Exploring colorful cups in preschool

I am always looking for ways to invite the children just to explore colors. I have a set of brightly colored cups that I purchased this summer in the birthday party supplies at Target, so I brought them in for the children to play with…

I set them out on the table and let the children just play with them as they liked…

Some chose to stack the cups up to make a single line tall tower…

Others chose to stack them together across the table…

I was actually surprised that the children preferred stacking the cups inside each other rather than trying to stack them on top of one another. In this photo, the children worked together to create the tallest tower they could…

I actually purchased these cups to use on my light table but as you can see, the children had better plans for them!

By |2011-09-27T17:45:58+00:00September 27th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Debbie Clement September 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    LUVLUVLUVLUVLUV this post.
    Luv the colors.
    Luv the ease.
    Luv the sharing.
    Luv the documentation.
    Luv the whole entire concept!!!!!

    You’re the best!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the Luv Debbie:)

  2. Brenna September 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Check out this post I put up last week when my students were stacking cups. Not colorful cups but a similar activity as your class.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      I sure will!

  3. Kristina September 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    What fun colors! We have been using cleaned out empty play-doh containers to build lately. I have a feeling your cups would be way more fun 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      The bright colors add a little fun for sure!

  4. heather September 27, 2011 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    love it! don’t you just love when the simple things bring such collaboration and creativity? beautiful!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Yes I do!

  5. Cara September 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    So funny that you posted this, because I just posted about a similar activity with my 4 year old. I had no idea that plastic cups could hold a preschooler’s attention for so long! I’m going to have to get some pretty cups like yours now. Love your blog!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Thank you Cara — Isn’t it wonderful how some of the most simple things can be so much fun for young children!

  6. laral September 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    I would love to post this article if you would allow me to!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Where will you post?

  7. Susan Finklestein September 28, 2011 at 7:40 am - Reply

    I do this too, but not with the colored cups. They really have to learn to work together on this activity. And they learn that failure(cups dropping) can be solved. Great confidence builder.

    Love your site.

  8. Colleen September 28, 2011 at 10:07 am - Reply

    where did you find the clear colored cups? I looked awhile back for some and couldn’t find “clear” colored cups.

  9. Cheryl September 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    So did any color discussion take place?. . . You didn’t really say. . . I wondered if they would stack 2 together and observe a color change?. . . (Particularly if placed near a sunny window.) 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 29, 2011 at 3:07 am - Reply

      No, my original intention was to use these cups with the light table so we could discuss color but I realized that the children just needed to play with them this time. I will bring them out again later on and see if we can use them to talk about color a little more;) Great question!

  10. Esther September 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    A neat activity! My daughter loves stacking and I think she would love the colored cups. How fun! simple things can keep the kids engaged. Sometime back we had visited Tennessee children museum, They had built a gigantic sculpture using disposable cups and hot glue.

  11. pammypam September 28, 2011 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    on a whim i gave my older twos a bunch of dixie type cups this summer to see what they would do. who knew they would become the best toy ever? i had to keep giving them more and more cups, they couldn’t get enough!!

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