Teaching students to read and write can be a tricky task, especially if you have more than one student at a time.
Students learn at different paces and can struggle with different concepts and rules. This can be particularly common with vowel sounds.
In the English language, there are so many different ways to pronounce and spell each of the vowel sounds. This can easily become confusing for students. When this happens, it is easy for both students and teachers to become frustrated trying to find a solution.
Thankfully, we have put together some strategies and resources to help you and your students better understand short O sounds.
What Is The Short O Sound?
Every vowel can make either a long or a short sound. The sound that a vowel makes often depends on what is going on around it in terms of letters and teams of letters.
The short O sound is found in words such as hot, stop, pot, and frog. There are also plenty of words that begin with the short O sound, such as ox, odd, and olive.
Words that begin with the short O sound are some of the most common words that teachers use to introduce the sound to students.
This is effective because it highlights the sound rather than letting it get muddled in with other sounds in a word.
Highlighting or isolating the short O sound at the start of a word can be useful when practicing the sound with your child. Begin by stating the word aloud and asking your child to repeat the first sound in the word (the short O sound).
You can then ask them to identify the letter that makes the O sound. This can form a strong foundation for practicing the short O sound in more complex words.
We will look at practicing the short O sound in more detail below. However, as a general teaching note, make sure that your child or student has mastered the short O sound at the start of a word before moving on to short O sounds in the middle of words.
This will help to prevent confusion and ultimately speed up the learning process.
What Does The Short O Sound Look Like?
A large part of teaching sounds and language to someone is the way a sound looks. This doesn’t mean the way that the sound is written phonetically.
Rather it means the shape that your mouth needs to make in order to make the correct sound. Without making the correct shape, it is going to be difficult to create the right sound.
In order to make the short O sound, the lower jaw should be lowered and the tongue should be positioned low and flat in the mouth. When you are teaching this to children, it is a good idea to have them practice in front of a mirror.
This helps them to see how their mouth is moving when they make the short O sound. It can also help children learn how to correct their mouth movements if they aren’t quite getting the sound right.
How To Read The Short O Sound
When children are first learning how to read, they are most likely to come across the short O sound in consonant-vowel-consonant form.
This means that the short O sound is located within the word rather than at the beginning. The types of words that your student or child is likely to encounter include frog, pop, cot, and rob.
Because these CVC words are short, it is easy to sound them out to help your child learn the correct pronunciation.
However, as your child’s reading and decoding skills increase and their confidence builds, they will encounter longer words such as spot, block, chop, and drop.
In these words, the short O sound will begin to appear with letter blends. This can make the concept of the short O sound more complicated. Patience may be required for this stage of learning.
As you move on to more complex words, your child is also likely to come across the short O sound in words but with a different spelling.
This will likely only occur when they are already familiar with the sound. However, to prepare yourself for the questions that come with different spellings, it is important to understand the spellings that you may come across.
The short O sound can also be spelled with “au”, “aw”, and “al”. Examples of such words include caught, saw, and talk respectively.
What Are The Short O Word Families?
In order to successfully teach your child about the short O sound and how to read and write it, you need to know about the short O word families. A word family is essentially a set of words that end in the same spelling pattern.
This can be a useful tool to utilize when you are trying to teach your child how to read. The word families can help your child to recognize patterns in the words that they read and how different sounds can be made with different combinations of letters.
Below are the short O sound word families.
As your child’s reading and comprehension skills improve, they will move on to the more complex word families such as:
Although it might be tempting to include “or” words in the word families, they actually don’t fit into this category. Instead, they belong to their very own category called “r-controlled vowels”.
These are neither long nor short vowels. In a similar vein, “ow” is considered to be a vowel team. This combination of letters makes a different sound entirely from a short O sound.
Seeing the different word families written in a list can be helpful for new readers to practice making different sounds and decoding. An example of this can be made with the -og word family. Words in this family include:
Short O Decodable Text
As a reader, you know that there is much more to reading than simply reading a single word.
