Elkonin boxes. Sound boxes. What ever you happen to call them, they are a great tool to use for phonemic awareness and hearing sounds.
This little girl (in the above picture) is doing the rubber band. We say the word, then ssttrreettcchh it out like a rubber band to hear all of the sounds. Then we slide objects into the boxes for each sound heard. You may have seen it look like this:
I make different numbers of boxes and place them in plastic sleeves. Then the boxes can be used over and over without having to make more copies.
After students can hear sounds and associate the letter with the sound, we move to writing the letters down for the sounds. I have them push in for each sound heard, then say the whole word. Then they pull out the first pompom and write the letter for the sound they heard. Last they write the whole word on the line. It is important that the students see the word written as a whole unit.
I like to mix it up a bit too and use other items besides boxes for this activity . So in the first picture you see the cups and the pompoms. I like the pompoms being dropped in the cups for each sound. When I change it up to the cups, I feel like the students are not just sliding into the boxes. Sometimes I think they get comfortable with the boxes and just slide without really listening to the sounds. By changing up the activity a bit, it brings them back to what they are to be listening for. Just makes it interesting again!
Another idea for sounds boxes or cups is to have students listen for beginning or ending sounds. Give them 2 cups and the magnetic letter that they are listening for- some will need this visual reminder. Say a word and they can drop an object in the cup. Here we were listening for ending sounds of /g/ and /m/.
You can have students listen for a particular sound in words and drop into the 1st cup for beginning of the word, 2nd cup for middle of the word or 3rd cup for the end of the word. There are just so many activities that can be done! What variations do you do?