Stick Out Your Tongue...and say ah!

Emergent Literacy

Heather Lynch


Rationale:  To become a successful reader a child must be able to recognize phonemes in spoken words as well as their corresponding graphemes in written words.  Children need to know their short vowels and the short vowel /o/ is one of importance because of it’s frequency in the English language.  This lesson will help children to master the short o=/o/ correspondence through gestures, tongue twisters, writing practice, and independent work.

Primary Paper for each child
Pencil for each child
Poster with “Oliver had an operation in October, and Oscar gave him an octopus” written on it.
Poster with upper and lower case o written on it, lines drawn like primary paper.
Copy of the book In the Big Top for each child
Popsicle stick for each child to use as tongue depresser
Marker for poster
Chalkboard and chalk
Drawing paper and crayons
Worksheet with pictures of words containing the /o/ sound as well as some that do not such as: pot, tot, cat, stop sign, frog, doctor, grass, dog, hat.


1)  Introduce the lesson by telling children that our written language is secret code that we have to figure out in order to read.  Also, explain to children that each letter has its very own mouth movement and today we are going to be learning about the letter o and its mouth movement.

2)  Ask students:  Have you ever been to the doctor and had him tell you to open wide and say /o/?  Well that is our mouth movement today.  Can you try it with me?  Say /o/.  Now put your tongue depresser on your tongue like the doctor is holding it down to look at your throat.  Let’s all do it together, /o/.

3)  Let’s try our tongue twister:  “Oliver had an operation in October, and Oscar gave him an octopus.”  Ok, now everyone see if we can say it 3 times.  Good job.  Now I want us to stretch out the /o/ sound every time we hear it in a word.  “Ooooliver had an ooooperation in Ooooctober, and Ooooscar gave him an ooooctopus.”  Try it again and this time let’s break the /o/ sound off the word: “/o/ liver had an /o/ peration in /o/ ctober, and /o/ scar gave him an /o/ ctopus.”

4)  Give students primary paper and pencil if they don’t already have it.  We can use the letter o to write /o/.  Let’s write it.  To write an upper case O we start at the roof draw a curved line down to the sidewalk and then back up to connect it at the roof.  Alright now I want to see if everyone can make nine more of those.  Now, to write a lower case o we do the same thing, only this time we start at the fence, draw a curved line down to the sidewalk and then keep the curve going back up to the fence.  Ok see if you can make 9 more of those.  Now that you know what an o looks like when you see it you will know to say /o/.

5)  Let me show you how to find /o/ in the word spot.  I’m going to stretch out the word spot in super slow motion and listen to hear the doctor sound.  sss. sssp. sp-ooo. There it is!  I do hear the doctor sound in spot.

6)  Call on students to answer and ask them how they knew.  Do you hear the /o/ sound in mop or hat?  cat or dog?  top or cap?  bottom or back?  Ask children to raise their hands if they can think of a work with the /o/ sound in it.  Write their responses on the board.

7)  Say:  “Have you ever been to the circus?  They call it the big top.  These people on the front are dressed funny.  I wonder what they are going to do.  I guess we will have to read to find out.”  Read the book In the Big Top.  Next ask students to stick out their tongues when you read it through again when they hear the /o/ sound.

8)  For assessment hand the children the worksheet with the different pictures and tell them to color only the ones with the /o/ sound.  Display their work when they are done.

Reference: Ashley Wood.  Reading Genie Website.  Open Wide.

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