record. Then show each student flashcards with words including o_e = /O/ and previous correspondences learned. Allow the student to read each word while you check the words on a list, making note of any miscues. The word list may include words such as flat, smoke, dive, sneak, mope, crush, plop, stone, and crop. Words with the /o/ sound will be useful in order for students to be able to distinguish between the short and long o.

*Elkonin letterboxes may be made for each student by cutting cardstock paper into 4" x 4" squares and taping them together so that they can easily fold. For teacher letterboxes, ¼ of a poster board may be used for each letterbox, using the same taping method.


Barton, Sarah. Oooohh My!


Cushman, Shelia. Is Jo Home? Carson, CA. Educational Insights. 1990.

 Lesniak, Theresa and Bruce Murray. 1999. "Teaching Reading." The Reading Teacher. Vol. 52. No. 6. Pgs. 644-650.

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