Literacy Spot #20: Tin Can Telephone

Did you ever make a tin can telephone as a child? Taking turns with a friend to share very important messages. Fascinated with how it could possibly work, that you could those secret messages travelling down a simple length of string.!

So much fun and so easy to make. All you need is two tin cans, a hammer and nail, and a length of string. Oh, and a friend for the other end.

Telephones are a great addition to children’s play, both for their language and social development. Here are a few ideas to get you started;

~ Add a handbag including items such as a set of keys, a purse or wallet, play money and an old mobile phone to your child’s dramatic play.

~ When it is time for a new one, recycle your home telephone by adding it to your child’s play. Telephones are a great addition when playing;

  • Doctor’s surgery
  • Veterinary clinic
  • Florist
  • Pizza shop
  • Repair man
  • Office (like Mummy or Daddy’s work), or
  • Everyday home corner play.

What playful literacy learning has your child been enjoying this week?

Related speaking and listening Literacy Spot posts

What is Childhood 101′s Literacy Spot? It is a weekly reminder of the importance of young children learning playfully as each week I share one idea for playing around with literacy, taken from my many years working as an early childhood teacher. Visit the previous Literacy Spot posts for more fun ideas for playing with literacy.


  1. Kristin @ Preschool Universe says:

    I’m so glad you reminded me of this classic activity. I love that you’re letting her use the hammer, too 😉

    1. Immy loves woodwork and has her own hammer, nails and other paraphernalia!

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  3. Hi,
    As a special ed. teacher, I make almost all my own materials. Just introduced the tin can phone to my students. Hint: Waxing the string with a candle helps a lot with sound conductivity and provides a great activity for the kids!

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