The Doctor Says “Say aaaaahhhhh”

Beginning Reading


                                                                                                                                              Michelle Jones         


For students to become successful readers they must learn the important vowel correspondences. This lesson will help children identify /o/ and the phoneme represented by o. Students will learn to recognize /o/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation (sound you make when a doctor looks down your throat), practice finding /o/ in words, read short /o/ word in letter boxes and further their skills with reading Under the Big Top and an assessment sheet for further practice.


Teacher supplies:

·        small whiteboard (with permanent primary paper outline on it)

·        expo marker

·        eraser

·        Poster board with tongue tickler written on it

·        List of words: Frog, stop, mop, tip, fog, bed, trot, moss, bat

·        highlighter

Supplies Per student:

·        1 popsicle stick

·        2 sheets of primary paper

·        2 pencils

·        Letter boxes and Letters: f, r, o, g, s, t, p, m, I, b, e, d, t, r, s, a

·        Copy of Under the Big Top

·        Paper with tongue tickler printed on it

·        Highlighter



1.” In order to become expert readers we need to learn the secret code that tells us how to pronounce words. Today we are going to work on the short vowel o, like in the word top. When I think of o I think of when I go to the doctor. My doctor always says “say aaahh” and he sticks a Popsicle stick on my tongue and then I say “aahh”.  [Show graphic image] Let’s try that together. Everyone get your Popsicle sticks and place it in the middle of your tongue {model for students} now let’s say “aaahh”. Great job guys. Let’s try that a few more times. Now let’s try it without the Popsicle stick, good job! Today we are going to learn the special sound that o makes, what it looks like, how to write it, how to hear it whenever we talk, and how to recognize it whenever we read.”

2. “We spell o with the letter o. Let’s see if we can find o in this tongue twister. {Display poster board with tongue twister}. “We like to hop on top of Pop.” {Hand out tongue tickler paper and highlighter to students] Let’s look at this again together. Raise your hand if you see a letter O in this tongue tickler.” [When the student points out an o they are supposed to say the sound the letter o makes and then say the word. Next the whole group would highlight the letter o they just pointed out. This is continued until the all the letter o’s are recognized. Then the tongue tickler is read again by the whole group.

3. “Now that we know what o sounds like let’s write it. [All students get paper and pencil ready] This is how we write the letter o [demonstrate on whiteboard while giving verbal directions]. "Start just below the fence. First write a little c then close it up. Now let’s try writing o. I am going to show you guys how to write it one more time, watch closely. [Demonstrate again] After I check your paper and tell you that you've done it right I want you to write ten more perfect o's like the ones you just did.”

4. "Now we are going to use out letter boxes to spell words with the /o/ sound, but we will also review some words with other vowels so we can hear and see the difference in these vowels and the short o vowel. Before we start let’s make the o sound a few times. Good job.” [Pass out the letters and boxes needed] “What if I want to spell the word mop?  "My mom makes me mop." To spell mop in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /m//o//p/. Now I know I need 3 boxes. The first sound I hear is /m/, the word starts with /m/, so in my first box I'm going to put a m. Next I heard that /o/ right after the /m/ so I'm going to put an o in the 2nd box. Let's say the word again slowly stretching out the sounds. Mmmmoooooooppppp .I think I heard /p/ at the end right after the /o/ so I'll put a p right after the o to end my word. Now, I want you to try some.  As I call out a word, I want you to put the letters in your boxes. If you need help raise your hand and I will help you.   Remember to count the phonemes so you will know how many boxes you need.”

5. Now, I am going to write some of the words we just spelled with our letters on the board.  I want you to read them aloud to me together.  If you hear the “aaahhh” sound in the word, I want you to give me thumbs up and if you don’t hear it I want you to give me a thumbs down. Let’s practice a word together. [Write the word log on the board].  This word says, mop.  See how our o is in the middle.  This says /o/.  It starts with /m/ and ends with /p/.  Put it all together and this says mop.  (Thumbs up).  Now you try.  [Write the words from the letterboxes on the board]. 

6. Next I will have the students to whisper read the book, In the Big Top while I observe their reading. "This book is about a family who wants to go to the circus.  They want to bring a lot of things and a lot of people to the circus with them, but they only have one little car to get them there. Can everyone and everything fit? Will they make it to the Circus?” After the students have finished reading the book I will have them go back and pick one word from each page that has the o sound and write it on their second sheet of primary paper.

7. For the assessment I will pass out a worksheet that requires them to have understanding of the letter o sound to complete successfully. I will also use their activity they did with the book In the Big Top, to further assess their knowledge of the sound o.



Murray, Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition.

Leslie Sidwell O'Neal. Hop on Pop - Short 'o'.


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