New Experience #47: Made a Tin Can Phone

tin can phonesOne of the best parts of our 52 New Experiences resolution has been my kids’ enthusiasm for the project.  I know that in the future they will naturally pull away from their mother and any idea I come up with will be met with a sigh or rolling of the eyes.  But, right now, while my children are just 7 and 5 years old, they love the extra attention they get while we are doing another New Experience.

They have lots of their own ideas for New Experiences, and I take most of their ideas seriously.  For example, going to Arlington National Cemetery was Luke’s idea.  My children also have attempted to use the New Experiences project to manipulate me.  When we are shopping, and they see a new toy, they have been known to put on their sweetest sing-song voice and say, “It could be a new experience!”  They also have a few unique ideas  that they think would be great to put on the blog.  Leah wanted to make bracelets as a New Experience.  I pointed out that we’ve made bracelets together many times.  She reminded me that we never made pink and purple and orange and blue bracelets, so therefore, that is a New Experience.  There is really no point in arguing with that logic.  We made the bracelets.  I just didn’t tell her that they didn’t make it into the blog.

So, I felt a bit obligated to try one of Leah’s ideas as our newest experience.  I’m not sure exactly where she got the idea to make Tin Can Phones, but I think it may have been on a cartoon.

tin can phoneI  downloaded some instructions online, got the materials out, ate some soup for lunch so the cans would be ready and prepared the kids to make Tin Can phones.  Any time my children are allowed to use hammers and nails, they are happy.  So, building the Tin Can phone was a lot of fun for them.  I had to help them guide the nails and have the bruise on my thumb to prove it.  It was very difficult to get the string through the hole and knot it, so I was the one who did most of the work there.

They were excited to try the phone as soon as it was assembled.  Unfortunately, our project was a dud.  It did not work at all.  I had prepared a whole speech on how sound travels through vibrations, but it was all for naught.  Instead, I started to explain how we needed to figure out where we went wrong.  Was our string too long?  Was our string too loose?  Were the tin cans too big?  Should we try paper cups instead?

tin can phone funHowever, my kids really didn’t seem to care that the phones were not working.  They were proud of their little contraption.  I am not sure they knew what they were missing as they yelled into their end of the phone.  They played with them for at least half an hour.  The next day they played with them again.

So, New Experience #47 was not a success in the traditional sense.  But, the kids got to use a hammer and nails and had fun, so I suppose it was not a complete failure either.

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also like:

Teach Your Child Science Through Real Life Experience

New Experience #3:  Build and Grow


About 52BrandNew

I am a single stay at home mom who is determined to live life to its fullest.
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14 Responses to New Experience #47: Made a Tin Can Phone

  1. Deb H says:

    🙂 you are such a good sport, Danielle! You may not have been successful making a working can phone but you & your children are making great memories together, ones you will enjoy for many, many years. Good for you all!! 😉 and what a great mindset to instill in children of all ages, to be open to new experiences. Have fun!

  2. I did the same thing with yoghurt pots when I was little, and spend hours “communicating” with my sisters as the string disappeared under the bedroom door…. I eevn recently told my phone provider that it would probably be more efficient than their service.

  3. alison41 says:

    Delighted to see you let your kids do the hammer & nails thing – it seems to me that many parents are wildly over-protective these days. My kids were young in the 1960’s & nobody was terribly worried about what they did – they just did it, and survived.

    • 52BrandNew says:

      Thanks! My philosophy is that, while I would never put my children’s in harm’s way, I’d rather that they break an arm on the playground or pound their finger with a hammer than get carpal tunnel syndrome from sitting on a computer all day long!

  4. Arwen says:

    Hi. We’ve just done this experiment at our play group. We found that a tin can phone worked if we only used a fairly short string and made sure it was very taut. Even then we only got a faint sound through them. We tried with paper cups as well and this worked brilliantly. The kids could hear each other really well through the paper cup phone. By the way I love reading all your new experiences and they have given me some inspiration for things to try with my son.

    • 52BrandNew says:

      Glad you are enjoying the blog! Thanks for the tip. I think we will try it with the paper cups. If my kids liked the phones when they really didn’t work, I’m sure they’ll love them when they do!

  5. Kelly Blizard says:

    Hi Danielle, So funny you just tried this. Sean came home from school this week and made this project, apparently they discussed it in school. He used large paper cups and they worked. It will be a lot easier on your thumbs too! Kelly

  6. Jacquie F. says:

    I’ve been wanting to try the plastic cup phones with my daughter. Sorry the experiment didn’t work but as scientists, that’s what we have to deal with sometimes, right 🙂 glad they had fun – that’s the main goal!

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