Lesson Plans that Unlock Adventures: How to Best Create Them

Orton Gillingham lesson plans are the keys to unlocking learning adventures for our students.  We don’t want to go into lessons just winging it, right?

But, how are lesson plans created?

Some questions we may ask: What should always be included? How many parts should be in the lesson? What is too much and what’s too little to fit in the timeframe?

Let’s answer some of these questions.


A lesson can be between 45 minutes to an hour. A Scope and Sequence should be used to guide the order in which the letters and concepts are taught.

Orton Gillingham is usually individualized to a student, so one student’s lesson may look different than another student’s lesson. In a classroom situation, a teacher should have small groups and give as much individual attention as possible.

How Does OG Work

Orton Gillingham is cumulative. This approach starts with the most basic letter sounds, called phonemes, and builds upon that to incorporate the entire English language. This includes letter reading and spelling, blends, spelling rules, syllable division, sight words, generalizations, silent letters, plurals, possessives, contractions, homonyms, accenting, prefixes and suffixes, Latin connectives, Greek words, and more.

When kids today start learning with Orton Gillingham (OG) and finish with OG, they will have a broad understanding of the English language.

What a pre-K and Kindergartener will learn is very different than what an older child or an adult will learn, so lessons can be a wide range of material.

What Should Go In Every Lesson?

Included in every lesson should be a few key things.

Review concepts 

Review what your student(s) worked on in the previous lesson(s).

Learned Words

Learned words consist of “red, yellow and green” words. Check out the SOS Spelling Technique for this section.

What are Red, Yellow & Green Words?

Red Words are sight words that cannot be sounded out, they are unphonetic.

Yellow Words grouped by auditory patterns, for example: light, sight, might, or all, alk, augh vs. ough, eigh, oe saying long o, as in toe or ea saying long a as in steak, great, break.

Other Yellow Light words are high-frequency words that are learned early. These can include:

Everyday Words – days of the week, months, family names, seasons, holidays, colors, name, address, states

Homonyms – examples whole/hole, through/threw, since/sense, their/there, to/two/too, sail/sale, great/grate, hair/hare, break/brake

Green Words can be spelled by listening to the sounds, for example, stop, bland, napkin. These are phonetic words.


You can do more with dictation than just words, sentences, and phrases. You can dictate syllables, and syllable patterns, or have students write the vowels of the sounds you are saying. In other words, use dictation to go more in-depth with concepts.

During dictation is a good time to cover grammar and sentence type (nouns, verbs pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections).

Oral Reading

Oral reading can be decodable stories and passages, but it can also include the reading of sight words, phrases and sentences, or anything. What a student writes, they read.

Error and Comments

This is for the tutor/teacher’s eyes only. During the lesson, make observations. Was there a part of the lesson where the student(s) had trouble keeping attention or retrieving information? Record errors and trouble spots to be reviewed in the next section.

Other Parts of a Lesson

These are parts of a lesson that can be included, but may not appear in every lesson.

Drills for phonological awareness

Phonological awareness is broad, encompassing many different parts of spoken language. Phonemic awareness is narrow, boiled down to just identifying and manipulating individual sounds in words. There are drills for both.

Drills include:

Drill decks. You show cards and students say the sound and keyword. Present them as fast as possible and shuffle the cards occasionally.

Spelling dictation – you say sounds and student writes the letter(s) for each sound

Spelling sounds, example, long a, you say Take, and the student writes, a_e, “Steak” and the student writes “ea” for the sound. Or “Eight” student writes “eigh” for sound.

Use phonics wheels.

Syllable types concepts and division

Syllable types are a big part of Orton Gillingham teaching. Syllable types lead to syllable division, and syllable division leads to reading fluency.

Drills include:

Clap syllables to words (rab bit – clap-clap)
Concepts of syllable types and/or division exercise
Ask students to label different types of syllables
Ask them to divide words and indicate the division method

Letter Formation

Handwriting practice. Orton Gillingham is a fan of cursive writing because it lessens the chance of letter reversals.

Here is a resource for cursive writing

New Concept

Introduce a new concept. With any concept, you may need to introduce it several times.

These are index cards I give to students along with a ring. When I introduce a concept, I give the student a card to include on their ring. They ended up with a deck of the concepts of everything from REVLOC to the rules, like C&G, FLOSS, etc. You can also divide the rings into categories and have separate rings for each, or just have one big ring.


Grammar is something to incorporate into the lesson plan, not a stand-alone part of the plan. If you want to have a special grammar session, that’s fine, but this is something that should be discussed often, it’s not a one-and-done. A great time to have a grammar lesson is during dictation.

Grammar would include:

  • Parts of speech, including nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections
  • Punctuation, including commas, possessives, contractions, and quotes
  • Capitalization, including proper name
  • Sentence types, including declarative, commands, interrogative, and imperative
  • Sentence structure, including simple, compound, and complex verbs (singular, plural and irregular)

Here is a good grammar resource.


There is an acronym helpful for writing – MOPSS.

This stands for:

M= Makes sense
O = Oreo – a beginning, middle and end
P = Punctuation and Capitalization
S = Sentence Structure
S = Spelling

Writing should include Brainstorm, Chart (outline), Writing a Draft, and MOPSS (edit using MOPSS) for a final draft.

Here is a sheet I created for helping students with writing a story.

Where to Start With Lessons

I usually start from the beginning of my scope and sequence. I do this because I find that even older kids do not know that letters make more than one sound. They were not taught some of the basic spelling rules, like short vowel rules, which accelerates learning. And, OG is very auditory in its teaching. Most students were not taught this way. Auditory learning also accelerates the process.

I do use assessments. For formal assessments I use Gallistel-Ellis. For informal assessments, I like to use my packets and readers. These are targeted worksheets and decodable readers I can have the student complete and I can go back to them later and see if there has been improvement.

A Final Word

Just like people are different, each student is different and each person’s lesson ideas and plans can differ. Lesson plans are a mixture of using the guidance from a scope and sequence, using what should be in every plan, and inputting the appropriate material based on the concept being taught, being mindful of Orton Gillingham’s three-prong approach of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic, and YOU – your expertise is a very important part of the mix.

You know your students, you know their pace, their ability, and their diagnoses (if you are using OG with special needs). You are the conduit between the information and the connection to your students. For this adventure, the Scope and Sequence is the ship, but YOU are the captain!

What keeps this channel going? The Workbook and Worksheets Store!

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