Most emergent and early readers benefit from direct, explicit instruction in hearing and recording sounds in sequence. Sound boxes help children segment sounds as they record the sound in each box. For best results follow these steps:
1. Tell students how many boxes they will use.
2. Select a few phonetically regular words that are developmentally appropriate for your students’ reading stage. Here are my recommendations:
Level C – CVC words such as lap or wig
Level D – CCVC words with digraphs such as chat or mush
Level E – CCVC words with initial blends such as slop or trim
Level F – CVCC words with final blends such as jump or fast
Level G – CCVCC words with initial and final blends/digraphs such as slump or splat
3. Dictate a word and have students say it slowly as they slide a finger in or under each box.
4. Students write the sounds in the boxes and check the word by running their finger under the boxes as they blend the sounds together.
To promote the transfer of skills, use sounds boxes during guided writing when students need help hearing the sounds in a simple word they want to write. Don’t expect them to include silent letters. You can provide those. By following these procedures during word study and guided writing, you should see an improvement in children’s writing.