Teacher Mama: Counting Cups

Counting Cups

Boy Mama Teacher Mama: Counting Cups

I love the simplicity of this idea. I have seen a few different versions “out there,” but this is my take on counting with cups.


  • small paper cups
  • permanent marker


  • Using a marker, write the numbers 0-10 on the cups. OR have your child create his own cups and use them for the activities below.
  • Optional: Create an additional set of cups numbered from 11-20 to make the activities more challenging.

Counting Cups Games:

  • Order Numbers: Give your child the cups out of order and have him put the cups in numerical order.

  • Missing Numbers: Arrange the cups in numerical order and leave out one or two numbers. Have your child figure out which number(s) are missing and put the cup in the correct place.

  • Counting Objects:  Choose a few cups and place them in front of your child. Give him a pile of small counters (ie beans, pom-poms, m&ms) and have him place the correct number of counters on the top of the cup with that numeral.

  • Counting Backwards: Have your child arrange the cups in reverse order (from  10-0).

  • Skip Counting:  Pull out all the odd numbered cups and set them aside.  Have your child arrange the cups in order counting by 2s. Try beginning at 0 and counting by 2s and then start at 1 and count by twos. You can practice counts by other numbers as well. For example, skip count by 3s– 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15….

  • What’s the Number?: Stack the cups. Make sure they are not in numerical order.   One person picks the top cup making sure no one else sees it.  He then gives hints until the other player guesses the number. Hints may include…

the number is between 4 and 8. 

the number is bigger than 5 but smaller than 7

the number is even

the  number can be divided in half evenly by 3

if i had 7 apples and ate one apple this would be how many apples are left.

  • Addition and Subtraction: Turn all the cups so the numbers face away from your child and are not in numerical order.  Have your child choose two cups, either add or subtract the two numbers and say the answer.  This would work with multiplication as well.

  • Addition Surprise:  Arrange the cups facing your child.  Place a few counters below each cup.  Have your child select a cup and  lift it up to reveal the counters. Then have your child add the number on the cup and the number on the counters.  This can be done with subtraction and multiplication as well.

Example: Your child picked cup 1 which had 3 m&ms under it. Have your child add 1 + 3 =4.

  • Surprise Challenge: Set the game up the same as described for Addition Surprise only this time make sure that there are less counters beneath the cup than on the cup. For example, if the number on the cup is 4, the numbers under the cup should be 4 or less.  Have your child read the number on the cup, count the number of counters and then determine how many more counters are needed to make the number on the cup.

Example:  Your child picks the number 4 cup and underneath the cup is 3 m&ms.  Your child then figures that there needs to be 1 more counter to make 4 or  3+1=4 (or 4-1=3)

If this is your first time visiting Boy Mama Teacher Mama, welcome!  Did you know that you can also find us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and G+? Stop by to see what is happening!

© Boy Mama Teacher Mama 2012

All Rights Reserved

8 thoughts on “Teacher Mama: Counting Cups

  1. Pingback: Teacher Mama: 7 Uses for Paint Mixing Sticks in the Classroom - Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  2. I love finding new ideas to try with my preschooler. She would be great at this. I’ve got to make them this week. I think the missing numbers would be nice to help with her logical thinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *