Primary Pond

Sing, Say, Move & Play

Cup Games in the First Week


Well, my first week back to school with actual students is over and I am so happy with how it went.

In addition to my usual ‘here’s where you sit, now let’s review the MUSIC rules,’ I added something new to my first week of teaching: Cup Games.

I don’t know why I had never done a cup game with my students before! I got the idea from Pitch Publications’ Back To School File

At first, I was a little hesitant to try it, but I am so glad I did. The students I teach are very low, lots of whom don’t have much English. I had to do TONS of scaffolding, but, believe it or not, yesterday I had grade 1s playing a (simplified) cup game and today a grade 2/3 class got it right the first time!

Here’s some things I did to scaffold the learning:

  • Teach the song first, and do LOTS of body percussion patterns to go with it.
  • After we knew the song, the kids sat in a circle, and I explained that the hardest part of this game was to remember to pass the cup to the right. So….
  • We sang the song while passing ONE cup to the right, focusing on passing with a steady beat. We did that a few times, and then I’d add another cup, so we were passing two cups around.
  • When the kids could pass two cups around the circle, I went around and asked each child to tell me the name of the person they were passing the cup to.
  • Then, we continued passing the cups right until each student had a cup.
  • Once everyone had a cup, we sang the song (in this case “Hiccup Buttercup” with the primary kids), keeping the beat on our lap during the song and passing the cup on the last phrase.
  • When they could do that, we started adding other parts of the cup game to the mix.

I was super proud of my kids!

The intermediate kids are working on a cup game as well. This time, it’s from Aileen Miracle’s Songs and Activities for Older Beginners. 

She has a freebie on her site with videos that I had to watch about 100 times before I actually was able to do the cup game myself (I had never done a cup game before!)

In the course of the week, I discovered SO many benefits to teaching cup games during the first week of school:

  • It helped me to learn the kids names.
  • It gave me an opportunity to practice some of those music rules we’ve been working on (especially Make Good Choice, Involve Yourself and Show Respect… some of my boys were getting really silly).
  • It provided an opportunity for students to practice listening to directions.
  • For my grade 4s who will be getting recorders in a few weeks, it helped them learn left from right (because we all know that 9 year olds have no clue which is their left hand as soon as you put a recorder in front of them!)
  • I set the expectation that the children couldn’t make sounds with their cups when I was talking. I told them that if they could keep their cups quiet and still, I knew that they’d be ready for the Orff instruments in a couple of weeks.

Most of my classes aren’t quite finished the cup game yet. We probably have one more class to work on it before they’re ready to move on. Once we have it learned, it will go up on the “Games We Know” bulletin board for when the students earn a fun lesson!


One Comment

  1. Anne

    LOVE cup games. It’s the best way to take a song that maybe feels “boring” or “babyish” (their words, not mine!) and make it fresh. Also, what a great idea to have a “games we know” bulletin board! I always let them choose on a class reward day, but we have to rack our brains for all those games we’ve played since Kinder! Thanks for the tip 🙂


So, what do you think ?