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Sound Boxes


Sound boxes build phonological awareness by dividing words into individual sounds. Many sound boxes include kinesthetic learning by encouraging readers to physically mark the sounds they hear in each word. 


  • Say a word and then repeat the word slowly
  • Emphasize the individual sounds (phonemes) in each word
  • Invite readers to mark each sound 
  • Ask readers to read the word back 

Did you know?

The 26 letters in the alphabet make approximately 44 unique sounds. These are the smallest units of sound in the English language and are called 'phonemes'.

See It In Action


Using Elkonin Boxes



Printable Elkonin Boxes


Count the Sounds activity from Literacy Minnesota.

  1. Say a word from the week’s vocabulary.
  2. Repeat the word and say it very slowly, emphasizing the individual sounds in the word.
  3. Have readers count the sounds, and tell you how many they hear by holding up the corresponding number of fingers. Example: House /h/ /ou/ /s/. The readers hold up three fingers.
  4. Repeat. 

Add Complexity: 

Use sound boxes without letters to develop phonemic awareness. Add letters to improve word recognition.