3 Ways to Use Phonics Boxes


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I absolutely love using phonics boxes in my classroom and have always been an advocate for them. They are a great way to help your students practice their phonics skills in fun ways. If you haven’t started incorporating these in your classroom, you should consider it. Here’s why!

What are phonics boxes?

Phonics boxes are little plastic boxes that store different types of phonics activities. These are used to build phonemic awareness in early elementary grade students.  They can be created and organized in ways to highlight a variety of phonics concepts. For example, I like to use AstroBright printing paper to make my boxes colorful. They are also convenient in size, making them easy to keep at centers around the room or taken to kids’ desks.

3 Ways to Use Phonics Boxes

Phonics boxes can be used for drills.

If you’re looking for a way to practice decoding drills with your students, these boxes would be the perfect tool to use. Most young readers learn their letter sounds, but can easily get intimidated when those letters are placed with other ones. Insert phonics-specific boxes. Some of the ones I created help lightly introduce students to letter-sound through visual and pictographic forms.

For example, in the beginning sounds box, students will have a letter on one side and a picture on another. They will see the letter “a” followed by a picture of an apple. This helps them to connect the dots with how that letter sounds when put into a word. In return, these can become drills that are done as warm-ups, lesson introductions, interventions, and so on.

Use phonics boxes in review form.

So you’ve already taught a specific phonics concept, but you’re looking for a way to review it? The boxes come in handy here as well. By using these boxes often, students will be able to:

  • Develop reading fluency.
  • Enhance sound to symbol recognition.
  • Promote patience and concentration.
  • Improve vocabulary.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most students forget concepts when they are not fashioned or used often. Giving them different opportunities to work on what they’ve learned will help them retain it.

Phonics boxes can be used as games.

This is my most favorite way to use these boxes (and my students’) too! Students can play three different games: concentration, memory match, and/or Go Fish. Concentration games require students to focus and think about one specific thing. Memory match tests their ability to remember where a card is and matching it with its correct sound (or picture). Playing Go Fish helps work and play with one another. It’s always so much fun watching students work together (and sometimes help one another out).

Phonics Box Ideas for Your Classroom

As I mentioned before, I created several different kinds of phonics boxes. I use them in my classroom but also wanted to give other teachers (and homeschooling parents) a way to incorporate them into theirs. Below are a few student (and teacher) favorites:

Remember, you can use these in your classroom centers, during transition times, for early finishers, and more! Keep them in a convenient place for students to grab and switch them out often.

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