Phonics Phone

Toobaloo, Whisper Phones

UDL 1.2 UDL 4.1

The Phonics Phone is a curved c-shaped tube that students place to their ear and mouth while they quietly read, or whisper read, a text out loud. As they read into the phone, their voice travels up the tube to to their ear and students experience the magnification of their voice as they read out loud. This intentional focus on hearing the sounds they are producing helps build phonemic awareness and supports the student’s ability to self-correct miscues, or when a word is read wrong. The physical presence of the phone encourages focused attention during oral reading. Phonics Phones can be used during whole group quiet reading times, small group guided reading lessons, or in small group center times.

Implementation Tips

Usage Guidelines
Demonstrate how to whisper-read into the phone while explaining to students that it is meant to magnify the voice in order to hear the details of the sounds they are reading. The teacher can demonstrate reading aloud quietly, then ask the students to do the same
Teacher Monitoring
Monitor reading practice by moving close enough to hear the student’s voice and provide effective feedback based on areas identified needing teacher support. (e.g. Teacher points to a word the student's miscue, “Let’s go back to this word. Tell me what you hear as I re-read that word to you.”).
Placement of the Phone
Adjust how the student holds the phone over the mouth and to the ear while they read for accuracy. Correct placement ensures they are able to hear, recognize, and determine sounds linked to print while reading to themselves.
Phonemic Awareness
Plan for systematic phonics instruction that incorporates the Phonics Phone as a means to support students’ success with reading skills. Use when teaching phonemic awareness and letter sounds. Students can also read individual letters, combination sounds and words.
Center Time
Provide a Phonics Phone for each child in the small center group of three to five students and keep them in a central location in a plastic bag that is easy for students to locate for ready use. Sanitize frequently with antibacterial wipes or spray.
Writing Practice
Read students writing to see where they are confusing letter/sound correlations. Students can read their own writing with the Phonics Phone to help them notice what sounds are missing from their words, or what words are missing from their sentences.
Allow reluctant readers in your classroom to use the Phonics Phone during silent reading time. As long as it doesn't interfere with the purpose of independent reading, students can read with different voices, with expression, or to a stuffed animal.


Guided Reading
A teacher conducts guided reading with a small group of students. Students whisper-read the text into their phones while the teacher moves from student to student in order to hear individual voices. After listening, the teacher provides any necessary corrections and feedback to an individual student. “Show me that you know how to use the phone by reading what I just read, but this time to yourself.”
Independent Reading
During independent reading time, the teacher meets with individual students and models how to speak into the Phonics Phone at a low volume. “Now you try,” the teacher says, and the student reads quietly in a whisper into the phone. The student reads aloud: “The squirrel crawled high up into the tree.” The student pauses, and hears through Phonics Phone a word was pronounced incorrectly, “high” as “h i g”. The teacher waits for the student to self-correct, or points out the error. The teacher states, “I like how you noticed the incorrect pronunciation while you were reading. You read quietly and your reading is improving, too. Now continue reading into the Phonics Phone on your own.”
Builds Confidence
Students are working to memorize poems for an upcoming poetry night. The teacher notices a student who is reluctant to practice reciting the poem to the class. The teacher encourages the student to first rehearse on their own, using the Phonics Phone, in order to build confidence with the material and overcome their reluctance to perform the poem in public.