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5 Must Have Phonics Tools

As more classrooms embrace Science of Reading practices, engaging and effective phonics instruction is becoming more common in both the whole group and small group setting.

But what tools can teachers use to ensure that phonics instruction is both effective and engaging for students? Which tools should we be using in our tool boxes so that students can become fluent readers while still developing a love for reading?

Today I am going to share my 5 favorite phoincs tools that I use to keep my students engaged in our daily phonics lessons.

Meet Our Phonics Tool Box

Phonics Tool Box

A few years ago, I started using a mangement tool that would literally change my life in small group lessons. I was tired of disorganized materials, not being able to find what I needed, and wasting time passing out different materials each day- it was not effective and I was doing A LOT of extra (and unnecesary) work.

Then one day, I was browsing the clearance school supplies at my favorite red spot box store and I found it- the solution to all of my supply troubles... a plastic pencil box.

I immediately bought 6 clear, discounted pencil boxes, and my small group tool kit was born.

Fast forward a year later and I realized I love this method of keeping our tools organized that I need to double my tool boxes. I created both math and phonics tool boxes for my small group table. These organized little boxes of intentional tools are one of my favorite parts of my small group table.

Today, my phonics tool boxes are filled with tools that integrate multisensory learning, and take my phonics insturction to the next level. The tools have been intentionally picked, and make learning both purposeful and fun!

Mini Hand Mirrors

The first tool box must have is a mini hand mirror. I love having these available so students can see their mouth shape and position as we learn new sounds. Students can also use the hand mirrors to check their mouth position in relation to the mouth positions on the Vowel Valley. The mirrors also come in handy when we are learning sounds that are very similar, like /f/ and /th/. They can both feel and see the difference in mouth position for these sounds.

Toobaloos (Phonics Phone)

The next tool in my tool box is my phonics phone. Students love using these phonics phones as we learn new sounds. The phones amplify the sounds back to the students so they can hear the sound clearly.

Before allowing students to use the phone, I have the students practice producing the sound without the phones so that I can ensure they are practicing correctly- I do not want students to make incorrect sounds and then mishear the sound for the grapheme. I also spend significant time teaching students how to properly use the phones so they can use them safely and without damaging their hearing.

Magnetic Wand and Magnet Chips

This is by far a student favorite- they love the magnetic wands and chips. We use the chips to help us identify sounds in a word and map the sounds in a word. We can also use the chips when we are changing a sound in a word to make a new word. Then we can practice blending sounds as we scoop up the chips with the wands. Students love scooping up the sound chips with magnets- highly engaging.

Mini Alphabet Cards

Mini alphabet cards are a must have in the phonics tool kit! They are also the most dynamic tool in the tool box. I hand out each new alphabet card when we introduce the letter in group. As students build their letter deck, they can use their cards for building words, sound drill practice, tracing letter pathways as they practice the letter sound, creating word ladders by changing a sound- the possibilities are endless. I like the smaller cards because then all students can build words in their space without crowding each other.

Bumpy Boards

My personal favorite tool is our bumpy boards. The bumpy board is a great way to add in a multisensory element while practicing letter formation and pathways. Sometimes, I have students place their letter card under the bumpy board to trace while they practice making the letter sound.

These little tool boxes have been a game changer to my small group learning area. I prefer to color cordinate the tools to help with organizing. I also love that the boxes stack nicely on top of each other for easy storage.

Phonics Tool Boxes

I love having all of these high quality phonics tools at my fingertips. My students love days when the phonics tool boxes are out on the table. What go to phonics tools would you add to these tool boxes?


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