Ah, the telephone game – a timeless classic that brings laughter and confusion to gatherings of friends, families, kids, and even coworkers.
But have you ever wondered how to master this hilariously chaotic game and make it even more entertaining? Or do you just need some fresh inspiration for the next time you play it?
Whether you need easy phrases for kids or English learners, or you want something more challenging for adults, we’ve got you covered with 65 hilarious telephone game phrases plus some tips for endless fun and laughter.
Mastering the basics: How to play the telephone game
How is the Telephone Game played? Well, it all begins with a group of at least five people, sitting in a circle or a line. The game is played as follows:
- The first person picks (or is given) a starting phrase and whispers it to the person next to them.
- That person whispers the message to the next person in line, trying to stick to the original phrase.
- The game continues until the last person in the line or circle hears the message. The last player shouts the message out loud for all to hear.
The goal is to see just how close the final message is to the original whispered word or phrase without turning into complete gibberish.
Seems straightforward, doesn’t it? However, there’s a twist! In the telephone game, you can only whisper the word or phrase once – no repeating! This rule is what makes the game so challenging and, of course, hilarious.
You can adapt the telephone game to suit different groups and abilities with some of the following ideas:
- Play in teams, all given the same words, and see which team is closest to the original phrase
- The organizer writes down telephone game phrases on pieces of paper and the person starting picks one at random
- Use longer phrases or tongue twisters to make it more challenging (see some ideas below)
- For young kids or people learning a new language, use simple starting phrases of just one or two words
- For classes learning new words in a foreign language, ask them to pick their original word from the topic they have been learning about (e.g. animals, family, food)
No matter how you play, the objective remains the same: listen carefully, whisper clearly, and retain the original message as closely as possible.
The educational twist: Benefits of the telephone game for English learners
Aside from being a barrel of laughs, the telephone game can also be a fantastic tool for learning English. Carefully listening to whispered phrases and attempting to accurately interpret and relay them helps players enhance their listening and communication skills.
The game also stimulates a player’s creativity, inspiring them to generate their own unique interpretations of the phrases.
So, if you’re teaching English learners in a classroom, add this game to your lessons for some extra entertainment. You can find some more great games for kids learning English here, too.
Sharpening skills through play: What the telephone game teaches us
Beyond developing language skills, the telephone game teaches a number of other important skills, including:
- Taking turns
Plus, it’s a great reminder of how quickly information can get distorted when it’s passed from person to person – a real eye-opener!
So, now you’re ready to play, here is some inspiration for telephone game phrases you can use with kids and adults of all abilities.
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Simple telephone game phrases for beginners
For those who are new to the telephone game, or to the English language, it’s best to start with simple and short phrases using everyday words. Avoid tongue twisters or names that might be too difficult to grasp.
Here are some examples of short sentences for beginners:
- Bread and butter
- Sausage sandwiches
- Can you hear me?
- Nice to meet you
- Brush your teeth
- Great white shark
- I have no idea
- 10 o’clock
- Let’s watch a movie
These phrases are easy to understand, making it perfect for newcomers to ease into the game and build confidence.
Difficult telephone game phrases
Feeling confident and ready for a challenge? Try your hand at some difficult telephone game phrases that will test your focus and concentration.
To make a phrase harder to say and remember, you can include obscure or hard-to-pronounce words, as well as repetition of certain sounds.
- A dog chooses shoes to chew
- Bouncing bananas breakdance on the beach
- Luminous fireflies light up luscious lagoons
- I say it’s Tuesday, what do you say?
- Whimsical walruses waltz, wiggling their whiskers
- Benevolent baboons bask in Barbados
- Placid platypuses playfully paddle
- The queen opened her hands and ate a flan
The longer the phrase, the harder it will be for people to remember and recall. Studies show that most people can only hold five to seven words in their short-term memory. So, making your phrase any longer than this may push the game from fun to frustrating.
Funny telephone game phrases
There are two ways to make telephone game phrases more amusing:
- Make them nonsensical
- Make them unexpected, embarrassing, or rude in nature (keeping them age-appropriate, of course)
Here are some fun telephone game phrases you can try:
- Is my breath really bad right now, or is it just me?
- My favorite food is spinach ice cream.
- Could you order me a burger and fries?
- Can you can an uncanned can of tuna?
- You smell great today!
- Peculiar elephants paint polka dots on penguins.
- I don’t know how this game works. Do you?
- You would look great in a pink sombrero.
These fun sentences add an extra challenge: try not to laugh as you say them, because it will make you harder to understand!
Fun telephone game phrases for kids
Let’s not forget the little ones! For a kid-friendly version of the telephone game, choose phrases that are age-appropriate and easy for young minds to comprehend.
To make the game more entertaining for kids, opt for funny words or nonsensical phrases that will have them giggling with delight. Try using alliteration or picking some funny idioms as your starting phrase when playing the telephone game with kids.
