Say /o/ for the Doctor!

A Beginning Reading Lesson

Devin Baumgarten


Rationale: This lesson teaches children the short vowel correspondence o=/o/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the letter o. They will learn a meaningful representation (saying "AH" for the doctor), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence o=/o/.



-Picture of a child opening his mouth for the doctor, saying "/o/"

-Cover-up critter

-Whiteboard Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual use

-Elkonin boxes for each student

-Letter manipulatives for each child

-Magnetic letters for teacher: m, o, p, d, r, s, t, c, k, p, l, f, g, t, n, b

-List of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: mop, drop, stock, plot, mad, frog, strong, trap, prompt

-Decodable text: A Hot Spot

-Assessment worksheet: ATTACHED AT BOTTOM



 1. Say: “In order to become great readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Today we are going to learn about short O. When I say /o/ I think of being at the doctor and opening my mouth for the doctor to look at my throat. When we do that we say "o-o-o-o-o" (pronounced like "ahhh").” I will show the picture for a doctor looking at the child’s throat and ask the students to say the sound /o/.


2. Say: “Before we learn about the spelling of /o/, we need to listen for it in a few words. When I say /o/ my mouth opens and makes the shape of an uppercase O. [Make vocal gesture for /o/.] I’ll show you first: flop. I heard /o/ say its name and I felt my mouth open to make a big o [make a circle motion around opened mouth]. There is a short o in flop. Now I’m going to see if it’s in snore. Hmm, I didn’t hear the sound I make when I open my mouth for the doctor and my lips didn’t open and make the big o shape. Now you try. If you hear /o/ open your mouth and stick your tongue out like the doctor is looking at your throat and say /o/. If you don’t hear /o/ close your mouth tight. We can’t make the /o/ sound with your mouths closed. Is it in blockstrongpantsclocknosespot?”


3. Say: “Whaif I want to spell the word stomp? "Jim likes to stomp his feet." To spell stomp in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out ancount: /s/t/o/m/p/. I need 5 boxes. I heard that /o/ just before the /m/ so I’m going to put an o in the 3rd boxThe word starts with /s/, so I neea s at the beginning. After /s/ I hear /t/ in stomp, so I will put a T after the S. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word]. I now have /s/t/o/. I still have two blank boxes. After /o/ I hear [say the word out loud, dragging the last two syllables out "stommmppp"] /m/ and /p/. M and P go in the last two boxes.  I have spelled the word stomp.”


4. Say: “Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out with three boxes for mop. I mop the floor when my dog comes inside with dirty paws; mop. What should go in the first box? [Respond as students answer]. What goes in the second box? What goes in the third box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need four letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that goes in the first box. The word is drop. She will drop the bags if they are too heavy; drop. [Allow children to spell words.] Time to check your work. Watch how I spell it in my letterboxes on the board: d-r-o-p and see if you’ve spelled it the same way. Try another with four boxes: block; He only needs one more block to complete the tower. Ask when students are done: ‘Did you remember that the /k/ sound makes one sound but we use the letters c and k together to make the /k/ noise. [Have volunteer spell it in the letterbox on the front board for children to check their work. Repeat this step for each new word.] (Also have students spell plot and frog). Now let’s try 5 phonemes: strong; Only a strong person can lift heavy weights at the gym. One more then we’re done with spelling, and this time you need six boxes. This is harder word I bet you all can do it! Prompt; the picture is a helpful prompt to answer the question. Remember to stretch it out to get this tough word.”


5. Say: “Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled, but first I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with frost on the top and model reading the word.] This is how I would know how to read the word without the letter boxes. I start by covering up every letter except the /o/ in the middle, and say /o/ like I am at the doctor. [I will uncover and blend the letter before and after the vowel]. I add the /f/ and /r/ sounds at the beginning and blend that with /o/. Now I have /f/-/r/-/o/. After the /o/ sound I hear the /s/ sound. After I add the s I get /f/-/r/-/o/-/s/. Finally, I add the last sound, /t/, that is at the very end of the word. So now I have /f/-/r/-/o/-/s/-/t/. Oh, frost, like frost that forms on my car when it’s cold outside. Frost. Now it’s your turn, everyone together.” [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6. Say: Youve done a greajob at reading words with our new spelling for /o/: o. Now we are going to read a book called A Hot Spot.  This is the story of a boy named Tim who has accidentally spilled his mom’s drink on a hot day. He has to get a job to get her more to drink. With your shoulder partner read A Hot Spot to find out if Tim and his family are able to cool down.” [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads A Hot Spot aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]


7. Assessment:

Say: “On this worksheet, there are four pictures and beside each object there is a list of three words. You are going to look at the three word choices, and decide which word goes with the picture. First, try reading all the words listed, then choose the word that is best. Make sure to go back and check your work to make sure your choices make sense. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]



Yow, Caroline: "Open Your Mouth Wide…/o-o-o/"


Barron, Anne: "What Does the Doctor Say? Ah!!!”


Murray, G: "Oh, I didn’t know!"

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Assessment worksheet:

I created my own assessment and did not find it on the Internet. It is attached below:






Directions: Circle the correct word for each picture.