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Tell It Like It Isn’t Game (Telephone)

Tell It Like It Isn’t is the game most of us know as Telephone. Yes, it really is that simple.

This game works well at a meeting focused on communication. It can also be used to emphasize the importance of listening.

Tell It Like It Isn’t (Telephone)


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  1. Have the Cub Scouts sit in a circle.
  2. The first Cub Scout whispers something in the next Cub Scout’s ear.
  3. He whispers what he thinks he heard in the next Cub Scout’s ear.
  4. This continues around the circle until it is whispered to the last Cub Scout. He says what  he heard.
  5. The first person says what the phrase really was.
  6. Continue with a few additional phrases, letting somebody different go first each time.


  • Take the suggestion in the Tiger handbook that you use this to start a discussion about how things we hear might not always be accurate and especially how this applies to gossip. This is definitely a teachable moment.
  • Rather than just letting the first Cub Scout make up something to say to the second, I always provided some index cards with some phrases. This served two purposes. First, when the whispering stops, the first Cub Scout can look at the card to remember what he said. Yes they sometimes forget that quickly! Second, it ensures that they will be passing a phrase which is appropriate instead of something inappropriate.

More Resources

Respectful Listening

If your Cub Scouts are not listening to you or each other during meetings, it can be helpful to make your expectations clear and then give them some cues as reminders.

More games for Scouts

See more games for Cub Scouts. Some are instructional games and others are just for fun.

Controlling Chaos

These tips from Scouting magazine will help you keep things running smoothly at your Cub Scout pack or den meeting.


10 responses to “Tell It Like It Isn’t Game (Telephone)”

  1. Jessica Tyree Avatar
    Jessica Tyree

    Please share some of the example phrases that you used. This is my second year as a Tiger from 3 years ago but i do remember that what few kids i had that year had a good memory and did not change the phrases around at all so it made it hard to use as an example.

    1. Mr. Josh Avatar
      Mr. Josh

      “Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies.”
      “Jack and Jill went up the hill”
      “HA HA I fooled you, I’m a submarine

  2. Scouter Mom Avatar
    Scouter Mom

    You can use Cub Scout phrases like “Do your best” or anything really. The old Tiger motto “Search, discover, share” was one we used. If those are too easy, give them some longer sentences: “I am a Tiger Cub Scout and I have fun”. “Let’s go out on a hike”. If you want to get a little silly, add one like “My den leader is awesome” or “Den chiefs make Cub Scouting more fun”.

  3. Jessica Tyree Avatar
    Jessica Tyree

    Hmm. Ok I was thinking they should be longer so that they would actually make the mistake of telling it wrong. I like them though thanks for your website and your quick response . You have helped a lot.

    1. CubmasterMom Avatar

      I’ve led this game and included the Tiger Adult Partners, too! It’s funny: The adults are usually the ones to mess up the message first! LOL! First, each pair of Tiger Partners make ‘telephones’ (the old two cups and a string thing). Then we use them to play “Tell It Like It Isn’t”. I whisper the sentence first (so we know the original by the time we get to the end) and always start with a Scout. I include a list of things to make it challenging. For example, “I went on a hike and saw a blue jay, a squirrel, two bears, and a moose!” It’s amazing how by the end, the hike becomes a trip to the zoo or the store and the list doesn’t come close to the original phrase! I’ve found that when there’s more than three things to remember, at least one gets dropped and the rest of the words are changed by the end. The boys find it cool to hear each other’s voices so clearly over their ‘telephones’.

  4. Samuel Mauter Avatar
    Samuel Mauter

    If you need to forecast, forecast often.
    Real riches include the riches possessed inside.

    1. Franklin Fite Avatar
      Franklin Fite

      “The cub scout motto is to do your best at everything you do.”

      “The Cubmaster sounded like frog when he spoke at the Pack meeting”

      “Next year we will all be Wolf cubs, then Bear cubs, then Webelos.”

      “I went to the store and bought cookies, candy, broccoli and a lizard.”

  5. Lisa Avatar

    any suggestions or alternates for only two tiger cubs? Thanks

    1. Blue Avatar

      If you only have (2) Tigers, get another Den envloved. I have had Tiger Dens range from (3) kids, to (13) kids – 3 was way easier!!!

      1. Scouter Mom Avatar
        Scouter Mom

        That’s a great way to do it with a small den. Ask if you can do it as a gathering activity at a Pack meeting. Then you have an easy way get some kids from other dens involved.

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