"Say 'Ahhhh!'" Says the Doctor


Beginning Literacy

Jessica Wilson


Rationale: One of the most important things about learning to read is the ability to decode. Students must have a thorough knowledge of vowel correspondences in order to successfully decode. The best place to begin is with the short vowels. This lesson will bring students into a better understanding of recognizing and decoding the O = /o/ vowel correspondence in spoken words. Opening the mouth and saying "ahh" as if at a doctor checkup will be used as a meaningful representation of this correspondence to better help the student succeed in a better knowledge of decoding using this correspondence. Through this lesson students will learn the meaningful representation, practice using the /o/ correspondence through a letterbox lesson, and fully read a book focusing on this correspondence on their own.

Materials Needed:

-Primary paper

-Elkonian Box (Letterboxes) - one for each student

-Picture of child at doctor (the picture at the top of this page)


-Paper with list of words from LBL (mop, toss, rot, stop, crop)

-In the Big Top  decodable text



1. Say: Everything we say and everything we read is like a secret message. Just like cracking a code in a puzzle, we can crack a code in reading. This is an important strategy to learn because it will help us in decoding words we may not know! The purpose of our lesson today is to teach us how to do this. Today we are going to learn to crack the code O=/o/. Can you take your primary paper and draw me a letter O? Great job. You know the letter O says /O/, but the letter O also says /o/. Pretend like you're at the doctor for a sore throat. Sometimes the doctor will say "Open up and say 'Ahhh'". That sound that you make, "ahhhh", is a sound that this O makes sometimes. Let's look at our letterbox and I'll show y'all some examples.

2. Right now we are going to use three of our letterboxes. Now, I'm going to take the letter O and put it right here in this middle square. Now whenever you guys see O I want you to open your mouth up wide just like at the doctor and say "ahhhhh". Good! Alright, I'm going to put this M in front of the O. Now what do we have? Mmmmmooooooo. What if I add this P on the end? Now we have Mmmmmoooooppppp. Say it with me, Mmmmooooopppp. Mop. Great!

3. Alright so now that y'all know what we are going to say when we see the letter O, I want you to tell me the sounds that the letters make that I move in the boxes. Let's start. I'll take the O first. Now I'm going to put this R in front of it. Rrrrooooo. Good job! Now what do I have if I add this T at the end? Rrrrrooooootttt.  You guys are absolutely right. Alright. I'm going to take away all of the letters except O. What sound does our O make again? Oooooo, good. Okay, I am going to put the T here in front and SS in the same box. SS just makes a long "sssssssss" sound like a snake. By pretending we're at the doctor, what does this say? Ttttttoooooosssssss. Great job!! Okay, now let's add a box to where we have 4 boxes. Alright, we have our O in the middle box. I'm going to put S in the first box and T in the second. Ssssttttooooooo. Good. Now, when I add a P what do I have? Sttttooooooppp. Okay, one more word! We have our O in the middle box. In the first box we have C and in the second box we have R. I'm going to put P in the last box. Alright, so what does this word say? Remember to pretend you're at the doctor! Ccccrrrrroooooppp. Great job! Y'all did so well on this Letterbox lesson.

4. Okay, now let's practice what we just did in our letterbox lesson. I want y'all to take your pencils and paper and I want you guys to write down the words we went over. I am going to say the word and I want you to spell it for me. You can use the letter tiles first but then I want you to write it down, too. Okay let's begin. Mop. Mmmmoooopppp. Good! The next word is rot. Rrrroooootttt. Remember what letter makes the sound from the doctor? O! Good! Great job spelling that word. Alright, toss. Tttttooooosssss. Good! I like how you guys are using your letter tiles. Make sure you write it down after you spell it with your letter tiles. Okay, now the next word is stop. Sssttttooooopppp. Great! Alright last one is crop. Ccccrrrrroooooopppp. Perfect! You spelled the words correctly and I liked how some of you were using our representation like we were at the doctor's office.

5. Now as one more way to practice I am going to show y'all a list of all the words we worked on and you just spelled. I am going to point to them and I want us to read them together. Mop, rot, toss, stop, crop. Great job!

6. Alright you have done such a wonderful job today. I think we can all read a book together using this sound we learned. This book is called "In the Big Top". Now this story talks about a family that wants to go to the circus but their car is too small to fit them all there! How will they get there when they start piling everyone in? Will everyone even fit and, most importantly, will they make it to the circus at all? Let's find out. Try your best and while I take some notes. Okay, are y'all ready? Let's begin!

7. The students will be reading the whole text "In the Big Top" by themselves. They will read aloud quietly while I listen and take miscue notes. This will be our means of assessment during this lesson.


I will be assessing the students by listening to the way that they read in our last procedure. The notes that I will be taking will be miscue notes for the students to help me better understand what correspondences and what strategies they need extra practice in.


Murray, Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/letters.html

Cushman, Sheila. (1990). Decodable book:  In the Big Top.  Educational Insights.  Carson City, CA

Johnson, Holly. "Open Wide and say Ahhhhh" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/johnsonhbr.htm

Ogubie, Alexis. "Oscar the Octopus Operates" 2007. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/encounters/ogubiebr.html

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