"Open your mouth wide…./o-o-o/”

 Caroline Yow

Beginning Reading Lesson

Rationale: Beginning readers need to be aware of phonemes in words because they need to know the sound that each letter makes. Vowels are difficult phonemes for children to recognize. This lesson features the short vowel /o/. Short vowels are often the first letters taught in beginning reading instruction. This lesson will teach how to use /o/ in order to make words. Through the use of tongue twisters, letter box lessons, and texts, this lesson will help the children recognize the vowel /o/ in spoken and written words.


1. Chart paper with chant written on (Oliver's octopus had an operation in October)

2. Books: Olive the Octopus's Day of Juggling: Letter O by Scholastic Press (2001)

              : Doc in the Fog by Shelia Cushman (Educational Insights, Carson, CA. 1990) for each student

3. Plastic lowercase letter box letters for teacher and each student : m,o,p,l,g,h,t,d,p,c,k,s.

4. Letterboxes for teacher and each student

5. Picture of a Doctor pushing down a patients tongue with Oo written on it.

6. Paper for making running record miscues

7. Pencil for making running record miscues


1. We know that each letter in the alphabet has its own sound.  Our mouth moves every time we say a letter. When we write words we use those sounds we hear to write down the letter that goes along with the sound. Today we are going to talk about the letter "o".  "o" sounds like /o/ . 

2. Have any of you ever gone to the Doctor?  Did the Doctor ever tell you to open your mouth and say /o/?  Did he ever put a stick in your mouth to push down your tongue and then make you say /o/?  Well when we say /o/ let's act like we are at the Doctor. Let's push our tongue down with our finger and open wide! Now say /o/. That is the sound that the letter "o" makes.

3. Now let's try a tongue twister. (Use the chart and point to each word as you say it).  Let me tell it to you "Oliver's octopus had an operation in October."   Did you hear the letter "o", /o/?  I heard it in Oliver. Did anyone hear it in octopus?  Great! Let's try our tongue twister together. "Oliver's octopus had an operation in October." Good  job! This time we are going to stretch out our /o/ sound (Point to the letter "o" on the chart while stretching the /o/ sound). Remember to act like you are the Doctor pushing down your own tongue. Open wide and say /o/.  Oooooliver's ooooctopus had an oooooperation in Oooooctober. Great…I heard some great Doctors out there!

4. We are now going to listen to see if we hear /o/ in words. I am going to tell you two words and you tell me which one has the /o/ sound.  If I said do you hear /o/ in cot or cat….the answer would be coooooot. I heard the /o/ in cot not cat. 

5. This time I want to see if you can listen carefully to hear those sounds. (Call on random students to answer questions)  Do you hear /o/ in Log or Lake? Clock or Cake? Stick or Rock? Ship or Shop?  Great!

6. Next, we are going to practice spelling and reading words.  We are going to use our letter box letters to help us.  Watch me lay out flat five boxes, one for each sound. When I say stomp, I hear the /o/ sound…stooomp.  That "o" I hear is in the middle of our word.  I hear 5 sounds. /s/, /t/, /o/, /m/, /p/.  Our "o" goes in our third box, it is our middle sound. What letter goes in our first box? Stomp. Sssss.  s, good, so I will put "s" in our first box. What comes next? Ssstt. I hear /t/. That’s a “t”. Now we have /s/, /t/, /o/. We are trying to spell the word stomp. What is that next sound you hear?  /m/.  Great. That is the letter "m". We are now going to put the letter "m" in our fourth box.  We hear five sounds and we put their four letters in our box. What is our last sound? Ssstttooommp. /p/. What letter do you hear? “p”.  We will now put the “p” in our last box. Let's sound out our word together (point to each letter as you say its sound). Sssstttooommpp.Great job! That is how we spell words.

7. We are going to read a book together and it has a lot of /o/ sounds. The title of the book is Olive the Octopus's Day of Juggling. Did you hear /o/? Where?  Every time you hear /o/, pretend you’re a Doctor pressing down your own tongue, /ooo/.  Olive starts with /o-o-o/ so does octopus. Olive wants to learn how to juggle. Let's read to see if she learns how to juggle and what happens if she juggles.

8. Now it is your turn to spell words.  Try it with me!  (pass out letters and letterboxes to each student) LBL words: log (3), hot (3), dot (3), pot (3), clock (4), stop (4), chomp (5).  (Do same procedure as in #7). Have student do it with teacher for a couple of words, then just help them verbally. Walk around to see if they are doing it correctly. 

9. I want you to know read words that I spell!  Here is the first word: cot. What is this word? Sound it out. Great. The word is cot. Let’s sound it out together. Cccooott. Here is our next word: mop. What is this word? Great. Sound it out for me while I point to each sound. Mmmmoooopp.

10. I want you to read a book with me (pass out book to each student).We are going to choral read  Doc in the Fog. I heard the /o/ sound.  What word did you hear it in? Doc? In? the? Fog?  (Have students say yes or no) Great! Doc has an "o" so does "fog".  Doc is a magician meaning he uses magic everyday. Let's read to see what kind of magic Doc will use.

 Assessment: Students will read Doc in the Fog chorally. The teacher will walk around and observe her students. If time allows the teacher can take running records on each student, reading Doc in the Fog.


Doc in the Fog by Shelia Cushman. Educational Insights, Carson, CA. 1990

 Olive the Octupus's Day of Juggling: The Letter O. Scholastic Press. 2001.

 Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/phonwords.html

Cummings, Amanda "/o/…I can't stop yawning!" 2007 http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/cummingsbr.html

Tew, Melanie. “It’s O-o-obvious you are sick.” 2006. 

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