Introducing the Internet: – Comparing the Telephone to the Internet

Objectives: At the end of the lesson students should be able to:

  • Describe how messages travel over an electronic communication network
  • Understand the difference between telephone and electronic communication
  • Recognize that the communication over the web allows for no privacy as compared with the telephone

Grade:  Primary Cycle 2

Preparation and Material:

  • Access to internet and screen
  • Pictures of a computer (enough for half the class)
  • Paper cups and yarn, deck of cards, envelopes


  1. Introduce how the internet works by showing one of the following videos:


Step # 1:

Half the class will work with a partner to create a “cup and string” telephone system while the other half of the class will create a spider web in a small part of the class by connecting desks together with differently coloured pieces of yarn.

With the students who made the “web” watching, have the groups demonstrate how telephone conversations connect two people over a single cable.

  • With the “phone” students divided into pairs, one at a time, give a playing card to both of the students and asking them to quietly tell their card number “by phone”.
  • Ask the “web” children to guess who has which card
  • Reinforce the privacy associated with telephone communications

Step # 2:

Give each of the “web” children a photocopy of a computer and ask them to stand or sit at various points of the web. (i.e. at desks or chairs where the yarn was tied)

  • Each student says where in the world his or her “computer” is located.
  • Identify pairs who will communicate over the web. Give each of the web students a playing card and have one partner ask what their partner card is by calling over to them.
  • Their partner then calls back an answer and holds up the card.
  • Ask the “phone” students to guess who has which card
  • Reinforce how the Internet is like a web which lets computers all around the world talk to each other.
  • Reinforce the open nature of the Internet and the complete lack of privacy.

Summarize how Internet communications are different from Telephone communications:

  • Use a Venn diagram.
  • Have a class discussion on what information and why one should be cautious about when communicating over the internet.
  • Journal or verbal reflection on what they learned from each of the activities.

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