lucia & the tin-can phoneThe classic game of “telephone” is a fun addition to any children’s class, and it can be played in many different ways. Gameplay is simple: The entire class should be sitting in a circle. One person is picked to choose a starting message, which he or she then whispers to the next person in the circle; the message is then passed through the entire circle, until the last player announces the message to the entire group. Errors inevitably accumulate with each retelling, so the message usually ends up being quite different than the way it started.

This game is especially useful in lessons on avoiding gossip and backbiting, as it helps demonstrate how gossip tends to alter and pervert the truth of a situation as it spreads, with details of a story changing, becoming exaggerated or even completely untrue. It also helps young children to moderate their voices, by forcing them to whisper instead of speaking loudly.


  • Touch telephone: This variation is touch-based, rather than sound-based. The first player chooses a simple, but easily distinguishable object as the message, which he or she then draws on the back of the next person in the circle. Each person does the same in turn, drawing what they felt on the next person’s back. The last person in the circle is then given a piece of paper, and draws what he or she felt. Some good objects to try could be a fish, a house, a flower, a sailboat, a star, or a letter of the alphabet.

Photo: “lucia & the tin-can phone“, by Somaya Langley.

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