7 Early Learning Cup Games for Kids

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Using random, everyday items in teaching certainly isn’t a new trend. We teachers will use any trick or tool for our kids that works! Our goal is to reach all of our students and help them learn in an effective, FUN way, right? (I hope you agree that learning can be fun!)

I have some kinder friends that are really in need of further intervention with numbers and letters. I needed to do something different and exciting to keep them motivated. We had a ton of little plastic cups (the smallest kind) so I grabbed a sharpie and we had new games within minutes! Nothing fancy, but fun nonetheless!

For alphabet games, I printed both the uppercase and lowercase letters on the cups (one on each side). You could also make two sets if you wanted to play matching games. For numbers, I started with 1-10 for this group, but you could do counting by 10’s, teen numbers – anything!

This game is a popular classic for number ID – “Hide the Bear”- where you hide the bear under a number and the child guesses which one. They have to correctly say the number before they can lift it up to check. Number practice that is exciting, and they get repetition in a fun way! You could change up what items you hide too, to make it even more interesting! You can also practice ordering the cups.

The possibilities with alphabet cups are also pretty endless. Here we were sorting in alphabetical order. I put a few cups out, they say the letter and sort them by which comes first in the alphabet, using their abc chart or posters to help.
You can also get beads or counters and go through the cups in abc order, having the student say a word that begins with that letter. If they can, they get to put a counter in the cup! A super fun sound game, and instant assessment when you see which cups are empty!

Here is a cup tower. We started at A, then stacked the cups in ABC order while saying the letters. We did the same for numbers.

This cup game is good for counting. Have a basket of counters or other manipulatives, and pull a number cup. The students says the number, then puts that many items in the cup. Great for one to one correspondence too!

For students that are ready to work on addition. Have two color counters or tiles and write equations on the cups! They use the tiles to solve, then put the answer (the entire group of tiles) in the cup!

To recap, here are the 7 cup games mentioned and played in this post:

Hide the Bear
Alphabetical Order
Number Order
Sound Cups
Cup Stacks
Number Cups
Addition Cups 

Of course, the possibilities are endless! Subtraction cups, build a cvc word.… the list could go on!

I love cup games! They are so easy to stack and store, and can be used over and over again! Do you already play cup games in your class? What games would you add to the list?

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