Cup-and-ball Game From Pop Bottle

One man’s trash is another child’s cup-and-ball game. At least that’s what I’ve always said. Or at least since the day I spotted the top half of a plastic pop bottle tossed out on the side of the road as we were walking home.

Soup kitchen - bottle top game

Often people use the bottom half of the plastic bottles to make ice or to send food to a neighbor, but the top half gets tossed aside. (Although we learned that the top half makes an excellent funnel.)

How to make a pop bottle game

When I looked at that trash, the image of a small, wooden, blue cup-and-ball game that we had as kids came to mind and it was obvious we should use old plastic bottles to make some games with the kids at the soup kitchen.

All we needed was a plastic bottle, a knife, a bottle cap, some string, and some sturdy tape.

How to make a pop bottle game

To make sure it would work, I pulled a plastic bottle from our recycling crate, cut it in half, and tied one end of a string to the spout of the bottle and the other end to the cap (after cutting a slit in the cap).

How to make a pop bottle game

Then I held onto the spout as my handle and tossed the bottle cap into the “cup” just like the game I remembered. Success!

How to make a pop bottle game

For decoration and safety I added a strip of duct tape to the cut part of the bottle and then called it a day. Well okay, before calling it a day I asked Isaiah to film this video of me showing off demonstrating how to play.

On Saturday, with our prototype in hand, we headed to the soup kitchen to create more games that the kids could take home and play.

Soup kitchen - bottle top game

Even though many steps required an adult to do the work, we tried to make the kids part of the process as best we could. They seemed excited and to enjoy it!

Soup kitchen - bottle top game

Our idea was for the older kids to receive the smaller bottles, therefore making the game more difficult due to the smaller target. I’m not sure if that idea fully came to fruition, but in the end everyone was happy with the game that was theirs, so it worked out.

Soup kitchen - bottle top game

And hey, perhaps we saved a few plastic bottles from floating around the streets to boot.

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5 thoughts on “Cup-and-ball Game From Pop Bottle

  1. Those look much more user-friendly than the ones I remember having as a kid. Those ones were dinky and kinda flimsy-looking, if memory serves.

  2. Necessity is the mother of invention. In the Dominican Republic, we saw children retrieving the large plastic caps from 5 gallon water bottles. They would then wrap many layers of 1/2 inch rag strips around the cap, until it was almost perfectly round. This became a very usable “baseball” and was ubiquitous around the country. Very clever.

  3. Hi, We are 6th grade boys who are working on a 4-H working exhibit and are going to do ours on eye hand coordination games. We saw your pop bottle game and were wondering if you would allow us to use your idea for this project. It will be done at our state fair in Iowa. If you could just email us giving us permission to the email address given we would have a copyright of it for our project.

    Thank you so much!
    Peyton and Cael

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