Tin Can Telephones

Last weekend we got a large tin of Tinker Toys at a yard sale.  The kids really enjoyed talking into the empty can, which gave me the idea that we should make tin can telephones.  Yet another thing I remember doing as a kid.  It’s so fast and easy too.  Just open a can of food. (I really recommend a smooth-edge can opener of some sort, so there are no sharp edges.)  Then use a hammer and nail to poke a hole in the can.  Connect the two cans with some string.  (Tie a knot on the string inside the can.) And done!  I taped on some strips of colored paper to add a little more visual excitement.  They were pretty impressed with how it all worked.  Never too early for a science lesson!

Above is a photo of a smooth-edge can opener. A very brilliant invention.


  1. chelseybell.
    April 30, 2010 at 3:27 am

    i love that the sides are different color schemes--boy and girl.


  2. Minna
    April 30, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Wow that´s easy and perfect reuse for those tin cans. Thank´s Joel

  3. Kickcan and Conkers
    April 30, 2010 at 7:55 am

    O gosh, I remember these (and I'm older than you...). Back to the basics, eh - always the best fun!
    Reminds me of a fab '60s Ladybird book I have called "Toys and Games to Make". It's full of things like matchbox doll furniture, box guitars, kaleidoscopes...I'll scan it for you, I think you'll like it.

  4. Golubka
    April 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Can telephones are so fun, very simple yet satisfying! The colour strips really add something to the toy. Great photos of Jack and Tess :)

  5. Bulles de Lune
    April 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    so easy but so good idea... i also like the tape's idea thanks one more time!!

  6. alexkeller
    April 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    we made these recently with our son - so funny to see the look on his face :)

  7. Trista Hertz
    April 30, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Great photos!

  8. Meaghan
    April 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    saw ya on ohdeedoh! love it! gonna make it!

  9. Joel Henriques
    May 1, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Thanks everybody, yeah, this was a very fun and fast one.

    Kickcan and Conkers - That book sounds awesome. I'll have to check that out!

  10. Sherry and Donna
    May 1, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Oh my goodness I remember playing with these as a child. Thanks for the memories!
    Donna :) :)

  11. anika ame
    May 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    i love recyling cans...so many uses! the colors are very cute.

  12. Annie
    May 15, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Hi hi i remember this game from when i was little it work¨s so good

  13. jokemijn
    May 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    your kids are absolutely the cutest :) I love the new games on your blog!

  14. n. davis rosback
    June 1, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    i have a can opener like that...it works great.

  15. May 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    [...] Tin Can Telephones – Anyone remember playing with these as a child? They’re really amazing! [...]

  16. June 3, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Hey I read about this on the Babyccino Blog, love your idea of the tin can phones!! We used to connect the whole neighborhood with phones like that, it was great fun :-)) Though, ours weren't as well "designed" as yours, hehe.

  17. September 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    [...] ötlet a Joel blogjáról [...]

  18. December 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

    [...] source [...]

  19. April 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

    [...] Tin Can Telephones [...]

  20. May 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    [...] your kids a science lesson and give them a new toy to play with. The tin can telephone is made by puncturing a small hole in the end of an already [...]

  21. Lara Grieten
    January 7, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Dear Sir/Madam, My name is Lara Grieten, I am the graphic designer for Psyche & Brein, which is a psychological magazine in Belgium. Firstly, I want to remark that the website of Made by Joel is absolutely marvellous. Its beautiful and handy creations are each and every one ultimate eye-catchers. Even more, the photografh of the two children who are playing with the can phones in front of a garage (I think) I found so spontaneous, charming and innocent. I loved it from the first time I saw it. I Therefor, I want to ask you if you find it possible for me to publish the image in our next copy of Psyche & Brein. I will be more then happy to credit the photo to your website. If you agree on this, is it also possible to send me a high resolution of the image? It concerned both the two children, playing together with the can phones. No doubt, your photograph will be an absolute advantage for our magazine. Also for this, I will thank you in advance. If there are any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Kind regards, Lara Grieten Graphic Designer Eos Psyche&Brein

    1. January 7, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Thanks Lara! I'll respond with an email.

  22. Arthur
    January 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Hi. I would love to use your immage of the two cans on a website instead of the standard telephone for the contact page. Can I please? (will credit your website) Thanks, Arthur

  23. February 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    [...] playing with a phone that doesn’t have the latest and greatest apps? You betcha. Bring back the classic tin can phone for a super fantastic science lesson and fun game to boot! Grab a hammer, a nail and some string and [...]

  24. February 16, 2013 at 3:01 am

    [...] Source: Made by Joel Filed Under: Family, Moxie, Relationships Tagged With: book, family, love, marriage, [...]

  25. April 2, 2013 at 5:56 am

    [...] Henriques of Made by Joel has you covered. The designer, artist and father of two created this handy tutorial, complete with tips, photos and everything else you need to keep the tin can tradition alive. [...]

  26. July 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    [...] Creative Commons via Made By Joel [...]

  27. July 12, 2013 at 7:03 am

    [...] MadeByJoel, themudpiemakers, [...]

  28. February 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    [...] madebyjoel.com [...]

  29. April 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    [...] designer, artist and father of two created this handy tutorial, complete with tips, photos and everything else you need to keep the tin can tradition [...]

  30. April 21, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    [...] Via link [...]

  31. May 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Hey Joel, I am about to tour around North America on a solar and pedal powered trike in an effort to make Sustainability Easy. The new site will have a "Call Stephen Now" Functionality and I would like to use the picture of the two kids on the string phone for the image. Is that ok? The tour is going to be called the SustainableJoes #RETHINK Tour. Thanks for what you do, Stephen

  32. May 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Please reply via e-mail if possible. Thanks, Stephen

  33. June 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    […] 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / […]

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