History At Home: Ball and Cup Toy













Toys of the past part 4: Ball and Cup Toy


This toy was quite popular in Europe with adults and children alike throughout the time of settlement of the American colonies. In North America it was both a child’s toy and a gambling mechanism for adults, and involved catching a ring rather than a ball and cup.  Some Native American tribes used it as a courtship device, where suitors would challenge the objects of their interest to a polite game of ring and pin.  The object of the game is to swing the wooden ball into the cup, which is not as simple as it may appear. The task required the development of dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. The Victorian period saw many cups and balls of quite ornate design. The cup and ball is a particularly versatile toy which can be enjoyed in solitary or in the company of others. 


  • Small Plastic Cups
  • String
  • Wooden Beads
  • Wooden Dowels 3-5 inches in length
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Sharpie- To decorate cup
  • Paint / Washi Tape – To decorate cup


Step 1 Decorate your cup (Optional Step)

Step 2 Poke a hole in the bottom of your cup. Close to the center of the bottom as possible. Insert the wooden dowel. Use hot glue to secure it in place

Step 3 Tie a string around a wooden bead. You want the string to be about 4-5 inches in length.

Step 4 Tie the string around the base of the cup and use hot glue to secure it in place.

Now you can play and challenge your friends to a game of cup and ball!

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