My kindergartener came home from school on Friday raving about this super cool game that he had learned in P.E. (Why this was a PE lesson, I am not entirely sure.) He couldn’t wait to teach all of us how to play–and all he needed was 12 cups that had holes in the bottom.

I grabbed a stack of paper Dixie cups and used a pen to poke a hole in the bottom of each one, and then Ellis got to work demonstrating. Here he is showing one sequence of the game:

Here is how you play:

Set-Up: Punch holes in the bottom of 12 cups (or you can buy Speed Cup set).

Have a speed cup competition in your language classes; narrate in the target language "Can s/he do it in less than __ seconds? Can s/he do it faster than [other student]"? etcGame Play:

  1. Stack the 12 cups in three stacks: 2 stacks of 3 and 1 stack of 6
  2. Start a timer
  3. Build 2-three cup pyramids and 1-six cup pyramid
  4. Return the 12 cups to their original stacks (2 stacks of 3 and 1 stack of 6)
  5. Build 2-six cup pyramids
  6. Return the 12 cups to a single stack of 12
  7. Set aside 2 cups
  8. Build 1-10 cup pyramid
  9. Return all 12 cups to their three original stacks (2 stacks of 3 and 1 stack of 6)
  10. Stop the timer

You can watch it in action here–you might want to watch it at .25 speed!!


How to make this a language game:

Simple! First, demonstrate the sequence for your students. Describe what you are doing in the target language. You’ll get many opportunities to use high frequency verbs (MAKE a pyramid, USE x number of cups, RETURN the cups to a stack, etc.)

Next, have a class competition! Ask your students, “Who can do it very fast? Who can do it in less than 30 seconds? Who can do it in less than 20 seconds? Who can do it faster than [me]?”

You can make two sets of cups and have duels or you can time students doing it individually.

Games like these (here are some similar ideas) provide quick breaks from your typical routines without breaking from language acquisition.

What competitive challenges have you tried?


5 replies on “Play Speed Cup in your language class!!

  1. This is taught in PE due to eye hand coordination abilities/development–increase their eye/hand ability and processing of movement.

  2. I love playing a kind of Simon says (without saying “Simon”) for learning new vocabulary. So for each word, the kids do an action. If they mistake, they are out. And the two or three winners get either treats or house points, since we have a four-house competition, all year long.

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