Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sound Boxes (a.k.a. Elkonin Boxes)

Have you ever used sound boxes (otherwise known as Elkonin Boxes) in your classroom? Basically, it's a way to strengthen your students' phonological awareness by segmenting words into individual sounds. This will help with their spelling and reading. When using sound boxes, students will count the number of sounds (or phonemes) in a word, not letters. Each box represents one sound. That means that each box could have more than one letter. For example, the word chair would have three boxes (ch-ai-r). In first grade, I use them when teaching spelling, but you could also use them without including letters at all. I've seen them used with dot counters (students push a dot counter into each box as they segment a word orally).

Each month, I make a Sound Box "journal" for my students. I usually use the spelling patterns that we are using in class (but not necessarily the same words). There are always some students who memorize spelling words, and this is my way of helping them to really learn the phonetic patterns and develop their phonological awareness.

At the beginning of the year, most words only use 3 boxes but I have four available so they still have to count the phonemes and determine the number of sounds in the words themselves. They simply cross out the last box. After they sound out the word and write the letters in the boxes, they write a sentence using that word. They are expected to use the rules of writing that we have learned up to that point (at the beginning that is just capitals, periods, spaces). Then I pass out colored pencils and we make sure the words in the sound boxes are spelled correctly. That way I have a whole packet of information to use when report cards come out. I can look back and see how well they sounded out the words and I can use their sentences as an assessment too. Also, if I see a group of kids (or even just one) that are struggling with sound boxes, I know that I need to work more with them.

If you are interested in using sounds boxes, you can click on one of the pictures to download your freebie. 

I'd love to hear from you all. Do you use sound boxes? Do you have any tips/ideas for me? 

Click on the picture to download. 


  1. These are great! Thanks for sharing. I use sound boxes during the word work part of my guided reading groups. I was thinking I may laminate the ones you made and use dry erase markers (we have a copy paper issue in my district)


    1. I love the idea of laminating! Thanks:)

  2. I use them in page protectors with pictures and use bingo chips as we say the sounds-then after a week on the sounds for those words, They get a paper copy and write the sounds they hear inthe boxes

  3. Thanks for posting the sound box templates. I've been meaning to start using them in my first grade classroom, but hadn't gotten around to finding these!


  4. Sarah, I think you may have commented on my Shape Boxes Spelling Patterns font I created, but for anyone else out there that does this kind of stuff check it out. You will LOVE it because it makes the whole spelling pattern thing "click" with firsties:


    Happy New Year!


    1. Your font is amazing! I'm such a stalker of your clip art too! :)