Teaching cvc words to kindergarten students and making sure they know how to read these cvc words is a fundamental part of the modern day kindergarten experience. In this blog I will share 4 ways you can use sound boxes to teach cvc words sound segmenting and blending.


Be sure to read till the end where I’ll share bonus tip that really can be used to capture the attention of your kindergarteners who prefer the running around outside to the learning how to read cvc words.

Making sure your students know how to read at grade level involves various skills that when combined we call reading. The foundation of these skills is having a firm understanding of how words can be changed through sound deletion and manipulation. Children learn to do this through songs, rhymes, and poems and this is done even before reading is introduced. We have a video below talking about these skills – called phonemic awareness and how you can help children master them.

Now when children have a basic understanding of how to play with sounds or phonemic awareness then they can move onto pair those sounds with their written representations. Remember, not all children will be ready at the same time to learn this skill nor will they all be able to learn at the same pace or in the same manner. This is why differentiating your instruction is very important. Using kid watching and observational notes will give you important information on how your students prefer to learn and where they are in their literacy development.  

After all that ground work you know your students are ready to learn to read simple cvc words.  Your teaching cvc words lesson plan may include a common strategy seen in kindergarten classrooms – Elkonin boxes or sound boxes.

What are sound boxes?

Sound boxes are an instructional strategy for teaching cvc words in kindergarten and other phonics skills that break down a word into its phonemes or sounds.

This strategy helps children to connect the sound they are saying with the written text.  This is why it is important for children to have a firm foundation in phonemic awareness before moving onto learning phonics. Think of it as building a house with a firm foundation. Phonemic awareness is the firm foundation for other skills that we call reading. 


There are many ways teachers can use sound boxes to help children understand cvc words.  As always we’ll aim to make sure our teaching approach is grounded in what our kids do best – Play!

how to teach blending cvc words

Playdough Push

A fun way of having children learn cvc words and is to bring in playdough. There are a couple of ways this can be done. One way is to place the word above the boxes and have children place a bit of playdough in each box to represent the sound said. Or place the word above and the playdough in the boxes then have children push each playdough piece when they say the sound. A tip is to use different color playdough to represent each different sound. This serves as a visual cue for children who may need or benefit from another prompt when learning to read cvc words.  They can then push the sounds together to read the word

Letters and Boxes

The standard way of using these boxes is quite simple and straightforward. You can simply have your students place each letter in the box to show the sounds said. This can be done using magnetic letters, laminated letters, wooden letters, mini eraser letters or having them writing the letters in the boxes. Each option has children physically placing the letters in the boxes. You can either place the word above so that children are matching the letters as they say the sound. Or you can have children place the letters without a visual aide. The method you choose should depend on the child that is in front of you. It is always important to remember to play to the needs and strengths of your students. 

how to teach blending cvc words

Smartboard Sound Boxes

Using technology has become a permanent part of our classrooms. This is not all bad. Use your smartboard to help your students learn how to read cvc words. During circle time dedicate 1-2 minutes to a quick activity using words being taught or as revision for words already learned. Have children come up to move digital marks to the boxes and while the class segment the word by saying each sound together. They can then blend all sounds together to read.

Sound box Vehicles

Take cvc segmenting and blending to the blocks area. Print out cvc words and sound boxes. Allow your children to drive their cars, trucks or land their airplanes or helicopters on each box. When they land they say the sound. They can then use their vehicle to run along the bottom of the word and a blend the sounds together to read.

You know I can’t leave you without a bonus tip. I always had very active classes. So instead of letting them run me ragged and crazy trying to contain their energy, I planned ahead. We loved activities that could be done in the gym or outside on the playground and teaching blending cvc words sound boxes are no different.

how to teach blending cvc words

Sound box races

Take some blue painter’s tape or whatever kind of tape you like and create simple sound boxes. Divide your class into team and be sure to mix abilities well. Have a list of cvc words your students are learning or have already learned. Place the teams on one side of the gym or playground and the sound boxes on the other. When you say go or blow the whistle a member from each team runs to the words, places the letters in the boxes, says each sound and reads the word to you out loud before running back. You reset the words and the next person goes.

Now here are some tips. 

  1. Be sure to read through the words with the class before you start the races. This primes everyone. 

  2. Encourage collaboration by having a collective score for the class. 

  3. Choose a few words to read together to close the game as a nice wrap up. 

  4. Have a fun treat for everyone because everyone participated and did their best!


Now I know you’re always looking for ways to improve your practice. So be sure to  click this video here to brush up on Phonemic Awareness and how it can help you teach your students to become better readers.

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