Open Up for /o/

Children Playing Doctor Clip Art clipart

Beginning Reading
By: Lindsey Taylor

In order for students to read and spell, they must learn that letters stand for phonemes.  The ability to identify phonemes (or vocal gestures) in spoken words is one way to define phonemic awareness.  A child’s phonemic awareness upon entering school may be one of the most important factors in the success or failure in learning to read; so it is extremely important that students learn how to make the letter/sound connection.  It is important to teach children consonants but it is equally important to teach them vowels.  During this lesson, I will focus on the vowel correspondence o=/o/.  By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to recognize /o/ in spoken words through a memorable letterbox lesson, which involves the use of gestures, tongue twisters, and reading a decodable text.


-White board

-dry erase markers


-Primary paper


-Drawing paper

-Chant-“Ollie the otter ate olives with an octopus in October” (written on board.)

-Teacher letter boxes

-Student letter boxes

-Letters: n, o, t, f, f, h, s, p, c, k, t, l

-The book Doc and the Frog

-Assessment worksheet

-Cards: Pot, Pan



1. For this lesson, the teacher will explain to students that just as we know that each letter has a particular mouth movement, we also know that we can use this specific letter and its mouth movement to help us learn to read.  Today, 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 in print.  It can seem tricky at times but the more we practice, the easier it will be to find.”

2.      Ask students: How many of you have ever been to the doctor because you were sick?  Did the doctor ask you to open up wide and say /o/? The doctor asks you to do that so he can see 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 let’s pretend we are at the doctor and the doctor asks us to open wide and say /o/. Make sure your stretching it out like this, /o-o-o-o/. This time when we make that /o/ sound, I want everyone to point to their mouths.  Try making that sound as you point to your mouth. Very good!

3.      Now the teacher will read the tongue twister that is written on the white board and then ask the students to help her read it the second time, “Ollie the otter ate olives with an octopus in October.”  Now let’s read it again, and this time let’s stretch out our /o/ every time we see the letter o in the tongue twister.  Make sure we’re pointing to our mouths every time we say the /o/ sound. “Oooooooollie the oooooooootter ate oooooooooolives with an ooooooooooctopus in oooooooooooctober”.  Good job!

4.      Now we’re going to use what you have just learned to play a game.  I am going to show you a card.  If you hear the /o/ sound, show me the hand gesture.  And give me thumbs down of you do not hear /o/ in the word.  What about the word pot? Good job! I do hear that /o/ sound in pot.  What about the word pan? Excellent! We don’t hear the /o/ in pan.

5.      Now we’re going to pull out our letter boxes. I am going to say a few words.  Using your letters and letter boxes, I want you to try and spell out each word.  Don’t forget about the /o/ sound we make in the doctor’s office.  First I’m going to show you how to spell not.  Not, /n-ooo-t/, well I know that the /o/ is in the middle so I place an o in the middle box.  Then I think about the beginning letter, /nnn/- so I will put an n in the first box.  Now I listen for the last letter-/t/ /t/ /t/, I hear a t so I will put the letter t in the last box.Words for letterbox lesson: (2) on, off (3) hot, shop, pot, sock (4) stop, plot, flock, spot. After using the letter boxes, I will write the words on the board and have     the class read the words aloud.

6.      Now that we have been spelling and reading words with the letter o in them, we are going to learn how to write an o. Watch how I write a lowercase o. (Draw the lines/fence on white board) I start below the fence and make a little c. Then I close it up to make an o. Now you try on your own paper. Write an o 5 times on your paper and make sure you say the phrase while you write them. Teacher will say the phrase while they are writing to help them remember.

7.      Do you hear /o/ in hot or cold? Broom or mop? Fan or hot? Not or rope? Now let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /o/ in some words.  Point to your mouth if you hear /o/. Ollie, the, otter, ate, olives, with, an, octopus, in, October.

8.      Now I will read and give a book talk for Doc and the Frog.  This book is about a magical wizard who uses his wand to change things into other things.  The first thing he changes is a mop into a ____.  What do you think he’s going to change the mop into?  What else do you think he will change using his magical wand? Well let’s read to find out! Have students point to their mouths every time they hear words with the /o/ sound.  List the words on the dry erase board together.

9.      Have the students take out their crayons and drawing paper and draw a scene from the story incorporating at least one of the words listed on the board.  It must have /o/ in the word.  Also have them write a little message about it using invented spelling.  Display their work.

10.  Assessment: I will assess the students individually by giving them a worksheet with words. Some of the words have the /o/ sound in them and some words do not. The students are to read the words and circle the words that have the /o/ sound. The worksheet will have words such as hop, let, shop, note, stop, flop, tub, rope, not, hip, spot, slow, etc.



Collins, Virginia. “Icky, icky I

Harris, Katherine. “Ollie, the Octopus”

Phonics Reader Short Vowel, Doc in the Fog , Carson, Ca (USA): Educational insight,(1990).

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