15 Ways to Use Stacking Cups


stacking cups nesting cups

If you have a baby or toddler, you may own this set of stacking cups and nesting cups from The First Years. An Amazon Best Seller, it has been my baby’s favorite toy for months. Aside from its intended stacking and nesting functions, I’ve been dreaming up ways to make this classic grow with her.

Here are 15 ways to get the most of your $4, from infants to toddlers to preschoolers. Seriously…this toy is invaluable!

#1 Making Noise

I first introduced stacking cups to my daughter when she was about six months old. She immediately enjoyed mouthing each cup and banging them together.

#2 Stacking and Nesting

Of course, I had to include the intended purpose. Younger babies enjoy taking the nested cups apart and knocking down the tower that you stack. As your baby grows, he will figure out how to nest and stack on his own.

#3 Playing Peek-a-Boo

Hide a smaller cup or object under a larger cup. Your baby will be full of giggles as you lift the cup to reveal what’s underneath.

#4 Playing with Water and Sand

Take the toy to the bath or beach! Each stacking cup has holes on the bottom that make for great water play. You can also use them to build fun sandcastles with real or kinetic sand.

#5 Using as Blocks

The cups don’t have to be perfectly stacked or nested. Let your child get creative and build funky towers.

#6 Exploring Senses

Add the cups to a sensory bin filled with anything from dry rice, beans, or pasta to water beads, snow, or confetti. Your toddler will have fun using the cups to scoop and pour.

#7 Understanding Sizes

Give your toddler three stacking cups to learn the concept of small, medium, and large. Eventually, she’ll be able to put all eight cups in order of size.

color matching

#8 Matching Colors

Find objects that are the same color as each cup and have your toddler match them. This can be pom poms, wooden chips, or paper circles. The possibilities are as endless as your creativity and what you have on hand. You can start with just a couple of colors and work your way up to all seven (there are two yellow).

matching shapes with stacking cups

#9 Matching Shapes

The bottom of each stacking cup has holes that are a unique shape. Cut out those shapes from paper and have your toddler match the shapes to the cups. Or you may also already have shape flashcards or other shape toys that you can use. Again, start with a couple of shapes and gradually add more.

#10 Counting Objects

Have your toddler or preschooler count out the number of beans (or any other small object) that matches the number on the bottom of the cup. Have him line them up under the cup. Make it more difficult by having your child use tongs to transfer the beans from a separate bowl. Be sure to have the same exact number of beans as needed to help with self-correction.

#11 Matching Shapes and Colors

If you cut out shapes that are the same color as the corresponding cup, your toddler or preschooler can find a match by shape and/or color.

#12 Counting Shapes and Colors

Cut out multiple shapes so that your toddler or preschooler can take it a step further and count out the correct number of shapes and colors. For example, there’s one purple heart, two orange moons, three yellow triangles and so on.

Sequencing Numbers

#13 Sequencing Numbers

Work with your preschooler to put the stacking cups in sequential order, from number one to number eight. Eventually, he will be able to do it himself.

#14 Matching Number Symbols

Write the numbers one through eight on index cards and have your preschooler match them to the number symbol on the cups. They don’t necessarily need to be in sequential order.

#15 Playing Pretend

Your preschooler can have fun using the stacking cups in pretend play. A blue cup can be a pond or a swimming pool for a toy duck. The tower can be a mountain for a doll to climb. Any cup can be a cave for a bear figurine to hibernate. It’s fun to see how vast a child’s imagination can be.

I’m sure there are even more ways to play with these cups. Let us know how your child uses them in the comments below!

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