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Beginning Reading

Say Ahhhh!

A Beginning Reading Lesson by Caroline Rush


This lesson teaches children the short vowel correspondence o=/o/. In order for children to be able to read, they must learn 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 (say “ahhh” for the doctor), they will spell and read words containing the spelling in a letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence o=/o/.


·       Picture of the capital and lowercase letter “O”.

·       Image of a child opening his mouth for the doctor, saying /o/

·       Whiteboard or smartboard letterboxes for modeling

·       Letterboxes for each student

·       Letter manipulatives for each student and smartboard letters for teacher:
      c, o, p, f, r, g, s, l, b, k, t, m

·       Poster with prompt written on it

·       Poster with each spelling word written on it: cop, frog, slob, clock, stop, plot, stomp, drog

·       Decodable text Doc in the Fog (one for each pair of students)

·       Assessment worksheet (one for each student)


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 a letter that we see and use every day, short o! [Show students capital and lowercase letter “O”]. We will learn about the sound short o makes and how our mouth looks when we say its sound. By the end of the lesson, we are going to be expert detectives and will be able to easily find the o = /o/ sound in many different words!

2. Say: When you go to the doctor and they look at your throat what sound do you make? That’s right, o-o-o-o-o-o-o (pronounced like ahhhhh). This is how we pronounce short /o/. [Show students image of child saying /o/ for the doctor]. So, when I say /o/ I think of going to the doctor and saying AAAHHHH while having my throat checked. To say /o/, your mouth opens up wide and makes the shape of an uppercase O. Can you see what my mouth is doing when I say /o/? [Make vocal gesture for /o/]. Now I want you to try. Pretend you are at the doctor and press your thumb in front of your mouth like this (pretend if thumb were a tongue depressor) and say AAAHHHH. Good job!

3. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /o/, we need to listen for it in a few words. I’ll show you first: mop. I heard /o/ says 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 mop. Now I will test to see if it is in the word football. 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 a big O shape. Now you try. Listen to the words I say and if you hear the /o/ sound open your mouth and press your thumb on your lip as if your doctor is looking down your throat. If you do not hear the /o/ sound close your mouth tight. Ready? Is it in clock, apple, octopus, ball, trot, blond?

4. Say: What if I want to spell the word frost? “There is frost covering the lawn”. To spell frost in letterboxes, I first need to know how many phonemes I have in the word. Lets stretch it out and count: /f//r//o//s//t/. There are 5 phonemes in frost, so I need five boxes. I heard the /o/ sound right before /s/ so I am going to put an o in the 3rd box. The word starts with /f/, so I need to put a f at the beginning. Let me say the word again slowly to see what I should put down next, /f//r//o//s//t/. That’s right, I heard the /o/ before /s/ so I am going to put a s in the 4th box after o. I also heard /t/ after the /s/ at the end of the word, so I am going to put a t in the 5th box. Now I only have one missing box – f    o  s  t. I am going to say the word slowly again to find what goes in the missing box: /f//r//o//s//t/ [point to the letters in boxes when stretching out the word]. The missing one is /r/ and I am going to put that in the 2nd box. I have spelled the word frost.

5. Say: Now you will try and spell some words in letterboxes. You will start out with three boxes for our first word cop. A cop arrived at the store after it was robbed. What letter would we put in the first box? What about the second box? The third box? I will check your spelling as I walk around the room. For our next word you will need four boxes. Make sure to listen carefully at the first sound to spell in the first box, and then for the /o/ sound and work from there. The word is frog. There is a frog swimming in the pond; frog. [Allow students to spell remaining words, giving sentences for each word: slob, clock, stop, plot, and stomp.]

6. Say: Now we are going to read the words that you just spelled, but first I will show you how I would read a difficult word. [Display poster with prompt on the top and model reading the word.] Let’s start with the letter o, which we know says /o/. Let’s add the beginning letters with it: p-r-o, /pro/. Now let’s add the letter after o, /m/. Now we have /pro-m/. Finally, I will put that chunk together with the ending sound /pt/, /prom-pt/. Oh, prompt, like “You should be prompt for class so your teacher will not be upset.” Now it’s your turn. When I hold up a word read it together. Let’s begin [hold up words written on posters]: cop, frog, slob, clock, stop, plot, stomp, and drog. [drog is the pseudoword]. When students are done reading the words in unison, call on individuals to read one word from the list until everyone has had a turn.]

7. Say: Great job reading words with our new spelling for /o/: o. We are now going to read a book called Doc in the Fog. This story is about a wizard named Doc who changes things! One day, while he was doing magic, a dark fog came around him. With the person next to you read Doc in the Fog to find out what will happen to Doc with the dark fog around him! [Students will take turns reading alternate pages with their partner while teacher walks around and monitors their progress. Once the students have finished reading, have the class read Doc in the Fog aloud together. Stop between pages to discuss the plot.]

8. After the students feel confident about their knowledge on o = /o/ give them the assessment worksheet. In this worksheet the students will compare circle and color the pictures whose words contain the short o sound.



Assessment worksheet:


Short Vowel Phonics Readers: Doc in the Fog by Sheila Cushman

“Say AHHHHH!” by Kate Clarke