10 Ways to Turn a Used Fruit Cup into the Best Toy Ever

Jul 29, 2016

My kids eat a lot of applesauce. Meanwhile, I eat a lot of yogurt. So between the three of us, we quickly amass a lot of individual sized plastic cups. Perhaps you do too, especially during the school year. However, before these cups make their way to the recycle bin, I like to hang onto them for activities and crafts for my boys. You should too because these cups are versatile!

So if you are a hoarder of recycling like I am, then you are going to love these simple boredom busters for kids that use plastic applesauce (or yogurt) cups.

1. DIY Mini Strainers

Making little mini strainers for sensory play or even for playtime in the bath tub is super easy! Simply use a pair of scissors to poke holes in the bottom of some plastic applesauce cups. Then let the kids pour water through them. Or switch it up and try these DIY mini strainers in a sensory bin with colored salt!

A child watches as water strains through holes punched in the bottom of a plastic fruit cup.

2. Paint Cups

I love to hang onto these plastic applesauce cups simply because they make the perfect containers for painting. I like to put one color of paint in its own cup. Then I also like to fill one cup with water. So when the kids want to paint, divvy up the paint using these cups.

3. Circle Stamps

Speaking of painting, why not use these cups as stamps to create some fun abstract art? Dip the cup (either the top rim or the bottom will work) into some paint and then stamp onto some paper.

4. Cup Stacking

Cup stacking has been a favorite in our house since my oldest (who is almost 7) was a toddler. He would spend hours building tall towers with the cups and then happily crash them down with his hands. Then when my youngest was a toddler, the two of them would take turns building and crashing the towers.

Two kids stacking empty plastic fruit cups into towers on the floor.

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5. Plastic Cup Mobile Craft

Get the kids to decorate a plastic cup using stickers, permanent markers and/or washi tape. Punch holes along the top rim of the cup. Thread some string or fishing wire through the holes and have the kids thread some beads onto the string. Finally, punch a hole in the bottom of the applesauce cup and thread a string through the hole so that you can hang the mobile up.

6. Fine Motor Math Tray

Using a permanent marker, write numbers in the bottoms of the plastic cups. Then set out some fine motor tools like tweezers or tongs and some small manipulatives, such as pom poms, jingle bells, glass beads or buttons. Have the kids count out the correct number of items and place them in the cups with the corresponding number.

A tray with empty fruit cups, pom poms and tongs. Numbers are written on the bottom of the cups.

As a variation to practice addition, pick two labelled cups and have your child add the correct number of pom poms. Then dump the pom poms from the two cups into a third unlabeled cup to solve the math equation.

And don't forget to try them on a light table too!

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7. Fine Motor Color Sorting Tray

Similar to the math tray above, you can focus on colour sorting. Instead of labelling the plastic cups with numbers, colour the bottoms of the cups with coloured permanent markers. Then have your child sort the pom poms (or buttons or glass stones) into the corresponding cup.

Psst...these DIY coloured cups work awesome on the light table too!

8. Pom Pom Toss

Set some plastic cups on the floor and have your child stand about one foot away from the cups. Encourage them to toss the pom poms into the cups. You could toss in some learning by encouraging them to sort the pom poms by color into different cups.

A boy stands about two feet away from an empty fruit cup, tossing pom poms into the cup sitting on the floor.

9. Sandbox Scoops

Instead of buying shovels for the sandbox, use the plastic cups to dig in the sandbox. These cups also work great for making mini sandcastles with kinetic sand!

10. DIY Musical Shakers

To make musical shakers, you will need two plastic cups, small items (such as jingle bells, buttons, beans, coins, pony beads, etc.), and something to seal the cups together (such as washi tape or super glue). Place the items inside the two cups and adhere the cups together. Then let the kids shake, shake, shake!

A boy holding a DIY shaker made from plastic fruit cups.

What are some other fun ways that you could let the kids play and create with these plastic cups?

Article Author Dyan Robson
Dyan Robson

Read more from Dyan here.

Married to her high school sweetheart, Dyan is mom to two boys, J and K, who also teaches piano out of her home. On her blog And Next Comes L, Dyan shares her story of raising a child with hyperlexia, hypernumeracy and autism, amongst a variety of sensory activities for kids. You can find out more about their story on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.


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