Initial, medial and final sounds

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Common core standards

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Teaching strategies

  • Because of the variety of resources for each word part, Initial sounds, Medial sounds, and Final sounds each have their own page. This page has only general strategies for working on awareness of sounds in words.


Elkonin 1.JPG
Elkonin boxes

Elkonin boxes (also known as sound boxes) have been around a really long time! Basically, you draw a box with three columns. Students push a penny into each column when they hear a sound in the word. So for the word "map", they would push a penny up when they hear a "m", then another penny for the "a" sound, and a final penny for the "p" sound.


  • Put up a finger
    • As you stretch a word out, put up a finger for each sound you say (so SAT gets three fingers). Then, say the word quickly, making a fist as you do so. Next, have the students do it with you.
    • Alternatively, have students tap down their arm for each sound they hear in a word and then brush down the arm for the whole word (so for "sat" they would tap their shoulder for the "s", their elbow for the "a", their wrist for the "t" and then brush their hand down their arm for the whole word.


  • Say it slow, say it fast
    • Say a word slowly (stretch it out) and have the students say it back to you quickly. Or say it quickly and have the students repeat it back in slo-mo.
    • Early literacy connection has a game for it with instructions that seem pretty cool.

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