Creative Play Ideas with Paper Cups

We traveled this summer, I kept our toy bag quite limited. I challenged myself to work with everyday items to use as toys for the kids when we were there. I even made a Pinterest Board with easy activities to do while traveling. Once we got settled, I took inventory of what was ready in the condo and went shopping for other basic items. One of the first projects we made were coffee filter sun catchers, very easy because we had coffee filters in the condo.

During our first trip to the store, I picked up small paper cups. My kids had really enjoyed playing with cups before we went away, but I didn’t know how much they would enjoy them on vacation. This turned out to be one of their favorite toys!

Since we've been back, I’ve picked up a couple of boxes of cups over the last several months. It's such a cheap investment for so much fun. Here are some of the creative ways my kids have used paper cups.

Creative Play Ideas with Paper Cups from Encourage Play

Build a tower

We’ve built all sorts of towers: small towers, large towers that use as many cups as possible, several small towers, low towers, even a pyramid. It’s so interesting to try to build different kinds of towers and see what will work and what won't. Lots of great practice solving problems!


After we had set up so many towers, they really wanted to start knocking them down. We use small balls like bowling balls and took turns knocking them down.

“Crazy game”

My son made this one up. We set up the cups in a single layer on the floor, then he goes through kind of like godzilla and tries to knock every single one over with his feet. It gets a little crazy (hence the name) but it makes him giggle and gets a little extra energy out. A few cups will get smushed, but you can pop them out pretty quickly.

Containers for small toys

Sometimes my kids would set up a cookie factory or a cookie store with connectagons, and the cups would serve as the containers the customers could pick up. Too cute!

Parts of art projects

My kids sometimes like to cut up cups and use them in their various art projects. They’ve made little maracas with beads inside or just some interesting creations. Two recent creations include a hair dryer and part of a house for shopkins.

Sorting fun

The cups we had in Toronto had a several different animals on them. The kids spent time sorting them out by animal and setting up a cup zoo. There was another recent batch that had a few different patterns in green and in blue. They also sorted those ones out by color and pattern.


How do your kids play with paper cups?

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