DIY Whisper Phones- Too Easy to NOT make!


The whisper phone is a classic teacher DIY. I don't know who first discovered these babies, but I first learned about them 10 years ago during my undergrad from my favorite reading professor. 8 years into my career, and I'm just getting around to making some of my own. And I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner! 

I do have whisper phones in my classroom, which I purchased years ago from a teacher catalog. Almost every single one has broken. They were flimsy, not that cute, and expensive! 

So I finally took my tushy to Lowes and got what I needed. Word on the street is that Lowes can be hit or miss for getting your materials cut for you. I always engage the workers there in a conversation about what I'm making, and they are always happy to help free of charge! I DID have to play it a little bit dumb to get my PVC pipe cut. "Do I need to buy a saw, or are there special scissors for this stuff?" The nice lady took pity on me.

I asked for 3/4 inch pipe, because that's the most popular size. She ended up cutting the 1/2 size by mistake, but they still work perfectly and it ended up costing me a little less. Here is what I purchased: 

1 long piece of 1/2 inch PVC pipe-cut into 3.5 inch pieces (it made about 30)
1/2 inch 90 degree elbows (I bought 40, since I only needed 20...I might get more later to use the extra sections of pipe)
Colorful duct tape (it doesn't take much)

I couldn't decide if I should spray paint the pipe of just use duct tape. I went with the tape because 1. I can change it later, 2. it's faster and less messy, and 3. I was able to do it today in my living room while it rained outside. It took no time at all! 

If you've been considering making some of these...go do it! You feel feel so productive for very little effort! :)

40 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the purchase info! I have a set of 6 for the guided reading table, but everyone wants the red phone, lol!

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  2. What do you do with these? How do they help you in the classroom?

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    1. They are great for the students to read into because it magnifies their own voice, which helps them attend to their reading. They are also GREAT because it encourages students to read quietly! And the students love them!

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    2. They are also good for students who have reading disabilities. Depending on their disability, it can help their comprehension to hear the words read aloud, even when it is the student himself who is reading.

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    3. I like to use them for the kiddos who don't have volume control during free play. It helps them to realize how loud they really are.

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  3. I wondered, too, what you use these for?

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    1. Hi MamaBear! They are great for the students to read into because it magnifies their own voice, which helps them attend to their reading. They are also GREAT because it encourages students to read quietly! And the students love them!

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    2. You can also use them when students need to self edit their own writing. They read their writing into the phone and can hear what they wrote.

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  4. I SO need to make these! Thank you for posting the sizes and how long to cut them!

    Lindsey
    Lovin’ Kindergarten

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  6. What a great idea! If you don't mind me asking, what was your final cost?

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    1. It was about 25.00 all said and done for over 20 phones!

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  7. I made a set of 25 this afternoon for about $27. Cheap, easy, and quick!

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    1. That's just about what it came to for me as well!

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  8. It was under 30.00! If you only buy one color of duct tape it will only cost you 25.00!

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  9. I made these last summer without the duct tape. If I have time before school starts, I might add the tape. The kiddos love them.

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  10. Did you use anything to attach the elbows?

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  11. Question: Did you glue them together or just put them together?

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    1. That was my question...another class had a set of these and my boys were begging me to get some. :)

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    2. No glue! They stay together great on their own!

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  12. I have a set of these- handed down to me luckily. They do start to smell...I take them home and put them in the dishwasher. (Not sure how the duct tape will hold up- but I love the idea of adding color or patterns to my boring set). If you do not glue they come apart and go back together easily for cleaning!

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  13. My students use them to read over their stories to make sure what they wrote makes sense

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  14. So there is a 3.5" piece with 2 90 elbow joints on each end? A couple more pics would help.

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    1. https://www.google.com/search?q=whisper+phone&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=APTeU7qGA8P5oASEooGADw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAg&biw=1302&bih=659#q=whisper+phone+diy&tbm=isch&imgdii=_

      Here are image of other whisper phones.

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  15. Hello, I am a German teacher and I've never heard of something like whisper phones. I find this idea so great that I'll try and introduce it in my classroom as well :)
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  16. Hi, I have never heard of whisper phones before. Has anyone used them in math, science, any other content? If so please share ideas!!

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  17. Any ideas of how to use in other content areas, such as math & science?

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  18. Same length for fourth graders??

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  19. I buy the contractor packs of elbows at Home Depot. I also bought a pipe cutter, so that I can make other things with PVC. I also made some small pocket chart holders (look for them on pintrest) when I made my phonics phones. My fourth graders love them. I made them about the same size four years ago. I am making some more because some disappeared at the end of last school year. My students liked to use them on tests with reading passages.

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  20. http://www.survivingateacherssalary.com/save-make-your-own-whisper-phones/

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  21. Has anyone used these in 5th grade??? I was just looking at buying some, but this is much cheaper!

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  22. Your kinders will love these, Tiffany! I made them for my class and they loved using them (and the novelty never wore off!). I disinfected them several times throughout the year and they held up great - including the duct tape. I wasn't too concerned about the tape, though, because I figured I could easily recover them if I needed. Also, for those inquiring about older grades and other content areas, I did not use them solely for reading (although that was the majority of the usage because they were stored in the students' book boxes. I used them any time students were "thinking out loud." For example, during group presentations, students were able to practice their speaking roles into their whisper phones. I also like for my students to have opportunities to learn in as many different modes as possible. Using whisper phones were very beneficial for my auditory learners who needed to not only hear me say things repeatedly and in different ways, but they could clearly hear themselves as they spoke into their whisper phones (and all without the distractions of others...or distracting others!). Best $30 I've ever spent towards my classroom for sure!
    Leslie
    Fashionable in First

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  23. You were wise to pick duct tape over spray paint! Normal paint doesn't adhese well to the finish of PVC pipe, and it wouldn't be long before your kiddos had a flaky ex-paint mess on their hands.

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  24. Why do you have to use duct tape or spray paint? Why can't you just leave them plain?

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  25. If anyone has ever seen a real Whisper Phone setup - you will realize that these home made jobbies are not even close to the same product. Sure your kids can read to themselves through these hand held INDIVIDUAL pieces of pipe - but the whole idea of the Whisper Phone is so that the teacher can have a guided reading group and can tune into the "channel" of the reader they are wanting to hear read. Check out the following link to see what a true Whisper Phone Select (the select means you can select which student you want to listen to) and you will see why the Whisper Phone is superior to these individual units. This is not to say that the individual units don't have any merit - but this system is unique and preferential as you can hear individual students when they are reading. Check it out! http://www.whisperphone.com/index.php/whisperphones/whisperphone-select-cat/whisperphone-select.html

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    Replies
    1. It is in poor taste to advertise on someone else's blog without their permission.

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  26. Nice Blog!! Great Post !! Like your Blog and your ideas and i think its benificial for us and i keep to visit your blog regularly because i got lot of information through you blog

    Plastic Pipe Fitting

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  27. For future reference for making things with pvc, they do have special scissors to cut. It makes life so much easier for me b/c I also use pvc for other things like picture frames, sensory table holder, small chart stands, etc.

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  28. PVC whisper phones are great in the older grades too! They are so valuable to help kids with fluency. I keep one in each of my student's Book Bins - along with a text tracker and bookmark.
    When I moved to a new school, at the beginning of the year I sent out an email to my parents asking to make these and I got a taker! This great dad took very similar directions to Home Depot, assembled and donated them to my class. I number each one with sharpie so it can get back to its 'owner' throughout the year. I've had my set for the last six years and they still are clean and new! Thanks for showing how easy they are create and assemble.
    www.growingrootsclassroom.blogspot.com

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