Repeating lessons and practising with Speed Cups

learning by games

Sometimes you think: I should use this game mechanism in my lesson. For example, the speed required in Speed Cups. And the logical thinking that goes with it. With a few small adjustments, you can make the game suitable for your lesson. The big advantage is that many children know Speed Cups and so they play it that way. Without a lot of extra explanation.

If you make extra playing cards, you can even use the game to practise subject content in class. You can read how to do that in this blog.

Speed Cups is a quick skill game in which you have to arrange coloured cups correctly. If you want to train dexterity, pattern recognition and reaction skills – for example in junior school – you can use the game without further adjustments. You play the basic game as follows:

  • give each player 5 cups
  • put the pack of cards closed in the middle of the table
  • put the bell next to the cards

Now turn over a card. The first player to place their cups in the same order as on the card presses the bell. Do you ring the bell first? Congratulations, you’ve won this round! By the way, you may put the cups on top of each other or next to each other. As long as you have the right order.

Good to know

This blog originates from a collaboration with Daniel Behnke, teacher, game developer and curriculum designer. I translated and slightly edited this blog in consultation and with his approval here and there. I was also allowed to use his imagery. You can find the original German blog here: Game-Bases Learning in der Schule: Speed Cups.

Customising Speed Cups for your lesson

The goal of Speed Cups is to put five different coloured cups in a certain order. This order is determined by playing cards. All players simultaneously try to arrange their cups by placing them next to each other or stacking them. Whoever finishes first presses the bell and wins the round.

You can use Speed Cups for any box where pupils have to put ‘something’ in a correct order. That ‘something’ must consist of 5 elements and can be done in almost any subject. All you need is a colour printer or five coloured markers with which to make new assignment cards.

Practising subject content

If you want to repeat or practise certain subject content in your own lessons using the game, you must first create suitable playing cards. The game can generally be used when knowledge needs to be (re)organised, i.e. when it comes to certain sequences, structures (e.g. in biology or geography) or chronological sequences.

  • make a word / put letters in the right order / put phrases in the right order
  • make a sum / put a formula in the right order
  • put layers or models in the right order
  • make a correct chronological sequence of historical events, eras or processes.

The game is very quick and easy to access, so it can be included as a short activity. The game can also be used in higher classes, for example to practise vocabulary, improve spelling in a foreign language or to go through historical periods in history lessons. Ultimately, it is not so much about age, but about the specific target group’s enthusiasm for this game.

After playing, each group can discuss for themselves what the correct order of the cups is. In doing so, you encourage discussion about the contents. You can also choose to indicate the correct order on the back of each card.

Another practical point: to ensure that several players can easily read the instructions on the cards, make sure the font size is correct and that the cards are labelled twice (so that the instructions can be seen from all sides).

Lots of fun to play!

General information on Speed Cups:

  • number of players: 2 – 6
  • time: 15 minutes
  • from: 6 years for the basic game, after that depending on the subject matter you practice
  • price: around € 16,50 (Dutch price, February 2024)

You will find affiliate links in this text. If you buy Speed Cups (or anything else) via these links, you support the website and the work of Pen & Pion 🎲🧩♟️

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