Here are some ideas for telephone game phrases for kids:
- Can you fix your shoe with glue?
- The puppy munches on pumpkins
- Birds swim faster than tomatoes
- Please pass the peas
- Yellow bananas in orange pajamas
- Noisy Ned needs nuggets
- Rainbow sprinkles make my ice cream twinkle
- Ghostly gum tastes gooey
- Do you have ants in your pants?
- Spill the beans or go bananas
- You look as cool as a cucumber
- It’s raining cats and dogs
- A banana flew past an astronaut
- Cheeky monkeys chuckle about cheese
- Wizards wish for squishy fish
- Giggly penguins wiggle and jiggle
- Don’t tickle a pickle
- Don’t spread jam on spam
Remember, the key here is to keep the phrases simple, engaging, and full of fun for the youngsters. If they find it too difficult or don’t recognize the words, they may just become frustrated. When playing with older children you can introduce more complicated words and phrases.
Another tip for playing this game with young kids is to have the teacher or organizer tell the first player the starting phrase, rather than have them pick their own. This avoids a scenario where the first person has forgotten their phrase by the time it reaches the last person!
Tongue twisters for the telephone game
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider testing your linguistic abilities with tongue twisters, which add a layer of complexity to the telephone game. Tongue twisters are sentences that contain a combination of similar sounds or difficult-to-pronounce words that make them challenging to say quickly and accurately.
When picking tongue twisters for the telephone game, be careful to choose obscure sayings that people won’t already know. The best telephone game phrases are ones that can’t be guessed.
For example, “She sells seashells on the seashore” is a great tongue twister, but it may be too familiar to players.
Pick one of these telephone game tongue twisters, or try creating your own rhyming phrases!
- Sneaky ninja squirrels nibble on noodle nachos
- Cheeky chimps challenge champion chinchillas to chess
- Opulent octopuses oscillate to ocean operas
- Dizzying dragonflies dazzle, dancing daintily
- Don’t let your moose run loose and chase a goose
- How big can you blow blue bubbles without a bubble blower?
- Twenty turnips tried to take a tour of Turkey
- Jumping jackrabbits juggle jellybeans on a jumbo jetski
- Raccoons roller-skate on rainbows during raspberry rainstorms
- The hopping hedgehog made the hippopotamus hiccup
Themed telephone game sentences for special occasions
This is a great party game, so why not liven up a party or special event with themed sentences? There are some ideas below but you can get creative and adjust the sentences to fit the occasion.
Great telephone game sentences for birthday parties
- How many balloons can you pop with a pie?
- Chocolate cake all over my face
- Let’s have a frosting fight tonight!
- Cats look fat in party hats
- You’re getting old, so let’s party hard!
Christmas telephone game phrases
- Festive fir trees twinkle with tinsel treasures
- Santa’s sleigh slides silently over snowy slopes
- Jingling bells bring joyous jollity
- Pretty presents wrapped and waiting for you
- The tree stands tall with a twinkling star
- Silly socks and seasonal sweaters
If you are preparing for the festive season, check out some ‘Would You Rather’ Christmas questions for kids, too!
The whispered word: Crafting the perfect telephone game sentence
Now that we’ve explored various categories of telephone game words and phrases, you might be wondering how to craft the perfect sentence that is both amusing and challenging for players.
A good telephone game sentence should:
- Be an uncommon phrase that can’t be guessed
- Be no more than five words, or seven for a real challenge
- Be suitable for the age and ability of the players
To make broken telephone phrases more engaging and fun, use one or more of the following:
- Alliteration (repeated consonant sounds)
- Assonance (repeated vowel sounds)
- Obscure words
- Nonsensical ideas
Although the aim of the telephone game is to pass the message to the next player without it being distorted, part of the fun also comes from hearing how mixed-up it becomes as it moves along the line.
So, try not to take it too seriously, as it’s more entertaining when it doesn’t go perfectly!
In conclusion, the telephone game is a fantastic way to bring people together, have a great time, and sharpen various skills, all at the same time!
Whether it’s an office icebreaker or a classroom activity, this game is versatile and entertaining. So, gather your friends and family, and let the whispers and laughter begin!
More fun party games and icebreakers
What phrases are good to use playing telephone?
Make the telephone game more fun by using funny, nonsensical phrases with rhyming words. We have 65 to get you started!
What is another name for the telephone game?
The telephone game is also referred to as “broken telephone”, “Chinese whispers” or “pass the message,” and it’s sure to keep you entertained for ages!
How many people are needed to play the telephone game?
The telephone game works best with 5 people or more. You can split larger groups into teams, so round up your friends and get ready for some laugh-out-loud fun!
Can the telephone game help English learners?
Yes, the telephone game is a great way for English learners to boost their listening and communication abilities! It can also help reinforce new words and sounds they have learned.