Blooming Young Readers Using Elkonin Boxes

Working with students in younger grades can be tricky. So many times my kindergarten and first grade students lack the phonological awareness and phonics skills needed for success in reading. I spend a lot of time helping those students acquire those skills. One way to do that is through blending and segmenting words with phoneme sound mats, sometimes called Elknonin Boxes.
Blending and segmenting sounds has proven to be helpful as children begin to hear individual sounds in words. These sound boxes will help them as they manipulate those sounds.

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Phonological awareness is an important skill for students to have BEFORE they can learn to read. Students have to be able to hear the sounds in words and understand that words do exist. One of my favorite ways to get students hearing all of the sounds in a word is through Elkonin boxes.

So, how do I use these?  I actually use them in different ways.  I start out with just counters.  I use either flat marbles or cute erasers.  At Christmas time I used bells.  This makes it more interesting.  I call out a word, and the students "push" the sounds as they hear them.  Then we read the word together, focusing on that left to right progression.  Here is a picture of what that looks like.  I gave the student the word "hop", and she pushed each phoneme to make the word, saying /h/ /o/ /p/ as she pushed each star up.
Blending and segmenting sounds has proven to be helpful as children begin to hear individual sounds in words. These sound boxes will help them as they manipulate those sounds.

After the students have a grasp on segmenting the sounds, I venture into word families and letters.  The two boxes would be the onset (first sound) and rime (word family) that students would have to segment.  We manipulate the sounds by changing out the onsets and rimes to make new words.

Right now I am using the three boxes with my kindergarten groups for them to find the letters to go in the blanks.  Once we have a word, we manipulate the phonemes to make new words. Here is an example.
Blending and segmenting sounds has proven to be helpful as children begin to hear individual sounds in words. These sound boxes will help them as they manipulate those sounds.
We have also worked with writing the letters we hear in the boxes. I love watching the students as they say each sound in a box and then write the letters. It lets me know that they are paying attention to each phoneme.
Blending and segmenting sounds has proven to be helpful as children begin to hear individual sounds in words. These sound boxes will help them as they manipulate those sounds.

The kids always enjoy doing this, and it leads to many other opportunities to work with words.  There is a great article about using Elkonin boxes in different ways here at Reading Rockets.  There are many things you can do with students to help them blend and segment words.

This is a strategy that is not just for the struggling reader, but for every beginning reader.  As students work in the long vowels with silent e, they are great to show what the word is without the e and with the e.  The four boxes are great for those beginning and ending blends to for students to hear those sounds.  Many times those n and m ending blends are hard to hear.  "Pushing the sounds" helps them to actually focus on the sounds of the words and place them in the words.

For your freebie, I have included a set of fun spring Elkonin Boxes, sometimes called "sound mats" to help your students as they work to hear the sounds in words. Click on the image below to grab yours!
Blending and segmenting sounds has proven to be helpful as children begin to hear individual sounds in words. These sound boxes will help them as they manipulate those sounds.


I hope this helps in your endeavors with readers.  I find that my students are more aware of the words they are reading and spelling when we do these activities.  I have even used these with my third graders, and they enjoy it!

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Blending and segmenting sounds has proven to be helpful as children begin to hear individual sounds in words. These sound boxes will help them as they manipulate those sounds.
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5 comments

  1. This is such a CUTE activity, Andrea!! I bet the kids love it. Thanks for sharing :)
    Julie
    The Techie Teacher®

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  2. Perfect activity for Spring! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Fantastic post! Love the seasonal options. My mats are just too plain. ;-)

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  4. Thats! I like the long caterpillar one! They are really eye catching. :-)

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  5. Thank you for such a fun activity. The cute springtime pictures on these mats will really encourage students to learn to read and spell.

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