Do you have a child who’s working on learning how to read, spell, and sound out words? Elkonin boxes are a great way to practice strong phonics skills. Use this Elkonin boxes printable with your kids (or students) who are learning to segment & blend phonemes.
Learning to read is hard. And it’s harder for some kids to get the hang of than it is for others.
My oldest son learned to read fairly easily, but my middle son had a heck of a hard time learning how to read. I read to him for hours on end just like all the teachers and other experts recommend.
And just like I did with his older brother.
I patiently practiced sight word flashcards and beginner reading books to no avail.
The tool that made the biggest positive impact on his struggle to read was practicing with Elkonin boxes. I am SO grateful for his second-grade teacher, who introduced me to the concept!
What are Elkonin Boxes?
Elkonin boxes (also known as “sound boxes” or “blend boxes”) are a strategy to help develop phonological awareness and skills. Kids use Elkonin boxes to segment words into phonemes.
Wait…what’s a phoneme? A phoneme is a single sound in a word (think of a syllable rather than a letter).
In the 1960s, D. B. Elkonin popularized this method. Since then, early education teachers at school and at home have used them regularly.
What are Elkonin Boxes used for?
They teach kids how to segment words into individual sounds (or phonemes) by using a hands-on way to understand how sounds make up words.
What makes Elkonin Boxes work?
Often the best tools are simple ones, and Elkonin Boxes are no exception! The concept is simple, but the work is incredible.
The visual component of these sound boxes helps students to separate (or segment) each sound in a word. Further, this activity turns the learning process into a multisensory learning experience, which helps keep kids engaged.
These research-based CVC practice sheets are a powerful tool that:
- Show students how to segment words into phonemes (or syllables, or sounds), building their phonological awareness.
- Help students understand decoding and spelling by teaching that letters represent sounds that combine to form words (known as the alphabetic principle).
- Teach students how to count the number of syllables (or phonemes) in the word (not the same as the number of letters).
They’re terrific tools for helping kids to hit some of those basic reading milestones!
Grab your 20-word set of Elkonin sound boxes by clicking the image below! 👇👇
Who benefits from using this Elkonin Boxes printable?
This phoneme segmenting activity is ideal for preschoolers, Kindergarteners, 1st graders, and even some 2nd graders. Basically, you want to use it for any child who is trying to learn how to read and spell.
But Elkonin sound boxes are also super helpful for kids (of any age) learning English as a second language.
Since English has sounds that may not exist in their native language, these sound boxes provide the repetition that new English learners need to learn unfamiliar sounds.
How To Use Elkonin Boxes
As parents (and teachers), teaching our kids how to read is HARD! The English language has 44 sound phonemes, which takes time for kids to learn as they build their phonological awareness skills.
Here’s how to use Elkonin Sound Boxes:
Have your child listen to a word, then move a token into a box corresponding to each sound or phoneme.
- Download the CVC word worksheets (the set contains 20 of the most common words)
- Cut out the sounds for each word.
- Pronounce a chosen word slowly, taking time to pronounce each sound.
- Ask the child to repeat the word.
- Encourage your child to count the number of phonemes in the word. This is the number of syllables, not letters. For example, the word “sheep,” which consists of three phonemes (sounds): /sh/ /ee/ /p/
- Have your child to place one cut out word count in each cell of the Elkonin box PDF as he/she repeats the sounds and then the word.
Pro Tip: Emphasize sounds in each word, particularly the beginning, middle, and end sounds
Video Showing How To Use Elkonin Boxes
Ideas To Expand This Elkonin Boxes Activity
- Once your child can identify the sounds, make this activity just a little more challenging by using different colored tokens to indicate consonants and vowels.
- Alternatively, your child could place a different colored token on top of each phoneme in the word.
- Another idea is to cover the written word and ask your child to write the word below the arrow.
- Begin adding in additional words to work on that have digraphs (two letters that combine into one sound, ex: sh) and words that have a ‘silent e’ at the end such as gate
- Then add in words with blends or four phonemes, such as trade or step.
- Finally, work on words with blends and five phonemes, such as blend, street, crust
- Once you begin working on letter blends with your child, try using phoneme blocks to complement these sound boxes.
Developing strong readers requires spending a lot of time helping our kids build the skills that allow them to isolate, identify, and manipulate sounds.
Grab your 20-word set of CVC Word Practice Sheets by clicking the image below! 👇👇
Children’s Books To Supplement This Learning
Part of learning how to read is seeing it in action. Grab these books to help new readers learn the concepts that these Elkonin boxes printables teach.
Mom and Dad Are Palindromes
This funny story is about a boy who learns about palindromes and then begins to see them everywhere he looks. Kids will love the strong visual cues!
Too Hot to Hoot: Funny Palindrome Riddles by Marvin Terban is a great companion book.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
This book about a giraffe who doesn’t know how to dance but a little cricket helps him discover that he has a beautiful unique dance offers a great message coupled with entertaining rhyme and rhythm.
Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook
I love this book! Runny Babbit was written by one of my favorite children’s authors, Shel Silverstein. Kids will delight in the spoonerisms, switching the first sound in a pair of words and build their phonemic awareness without even realizing it!
Go, Dog, Go!
This easy classic reader employs dogs of all kinds to entertain beginner readers with outrageous activities.
Final Thoughts About Using Elkonin Boxes
One thing I’ve learned is that teaching kids to read requires a variety of strategies to provide support the support they need.
I hope this post has shown you how effective Elkonin Boxes can be as a tool to add to your toolbox! Remember, no two kids learn to read the same way. My oldest son learned through practice but my middle and youngest sons needed more support and resources.
Don’t forget to grab your 20-word Elkonin Boxes PDF by clicking the image below! 👇👇
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