What can plastic cups do for your child’s development?

Updated: Feb 24

There are few play activities that can include as much developmental benefit as building with blocks. Whether your focus is social skills such as cooperation and turn taking, enhancing eye- hand coordination and spatial awareness or problem solving and planning; building is one play activity that can truly support your child in all areas of development.

But have you ever heard of building with cups?

Yes, CUPS! Cups are an inexpensive and novel way to incorporate the rich experience of building into your day. You likely have some sitting around the house to use or the next time you host a party, offer some cups to the bored kids and watch what they can do.

After setting up an open space with a flat surface, encourage your child to build by demonstrating how to stack the cups and asking, “what do you want to build?” or “How high do you think we can make it?”

Keeping this activity child-directed and open-ended can encourage critical thinking skills such as problem solving and planning as they experiment with many ways to arrange and stack the blocks or exchange thoughts with you on how to build bigger.

Try out the printable cup building formations for a challenge in visual spatial skills and planning.

Ask, “How many cups will we need to build this one?” or “What do you notice about the way the cups are stacked?” Encourage them to build their own formation for you to replicate, asking “tell me how you did that!” as a way to build self- confidence.

This is an activity they will want to do over and over again. Keep the cups in an accessible location so your child can independently engage in their building play.

And don’t forget to have fun with the best part, knocking it all down! Adding variety and experimentation to knocking it down is another way to incorporate critical thinking and experimentation.

You can also get creative with how you take down your cup towers. Your child will love it!

Ask some questions like the following:

“What do you think we can use to knock it down?

Will a ping pong ball work or do we need something heavier?

To learn more check out this video, or download the activity planning sheet.

For other fun ideas and activities use the search feature in our blog or watch this video.