Counting Cups

By Activity Bank on May 28, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Mary Jane Clark and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

This hands-on activity uses fine motor skills and counting to reinforce one-to-one correspondence. Lessons include Math and Independent Living.


  • Empty containers with lids. (Containers should be selected based on fine motor need. For example, if the student needs work on wrist rotation, use jars with screw-on lids in place of plastic containers with snap-on lids.)
  • Jar of pennies or poker chips
  • Glue to attach items to lid (Super Glue may be best, or white glue)
  • Sorting tray to assist in organizing the activity


  • Ahead of time, glue a different number of pennies or poker chips to the top of each container’s lid. Allow glue to dry so pennies or poker chips are firmly adhered.
  • Give the student the various containers and lids.
  • Set up the activity as an assembly task, with empty containers with lids on the left and a jar of pennies in the middle. Have the student work from left to right:
    • Pick up an empty container on the left.
    • Count the number of pennies on the lid.
    • Remove the lid.
    • Count the correct number of pennies into the container.
    • Replace the lid.
    • Place the finished container in the “finished” box on the right side of the desk.


This same procedure may be followed for reinforcing money combinations. For example, when working on penny and nickel combinations to 20, braille or print small cards with numbers to 20. Attach cards to the containers. The student reads the number, such as nine cents, and places the correct amount in the container.

Hint: A sorting box may help to keep the activity organized.



Read more about: Math, Independent Living, STEM, Transition