Strategy

Elkonin Boxes

Sound Boxes, Phoneme Boxes

UDL 2.3 UDL 3.3 UDL 5.3

Elkonin Boxes are a set of boxes that are commonly used by early elementary students to model segmenting words into individual sounds/phonemes. These boxes can be pre-made or drawn on the spot by the teacher to demonstrate the number of phonemes in a given word. After the teacher reads the word, the student repeats it and begins segmenting the individual sounds as he/she slides tokens or manipulatives into each sound box. For example, to segment the word “ship,” a student would slide tokens into three boxes to represent the individual sounds they hear (“sh,” “i,” “p”). This multi-sensory approach builds phonological awareness and early literacy skills (e.g., decoding, noticing spelling patterns) by helping students recognize the distinct sounds that make up a word.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Decoding Tool

Two Phoneme Elkonin Boxes and Worksheets

Elkonin Boxes for use when segmenting words by phonemes. This version can be used for words with two phonemes and can be easily customized for use with specific word types.

Grade K, 1 · Reading · 2 pages


Decoding Tool

Three Phoneme Elkonin Boxes and Worksheets

Elkonin Boxes for use when segmenting words by phonemes. This version can be used for words with three phonemes and can be easily customized for use with specific word types.

Grade K, 1 · Reading · 2 pages


Decoding Tool

Two Syllable Elkonin Boxes and Worksheets

Elkonin Boxes for use when segmenting words by syllables. This version can be used for words with two syllables and can be easily customized for use with specific word types.

Grade K, 1 · Reading · 2 pages


Decoding Tool

Three Syllable Elkonin Boxes and Worksheets

Elkonin Boxes for use when segmenting words by syllables. This version can be used for words with three syllables and can be easily customized for use with specific word types.

Grade K, 1 · Reading · 2 pages


Implementation Tips

Creating Elkonin Boxes
Draw boxes that are attached instead of individual boxes with space in between them to help students understand that phonemes are joined together create a word. Also, consider increasing the size of individual boxes when a digraph or blend is represented (e.g., sh, oo, th, ch) to model the visual space needed when spelling the word.
Preteaching
Model how to stretch out sounds in words by saying a given word and then elongating the pronunciation of the word to highlight each sound. The teacher can then say the word again, counting each sound on their fingers. Lastly, the teacher can push one token for each sound they hear in the word into individual sound boxes to model the use of Elkonin Boxes.
Varying Tokens
Select different colored tokens for students to use while segmenting to help emphasize individual sounds (e.g., different color tokens for each sound, different colored tokens for consonants and vowels).
Picture Support
Add pictures above Elkonin Boxes to match the word being segmented for students who benefit from increased visual supports.
Word Segmentation
Support students who struggle to segment words by providing them with a mirror to observe themselves saying a word. This can help students detect each sound visually before bringing the word to Elkonin Boxes.
Online Resources
Watch this [[http://kcts9.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/cheatl.plr.elkonin/phonological-awareness-instruction-elkonin-boxes/|video]] of a teacher using Elkonin Boxes during instruction to see this strategy in action. For additional information and templates, check out these websites: [[http://bogglesworldesl.com/elkonin_boxes.htm|Elkonin Boxes Resources]] and [[http://www.customboxesnow.com/Library/teachers_guide_to_elkonin_boxes.htm|A Teacher’s Guide to Elkonin Boxes]].

Examples

Highlighting Specific Phonemes
To help a student identify specific sounds a teacher prepares a list of several words with the target phoneme positioned in different places (e.g., cast, sort, dogs). When practicing with the student, the teacher provides an Elkonin Box with three squares and identifies which sound the student should focus on (e.g., “Listen for the “s” sound in the words I read.”). As the teacher reads each word, the student places a counter in the first, second, or third box depending on whether the target phoneme is heard at the beginning, middle, or end of the word.
Reading/Literacy Centers
During literacy centers a teacher uses Elkonin Boxes as a phonics intervention for specific students. The teacher selects students who need support segmenting sounds and focuses on specific target words (e.g., CVC words, CVCe words) or target sounds (e.g., long vowels, short vowels). When meeting with students, the teacher begins by saying the word aloud, making sure to model stretching the sounds. After repeating the word, students take turns sliding tokens for different words into the Elkonin Boxes drawn on paper or a dry erase board.
Morning Meeting
To improve students’ fluency and reinforce previously practiced skills, a teacher reviews specific phonics patterns during morning meeting. An Elkonin Box is drawn on a whiteboad near the carpet area. Each morning, the teacher recites several words that highlight a vowel or consonant blend (e.g., cl, st) that is the focus of the day or week. As each word is read, a student volunteer slides magnetic tokens into the Elkonin Boxes as the class segments words together.

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