2+ Players


  • 8 cups, glasses, or mugs that all look the same and are not see-through.
  • 28 of the same small object, like beans or buttons, that fit under the cups.

Playing The Game

  1. On a flat surface, make two piles of 2 objects, two piles of 3 objects, two piles of 4 objects, and two piles of 5 objects. There will be 8 piles in all,  and each cup should have a matching pair. Small objects are choking hazards, so supervise children carefully.
  2. Put a cup upside down over each pile so the objects are hidden underneath. 
  3. Carefully slide the cups and objects underneath them around to mix up the order.
  4. Arrange the cups in two rows of four. 
  5. Have your child turn over a cup. Ask: How many are there?  
  6. With the first cup still turned over, have your child turn over a second cup. Ask:  How many are there? Are the piles the same or different? How do you know?
  7. If the piles are the: 
    • Same (matching): Hooray! Your child can remove the two cups and piles of objects, and place them next to himself/herself.  
    • Different (not matching): Try again! Your child puts the cups back over the piles.
  8. Keep playing until all matching cups are found. 

Tips for Having Math Conversations

Conversation Prompts
  • During setup, have your child help you prepare the materials for the game.  This is a fun way to practice counting!
  • Can you count three to put under this cup?
  • How many do I have here?  Can you make a group with the same number of [objects]?
  • You just made a group of three, what number comes after three?  Can you make a group of four?


  • During counting, if your child makes a mistake while counting, that’s OK! You can encourage your child.  Can you try again?
  • If your child counts an object twice or misses an object while counting, show them how you can put the objects in a line to count, or move them aside while counting.
    • When objects are in a group like this, it can be hard to know which ones you have counted and which ones you haven’t counted yet.  Sometimes it helps to put them in a line.
    • Another way to keep track of what you have counted is to move them aside as you count them.


Activity Modifications

Make it Easier
  • Make smaller piles of objects (1 to 3 objects per cup).
  • Include fewer cups (4-6 cups).
  • After lifting the cup, write down the number of objects in the pile on a piece of paper next to the cup.
  • Use objects that are similar but not the same, such as beads or buttons of different colors and/or sizes.
  • Use objects that are completely different.
  • Make larger piles of objects (5-10 objects per cup).
  • Include more cups (8-12 cups).