Sound Boxes

In Montessori it’s important to teach the concept of sounds before teaching letters.  This is done with the I Spy game.  Pumpkin 1 loves letters and loves learning the names for everything.  Therefore she can already name most of her letters by their phonetic sound.  She loves playing with her foam letters in the bath.  Most of this she’s picked up just by playing and reading books and seeing letters around her on signs, clothing, toys, etc…, not by any formal teaching on my part.

Using objects is a great way to engage a child and helps to solidify concepts in the brain.

But in our new conception the view is taken that movement has great importance in mental development itself provided that the action which occurs is connected with the mental activity going on.  -Maria Montessori

It’s great to put together “sound boxes” made up of objects that begin with each sound in the English language, keeping in mind that there are more sounds than there are letters (for instance “sh” and “ch”).  The objects should correctly represent the sound.  For instance you wouldn’t use a sheep to represent the letter “s”.  You can usually find many little toys around the house or even purchase some “trinket” bags off of etsy.

Since Pumpkin 1 is young for letters and sounds, she doesn’t really understand the concept of “I Spy” yet, so instead I have her do sorting.  I pull out two draws and we go through each object and sort them.  I try to pick two letters that sound quite different.  “Puh” and “Buh” wouldn’t be a good idea for her to sort at this point of time.  It is still a little tricky for her but she loves it and asks to do it all the time.


I store our objects in a tool cabinet.


Here is an example of what is in our “c” drawer.


Another option is to print off pictures instead of using objects.  This is an inexpensive alternative and great if you find the objects are a distraction for your child.

This book set is also a great way to do the I Spy game

What Did We Do All Day reviews these books and mentions how sometimes objects can be too distracting as the child wants to play with them.

Here are some other blogs on Sound Boxes

2 thoughts on “Sound Boxes

  1. Wow, I like this idea. I’m interested in making this for my son. I have a couple questions about it…I understand that it’s completely phonetic. What happens when you have a figurine of, say, a knight. Would that go in the “n” sound box? Or would you just avoid using objects like that because it might be confusing for spelling later on? Also, where did you find that set of little boxes?

  2. Only use objects that are phonetic for the initial sound. So don’t use a sheep for S or a knight for K. The boxes is a tool drawer set from the hardware section of Canadian tire. However now I’ve moved to small screw top jars from the dollar store so the children can get them out and look at them but my 16 month old can’t open them.

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