It's hot! Ahhh, let's cool off with o!

sweaty lady

Beginning Reading 
Meg Terry


This lesson will help students identify the short o sound, /o/, from the grapheme o. Students will learn to recognize /o/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (wiping off sweaty foreheads), practicing finding /o/ in words, and applying phoneme awareness in a letterbox lesson and through reading.


dry erase board and marker, tongue twister chart, primary paper, pencils, assessment worksheets with 6 pictures and 4 word choices for each picture, pseudo word flashcards with mot, pog, fod, zom, hob, copies of Doc in the Fog (Educational Insights, 1990) for every student, overhead projector with letterbox transparency and tiles, letter boxes for each student with letter tiles (t, o, p, s, i, f, g, r, a, b, h, c, l)


1. Say: "Today, we are going to learn the sound the letter o makes, /o/. You know, summer is coming up and it is going to get hot! So we are going to need to cool off with a cold glass of lemonade. Let's pretend that we are wiping off our sweaty foreheads after drinking our lemonade, /o/, /o/, /o/. (Pantomime wiping off forehead with back of hand.) When we say /o/, our mouth opens and our jaw drops. From now on every time we hear /o/, we will wipe off our foreheads after drinking our lemonade."

2. "Now, let's try a tongue twister with the /o/ sound. (Hold up chart.) 'Oliver gave Oscar an octopus in October.' Let's say that together three times while we wipe off our foreheads. We are going to say it again, but this time I want you to stretch the /o/ at the beginning of the words. 'Oooooliver gave Oooooscar an ooooctopus in Oooooctober.' Now, do you think we can make the /o/ sound and pause before saying the rest of the word? '/o/ liver gave /o/ scar an /o/ ctopus in /o/ ctober.' Good job!"

3. "Let's practice finding the /o/ sound in different words. I'm going to say two words and I want you to tell me which word has the /o/ sound in it. I'll do one first. Do I hear the /o/ sound in the word hat or hot? Let me see if I hear the sound I make when I cool off after my cold lemonade. /h/ /a/ /t/. Hmm, no, I don't cool off with the word hat. Let me try hot. /h/ /o/ /t/. Look, I found the sound we make when we are cooling off! I hear /o/ in the word hot. Now we'll try some as a class. Do you hear /o/ in mop or map? job or jug? dog or dig? pop or pat?"

4. Have the class get out their letter boxes and the correct set of letter tiles for the particular lesson and get yours out preparing to spell on the overhead. Say: "It's time to get out our letter boxes and our letter tiles and spell some words. I'm going to spell one first. I am going to spell the word frog." (Put up four letter boxes.) "Let me see, /f/. Okay, I need to put an f in the first box. /f/ /r/. So, I need an r in the second box, fr. /o/, Oh! There's our sound for cooling off, and it goes in the third box. /g/ Now we need a g to go in out fourth letter box. We just spelled frog!" Have the students spell words independently and walk around the room checking their progress, and scaffolding when necessary. When starting a new word, tell the students how many boxes to unfold. Use the words: top (3), sit (3), fog (3), grab (4), shop (4), clog (4), and frost (5). If students have trouble, I'll help them by starting with the /o/ sound in each word first.

 5. "You all did an excellent job spelling the words in your letter boxes, so now let's try reading them. I am going to write all the words you just spelled on the board and I want you all to read them to me after I write each one." (Write these on the board: grab, fog, frost, shop, sit, top, clog.)

6. "Next, we are going to read our book Doc in the Fog. Doc is a wizard, or 'the Wiz' for short. He can turn any object into something new. Doc gets carried away with his magic. So let's read to find out what happens to Doc. With your neighbor, you will read this book. You will each take turns reading a page. Remember our cooling off sound /o/ when you are reading this story. I will come around to each group and make sure you all are doing okay."

7. "Let's write messages about a toy that we wish we could turn into another toy just like Doc the wizard did in our book." Make sure the children have their primary paper and pencils and let them write independently at their desks.

8. Assessment: To assess the students, I'll have worksheets with six pictures of various items. There will be four word choices the students can read and they will circle the word that the picture represents. I will also call up students individually to read from flashcards with pseudo words – mot, pog, fod, zom, hob.


Lydon, Lili (2008). Ehh…Opening the Reading Door.

McKissick, Brittney (2008). Open Wide and Say "Ah!"

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