Yawning With an Open Mouth: Short o

yawning smiley

Beginning Reading

Shelly Roark

Rationale: In order for children to become skillful readers, they must have a strong understanding of phonemes. Short vowels are among the first letter sound correspondences to be taught in beginning reading. This lesson is designed to help students recognize o=/o/ in written and spoken words. Students will also learn to read and spell words with o=/o/ through practice with a letterbox lesson, and by reading a new book.

Materials: -Letterboxes: set of 3, 4, and 5 for each student and for the teacher

-Letterbox letters for each student and teacher: (o,m, p, d, g, c, l, c, k, b, b, f, r, s, i, n, s, t)

-Picture of person yawning, poster board with tongue twister: Oliver had an operation in October and Oscar gave him an octopus.

- primary paper


-Copy of In the Big Top for each student

-Worksheet of a box with words in it. The students must circle the words with the short "o" sound in them and then write those words in alphabetical order underneath the box. Words: dog, mom, go, bone, frog, got, log, no, hot, we, home, and note (the students must choose from these words and determine which ones have the /o/ sound in them.



1.     Begin by showing the students the letter o on the SMARTboard.  Can anyone tell me what letter this is? Does anyone know what sound this letter makes? This letter sounds like the "ahh" sound you hear when a person yawns. Now let's look at this picture of a person yawning (show on smart board) and imagine the sound you or someone you know makes when they yawn. Also, think about the shape of their mouth when they yawn. It is in an "o" shape, right? That is another way that you can remember that short o makes the "ahh" yawning sound. Model the sound for the students while stretching the o = /o/ sound out. Have the class repeat it.

2.    Next, I will show the students the tongue twister on the SMARTboard. Now, I am going to read this silly sentence and want you to listen carefully because I want you to repeat it after me.  Tongue twister: Oliver had an operation in October, and Oscar gave him an octopus.  I will then read the sentence slowly stretching out the o and making the "o" shape with my mouth while pretending to yawn..  Now it's your turn, read the pretending and thinking about the yawning "ahh" /o/ sound. "Oooooliver had an ooooperation in Ooooctober, and Ooooscar gave him an ooooctupus." Did you hear the yawning "ahh" sound when we said words like Oliver and octopus? I want you to think of this silly tongue tickler each time you see a word that makes the yawning "ahh", /o/ sound.

3.    Next, I am going to say some words and I want each of you to listen for the special /o/ sound in the words.  I will read both words and then call on good listeners who raise their hands to tell me which word has the creaky door sound in it. So, everybody put on your listening ears and your thinking caps and let's find the yawning "o" words!


    Clock or watch

      Cat or dog

     Mop or sweep

     Camel or frog

     Mary or Bob

Raise your hand if you can tell me a word that has the o=/o/ sound in it. I will repeat the word and we will say it as a class together.

4.    We are now going to use our letterboxes to practice spelling words with the short o yawning sound. Everyone take out their letterboxes and all the lower case letters. Watch me as I show an example of how to use our letterboxes. I have placed three boxes on the SMARTboard, so this means that there are going to be three sounds in my word. This also means that our mouths are only going to move three times to say this word. Here is the first word… dog. Let's see I hear /d/ first, what letter makes that sound? That's right- D! So d goes in the first letterbox. Next I hear the /o/ yawning sound in the middle so the letter o goes in my middle letterbox. Let me see you make a yawning /o/ mouth as we put the o in the letterbox. Last, I hear /g/ at the end so, what letter makes that sound? g. You all are so smart!


I want you to use the letters you have in front of you to spell the following words. Everyone open his or her boxes to three squares. The words are mop, Bob, and log (I will say a sentence with each word and place the word on the SMARTboard for everyone to check their spellings after giving them sufficient time after each word to spell). Let's also try a couple of review words: sit, and spring. Next let's try our four letter words: spot, flop, cross, and blob. Last let's try a big word with five different sounds: frost. Now let's blend. Great job everyone on all of your spellings!

5.    Using the overhead, I will spell some of the words they previously spelled, and allow them to read them. I will pay close attention to each student to assess whether or not the child is able to read each word.  If a child cannot read a word, I will use body-coda blending to facilitate reading.  For example, "For the word dog, I first would start with /o/, then add the /d//e/-/g/, and finally add the end of the word /do/g/- /dog/." Read it with me. Fantastic job class! You are blowing me away!

6.    Next, I will introduce the decodable text: "In the Big Top."  Have you ever been to a circus before?  Well in this book, a family decides to go to a circus and they find a super cool car that they all want to get into. The only problem is that the car is so small that they may not be able to all fit inside of it. Do you think all of the family will be able to fit inside of the tiny car? You will have to read to find out! Have the children break up into groups to read "In the Big Top". The students will take turns reading to each other while I walk around and listen to them read. I will watch each child in the room read a page and take notes as they read.

7.    Finally, we are going to write a message about the octopus that Oscar gave Oliver. The octopus's name is Oval and his/her favorite color is orange. I want you to write a sentence about Oval's favorite foods that are all her favorite color, orange.  Remember (model on overhead), this is how we write our /o/. They can use inventive spelling to write the words.


As I go around hearing and noting miscues of each student reading, I will be able to check each child's reading level by anecdotal notes that I will collaborate throughout the semester to check reading progress.  The students will be given a worksheet with a box with many words in it, some containing the o = /o/ sound in them.  The goal will be to circle the word that contains this sound. After they have circled the words they will write the words under the box to practice writing the lowercase o. They will write the words with the /o/ sound in them in alphabetical order. This will help them review and have practice with the order of the alphabet and spellings of words. After they have written the word on paper, they will then spell the words into their individual letterboxes.



·        Boutwell, Grace. "Ehhh…What did you say?"

·        Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. (1999) The Letterbox Lesson: A hands on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

·        Worksheet: http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/phonics/short-o-abc_OOOOO.pdf

·        Book:  Cushman, Sheila. In the Big Top. Carson, CA: Educational Insights.

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