Elkonin Boxes & other cool resources

May 12, 2008

Elkonin Boxes

Lanternfish ESL’s website provides numerous ESL resources that can be used for adult literacy lessons. I’ve become a regular user of their resources on Elkonin Boxes. The site’s authors explain that:

“Elkonin boxes can be used to teach phonemic awareness by having students listen for individual sounds and marking where they hear them in the boxes. Each box in an Elkonin box card represents one phoneme, or sound. So the word sheep, which is spelled with five letters, has only 3 phonemes: /sh/ /ee/ /p/. Segementing words is one of the more difficult skills children acquire. It is also one of the best predictors of future success in reading. Elkonin boxes are a physical segmentation of words into phonemes.”

“Though not originally intended for teaching spelling, Elkonin boxes can be used to practice spelling from a synthetic phonics point of view. The Elkonin boxes available here are modified somewhat to give children more room to write when they encounter a digraph such as /ee/ or /sh/. Moats (PDF File) recommends this technique for spelling:

‘Because it helps fix phoneme-grapheme correspondences in children’s minds, this technique supports children’s spelling, reading and writing development” (Moats, American Educator, Winter 2005-2006).’”

I’ve been most excited about using them during our spelling tests. I give Emmett a page that contains the appropriate Elkonin boxes for the 10 words included in the test and then dictate each word aloud, drawing out the sounds as I dictate the words. The Elkonin boxes clue Emmett in about how many sounds he needs to include and whether any of them are digraphs (bigger boxes), welded sounds (I outline them in green), or blends. We repeat the same test several times over several lessons until he is able to get all of the words on his own, and then I give him the test without the Elkonin boxes. (I also give him worksheets with images on them to complete for homework.)

While very useful at every step, it seems to me that Elkonin Boxes would become increasingly useful as a student encounters digraphs, welded sound, and blends. Emmett has a hard time recognizing all of the sounds in consonant and digraph blends (e.g., bl, gr, shr) and tends to leave out one of the two sounds unless he knows to look for the second sound. The Elkonin boxes have been a great help!

The website provides templates (like the one at the top of this post) that you can print out as is or modify to use with your student. It also provides sample worksheets that include a combination of vocabulary words with Elkonin Boxes.

I’ve also referred to the following sites for additional info on Elkonin Squares and other phonemic awareness activities to use during lessons:



One Response to “Elkonin Boxes & other cool resources”

  1. adagiago Says:

    Some great ideas and resources at that site: I am going to give them a go with my adult students. Thank You!

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