Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game!

Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game! - HeidiSongs

Today I’m going to tell you about a fun, easy, NO PREP, and FREE game to help kids practice the concepts of more and less, reinforces number recognition, and also teaches them some problem solving skills as well!  It’s called The Cup Game, and I’ve been using this little gem of a game since I started teaching Kindergarten in 1992.  Any game that has endured that long HAS to be good, so read on- I think you’re going to love this one!

Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game! - HeidiSongs

The Cup Game

Paper cups numbered 1-10 (or 10-20, etc.), and a small toy to hide underneath.

To Play:
The kids hide their eyes while you hide that toy under a cup.  Then they must guess what cup it is under based on your “more/less” clues.  They must first tell you what number they thin it is under, and then lift the cup to see if it is there.  Give clues by telling them, “The number is more than three.”  “Or, the number is less than seven.”  Eventually, they will narrow it down!  This game helps them learn the concepts of more, and less, and helps them practice number recognition as well. In addition, they are learning the process of elimination, which is one great way to solve a problem.
This is a great game to leave for a sub when you know you are going to be out, because it is easy and it is always a hit with the kids.  There is no prep (other than numbering the cups,) and no clean up.   Believe it or not, I have been using the same cups and toy since I started teaching kindergarten!  I keep them in a plastic shoe box with the instructions for the game in it.  I know how old this game is because the little “toy” that I hide under the cups is actually a nipple cover from the baby bottles that we used to use when my daughters were babies- and my youngest ones (twins!) were born in 1991!  This game is great to play in small or large groups both.

Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game!

Practicing more & less with the Cup Game!! 😍 #kindergarten

A post shared by HeidiSongs (Heidi Butkus) (@heidisongs) on


You may notice on some of the pictures, we had written the ordinal numbers “1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th,” etc. on the cups.  I added the plain numerals to the backs of the cups recently when we started playing it in TK, so you may see either or both in the photos.  I probably need to grab a fresh set of cups and renumber them, but the nostalgic side of me can’t bear the thought of it, LOL!

Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game! - HeidiSongs


Another way to play the game is to go beyond ten, of course, as is shown in this photo of when we played the game using plastic eggs instead of cups.


Another way to play is to use only even or odd numbered cups, or cups that use numbers that are multiples of three, (for older children) etc.


Sometimes it can be hard to get young children to really hide their eyes!  I tell them to cover their eyes and put their noses on the table/carpet, wherever they are sitting.  I also used a barrier, such as a testing screen to hide the cups while I placed the object under the cup.  The problem is that all it takes is for one child to peek and tell everyone (or point!), and the game is over.  Then you must start again, and no learning can happen.  So I’m pretty careful about that!

Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game! - HeidiSongs

Do you have a “go to” game that you’ve been playing for years?  I would love to hear about it!  Leave a comment and let me know!

– Heidi 🙂

P.S. Musical Math Vol 1 has More, Less, and Equal SONGS that would go great with this lesson! 🙂 Check it out here!

Practicing More & Less with the Cup Game! - HeidiSongs More Song


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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.

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