Alphabet Sound Tubs

Ok, I'm cheap.  I found these awesome alphabet sound tubs (beginning sound) and then had a mild panic attack after realizing I would have to give up 30 venti lattes in order for it to happen.  Here are the 'shmancy-fancy' Lakeshore ones I wish I had:

Alphabet Sounds Teaching Tubs
Lakeshore Alphabet Sounds Teaching Tubs 

Here is my swanky version (minus the magnetic letters that aren't pictured):

EASY to make!
  • $5 at the Dollar Tree for the little tubs (or you can get bigger/nicer ones).
  • Print out some letters or use stickers and tape them on with the wide clear packing tape (I love that tape).
  • Then beg, steal, find, search, etc. for things to go into the boxes.  You have to get creative.  I even drew a picture of an alligator for the 'A' box.
  • Some things I found:  cotton ball (C), crayons for the colors (yellow=Y), glue, mini animals, car, truck, dice, q-tip, lipstick, paperclip, ticket, rubberband, mini-marker, eraser, chalk, dollhouse/Barbie things, Polly Pocket accessories, mini themed buttons (you can get these at a craft store), etc.  
  • Warning:  If you leave the tubs in your car (accidentally) and you happen to live where it may or may not get above 100 degrees (Phoenix) then the crayons will melt and cover whatever is in that tub.  And maybe even the carpet in your car.
  • Make sure you introduce the boxes/containers slowly.  Maybe a couple a day or when you do the letter intros.  I can only imagine what would happen if you let the kids.... oh wait... huge mess, ate lunch while I re-sorted all 3,000 little toys. {first year of teaching}
  • This is great for a center.  Dump all of the objects into a big tub/bowl and have the kids sort.
  • Create little labels (word strips/word mats) for the kids to match to the objects.  Have them draw a picture of it.
  • Realize that they might sort them completely different than you imagined.  I had a student put the Zebra in the 'S' box.  Once I asked why (thinking he had difficulty with the S/Z sounds) he said, "Mrs. Hughes it has STRIPES!!!"   Ok.
More examples:
The Virtual Vine

Teaching Treasures

OMG.  How cute are these little Easter baskets & eggs!?  I'm thinking other themes?
Pre-K Pages

The Learning Curv

Little wooden boxes.
Significant Noise

Ok.  I almost peed my pants on this next one.  Bead/tackle box?  Look at those cute tiny little things!  I think they're the little mini buttons you can buy at Michael's/Hobby Lobby (pack of ~10 different items)?  Too cute!!!

Peacefulmann Lanuguage Link

Mini-drawers.  Amazing and easy to relocate. (Make sure it has enough drawers... don't mix X, Y, & Z!)
Elaine Ng Friis

Where can I get little tiny items though?
  • Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Toy Store, Oriental Trading, hardware store, your local fairgrounds, the street, a circus, the trash, your kid's room, underneath couch cushions, the bathroom, etc.  Seriously people.  Anywhere.  Be on the lookout for tiny things.  You'll be amazed what you find.   
  • Make a new class rule:  You bring toys to school = I get them for my alphabet boxes

Alphabet Objects Kit
Different Roads to Learning - $45.95

She doesn't need all of those accessories.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you already have one or plan on making one!



  1. I'm not sure if this comes very late after your post, but I am so glad to have found this! I work as a speech therapist and I was just trying to convince my husband why it would be worth it to spend $150 on the lakeshore ones :) I'm usually a DIYer but I felt like there was no way i'd be able to find enough stuff for less than the cost of the originals. Now I'm planning on setting out today to check out Goodwill and some dollar stores to find some objects. Thank you for the inspiration to do it myself!

  2. Anonymous1/21/2013

    Thank you for your blog and post. I've wanted these tubs for YEARS and was inspired by you! I've got items, photos and letters for each letter tub. This week I'll introduce a few of the letter tubs to my kiddos and I'll hide items around our room so they can do an I-Spy! Keep posting and thanks again!!

  3. I collected items years ago and sent a note to parents about the project. They were thrilled to rid their homes of mini happy meal toys and the like! It was awesome being a teacher to children who's moms were also teachers so they bombarded me with trinkets! It's worth sending out a note just asking for donated items. And I always plugged it by thanking children in our class newsletters when they brought in much needed items for any project. That usually motivated the rest to pitch in wherever they could!

  4. Any thoughts on where I can find initial sound stickers for making alphabet dictionaries with my students??? I noticed a company online had exactly what I was looking for but they are discontinued. I've collected stickers over the years but that gets rather expensive for a class size and I'm wanting to have 4 or 5 stickers per letter. I ended up printing clipart for challenging letters & filled in the gaps. Thoughts?

  5. Anonymous7/01/2016

    Thank you so much for your post. When I was in Montessori, we had sound boxes shaped like pringles containers. We would remove all of the items from the container and then say the name of each item back into the container to hear the sound. We loved it! I've been wanting to make some for my daughter and your post inspired me! Thank you!



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