In order to be able to read properly, your students need to be able to decode multiple words in a sentence and identify the sounds that the letters make.
An easy way to help your child learn to read multiple words in a sentence is to begin to ramp up the number of words that make up the sentence.
To do this, begin by getting your child to read a single word that uses the short O sound. You should then add some more words that feature the same short O sound.
It is important that these words form a coherent sentence rather than just being a string of random words.
Some examples of short O decodable text are provided below.
- Tod got a hot pot.
- Rod jogs on a log
- Rod hops on top of a box.
Each of the sentences in the short O decodable text above features exclusively CVC words(see also: Short A Sounds: Word Lists, Decodable Texts & Practice Activities). Once your student is confident with the CVC words with a short O sound, you can begin to introduce some sentences that feature short O sounds with consonant blends.
Below are some examples of short O decodable texts that use consonant blends.
- Rob got a glob of snot.
- The frog flops on a log.
- Bob plods to a stop.
The decoding texts that have been used as examples in this text do not include the words and, the, and is. This is to highlight the short O sound words.
However, coming up with sentences that do not include these specific words can be incredibly difficult. This is because they are high-frequency words in English. Because they are high-frequency, your children are likely to have already come across them a lot.
In fact, these words are often some of the first words that children memorize. Because of this, you shouldn’t shy away from including them in your decodable text practice.
You will be on hand to help guide your child if they do get stuck on these words.
Short Vowel Practice Activities
The one thing that makes learning happen as quickly as possible is practice. However, practice can only go so far if it isn’t engaging and fun for your children.
Below are some fun and interesting ideas for practice activities to keep your child stimulated and focused on learning short O sounds.
CVC Word Cards
When it comes to learning the short O sounds, it is more important to make sure that your student understands the spelling pattern than ensuring they can read a single word (see also: Understanding VCCV Words And Patterns)containing a short O sound.
It is also important to make sure that your student can recognize the sound that a short O makes when it is in a longer word.
A fun and interactive way to help your child practice this skill is by making CVC word cards. All you need to do is print a CVC word on a piece of paper.
On the other side of the paper, there should be a picture that represents the word. For example, for the word dog, you would have a picture of a dog on the reverse side of the card.
Once you have made cards for a range of CVC words with the short O sound, arrange them into a pile with the image side facing up. Encourage your child to name the item in the picture.
Get them to repeat the word as many times as necessary until they can identify the vowel sound. Keep going until all the words are familiar to the child.
As your child begins to learn the different vowel sounds, this game can be expanded to include all of the vowel sounds.
When the game is bigger, you can get your child to sort the different vowel sounds into their respective groups as a sorting game.
Read And Draw Short O Sentences
This is a fun little activity that allows your child to get creative with their practice and reading.
For this activity, you will need to write or find some sentences that feature short O words. The sentences can be as complex or simple as is suitable for your child.
Once you have created your sentences, ask your child to read the sentences. You can get them to repeat the sentence until they get the pronunciation right.
Once they have finished the sentence, you can test their comprehension by asking them to draw what they just read. The more complex the sentence was, the more detailed the picture will be.
This can be a great way for you to gain a better understanding of your child’s comprehension to ensure that they are getting the most out of their lessons.
Tips To Practice Short O Words
As with anything with reading and writing, short O sounds can take a little while for some children to get.
Because of this, it is important that you are making the most of the practice that your child does. Making them sit for hours repeating a sound over and over isn’t going to help them learn to love reading.
The most important thing to remember when you are practicing short O words or any other sounds is to keep things interesting.
There are plenty of resources available to help you find different activities that are going to keep your child engaged long enough to get the biggest benefit from the practice.
Sometimes it will take a little bit of trial and error to find activities that work for your child.
There are so many different ways that you can teach your child about short O sounds.
No matter what level your child is at, there are fun and interactive activities that you can use to help them make the most of their lessons and practice.
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