Sound boxes (also called “Elkonin boxes”) help kids strengthen pre-reading skills by teaching them how to identify and replace phonemes in words. The word “cat”, for instance, has three phonemes: /c/ /a/ and /t/.

Our mega pack of 114 sound boxes are a playful, hands-on way to practice sounding out common 2, 3 and 4 phoneme words.

Grab your pack in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!  For more word fun, check out our best-selling Editable Sight Words Games in our shop!

Getting Ready

To prep the Elkonin Boxes, I simply printed the cards on cardstock, cut along the lines to separate the pieces, and slid them through the laminator to give them extra durability and make them reusable.

The cards can be used on their own by having kids tap the boxes with their finger, or you can add some variety by trying out different manipulatives.

For this first round of play, I thought Little Sister (age 3) would like sounding out phonemes with LEGO DUPLO bricks and balls of playdough so I grabbed our stash of both and invited her over to join me.

Elkonin Boxes

The pack of Elkonin cards includes 114 different cards showing words with 2, 3 and 4 phonemes.

Since it was Little Sister’s first time around, I had her pick from the stack of 2 and 3 phoneme words.

She flipped over “run” first. After saying the word out loud normally, I placed a small ball of playdough on each square and showed her how to squish a ball each time she said a new phoneme.

“R” (I squished the playdough in the green square.)

“U” (Squish.)

“N” (Squish.)

Little Sister thought that looked fun so we swapped out the balls of dough and she gave it a go too.

Squish balls of playdough for each phoneme.

One card after the next, we worked together to sound out the phonemes in each word.

Over the next few days of practice, she slid LEGO DUPLO bricks.

Slide in a LEGO brick as kids say each phoneme.

Clipped small clothespins into place, slid counting chips and wrote Xs in each square with a dry erase marker, and drove Matchbox cars.

Slide Matchbox cars into place as kids identify each phoneme.

The Elkonin Boxes were a fun, hands-on way to teach her how to name and replace phonemes in a snap!

Extension Ideas

  • Have a child say the word out loud. Then name one of the sounds – either the beginning, middle or end. Ask the student to slide her manipulative into the box where she hears that sound. For instance, in the run example above, if you named the /n/ sound, she would slide only one manipulative into the third box.
  • Add an extra challenge by having kids swap out one of the sounds in a word with a different sound. For instance, ask the child to change the /r/ sound for /b/, making the word “bun”.

Grab Your Pack

Snag your pack of 114 Elkonin boxes in our shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Then, snag our best-selling Editable Sight Words Games for endless word practice!

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