Dr. Oliver makes us say “Ah”


Beginning Reading

By:  Chelsi Simmons


Rationale:  A key component to children’s success in reading is phoneme awareness.  In order to become phonemically aware children need to understand and be familiar with the various sounds that make up written words.  Vowel sounds are the most important phonemes that children can learn, because they can be found in every written and spoken word.  Without the proper knowledge of vowel sounds, written words cannot be correctly decoded.  This lesson will focus on the vowel correspondence o=/o/.  This lesson will teach students to recognize the correspondence o=/o/ in spoken and written words.  They will learn the /o/ sound by learning a meaningful representation, and learn to spell and read words that contain the o=/o/ correspondence through a letterbox lesson. 


Materials:  Elkonin boxes for each child, letter tiles for each child (a, c, f, g, h, l, m, o, p, r, s, t) in a zip lock bag, copy In The Big Top for each child, paint stick signs 2 for each child (one that says Ah and one that says No), overhead projector, Cards that have picture of items that contain the o=/o/ sound (ex.  Mop, sock, clock,) and items that don’t contain the /o/ sound (cat, broom, dice)



1.  Introduce the o=/o/ correspondence.  “We are going to imagine that we are going to Dr. Oliver’s office for a check up, and he needs us to open up our mouth and say Ah.  That same Ah sound is the sound that o makes.”  Introduce the following tongue twister:  Dr. Oliver had an operation in October.  Model the tongue twister first then allow students to say it with you and stretch out the /o/ sound.

 2.  “Now, I want you to listen closely to some words and tell me which word has /o/ in it.  frog or bug?  flock or herd?  stomp or walk? slob or neat?  Good job.”

 3.  Next, get students to get out their letters and letter boxes.  On an overhead projector model how to use the letter boxes.  “I want you to watch me first so that you can see what we are going to be doing.  I want to spell the word frog.” (model how to sound out the word frog and place each letter into it’s proper letter box, and then take away the letterboxes and say this is the word frog.)

 4.  “Now I want you to open your letter box strip so you have 3 letter boxes showing, because the words we are going to spell have 3 sounds.” (make students spell:  mop, tap (review word), hot)  Then allow students to extend their boxes to 4 and spell the words:  clog, flop, and slot.

 5.  When students have finished spelling out the words in their letterboxes tell them that they can put their letters and boxes away.  When students are finished put the words used in the LBL on the overhead and allow the student to read the words.

 6.  Introduce the book, In the Big Top to the class using a book talk (also tell the class that this is Dr. Oliver’s favorite book). “ This book is about a family of circus performers.  There are 6 people in the family, and they all have to fit in a tiny car before they can perform.  I wonder if they can all fit into the tiny little car and drive in to do their performance. I guess we are going to have to read and find out.

 7.  Allow students to partner read the book together.

 8.  For an assessment find pictures of things that contain the o=/o/ correspondence as well as pictures that do not contain the /o/ sound. (ex.  Mop, sock, rock, dot, map, crab, dress).  Give each student a 2 paint sticks with paper plates on the end of each (one that says Ah and the other says No.  The teacher should put each picture one at a time on the overhead and say the name of the item on the card.  Then, tell the students to hold up the Ah sign if they hear the /o/ sound and the No sign if they don’t hear the /o/ sound.

 For further assessment make a set of flashcards that contain words with the o=/o/ phoneme, and allow students to read the flashcards. (words can be selected by teacher or tutor some examples are:  mop, sock, clock, dot, top, lock, pot, not)



Jennifer Pegues, Summer 2004.  Picky Pig



Murray, Bruce and Lesniak T. (1999).  The Letterbox Lesson:  A hands-on Approach to teaching decoding.  The reading Teacher, 52.  644-650.

 Letterbox Example Words with 4, 5, or 6 phonemes



Book:  In The Big Top Educational Insights, Carson, CA.  1990

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