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How do you make a ball and cup game?

The ball and cup game, also known as bilboquet, is a classic children’s toy that has been around since the 16th century. It is a simple yet entertaining game that helps develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. The objective is to toss the ball into the air and catch it in the cup that is attached to a handle by a string. With some basic materials and tools, you can easily make your own ball and cup game at home.

What You’ll Need

To make a ball and cup game, you will need the following materials:

  • Wood ball – 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter
  • Wood cup – 2 to 3 inches in diameter and 1 to 1.5 inches deep
  • Dowel rod or wooden handle – 6 to 12 inches long and 0.5 inches in diameter
  • Strong thread or fishing line
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint and decorative items (optional)

You will also need the following tools:

  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Paint brushes (if painting)

The size of the materials can be adjusted depending on the age and ability level of the child. A larger cup and ball set is recommended for beginners.


Follow these step-by-step instructions to make your own ball and cup game at home:

Step 1: Cut and Shape the Cup

Use a jigsaw to cut the cup out of a piece of wood. The cup should be round or oval in shape. Smooth out the edges by sanding so there are no rough or sharp areas.

Drill a hole through the bottom of the cup. Make sure the hole is just big enough for the string to pass through later on.

Step 2: Cut and Shape the Handle

Cut the dowel rod to the desired length for the handle using a saw. 6 to 12 inches is typical.

Use sandpaper to smooth out the handle and round over the edges. This will make the handle more comfortable to hold.

Step 3: Attach the Cup to the Handle

Tie one end of the string through the hole in the bottom of the cup. Secure it with a double knot.

Add some wood glue to the other end of the string and wrap it around the handle. Allow the glue to fully dry before moving on.

The length of the string will determine how high the cup sits on the handle. 12 to 18 inches of string allows the cup to swing and bounce properly.

Step 4: Add Decorative Details

Now you can paint or decorate the cup and handle however you wish. Acrylic craft paint works well for adding color. Let the paint fully dry before use.

Some ideas for decorative details include:

  • Painting the cup and handle different colors
  • Adding patterns with paint or markers
  • Gluing on pom poms, fabric scraps, or ribbons
  • Wrapping the handle in colorful tape

Use your imagination to make it unique!

Step 5: Make the Ball

The ball can be made from a wood dowel cut to size or a solid wood ball ordered online or purchased at a craft store.

Sand and smooth the ball so it rolls nicely along any surface. The ball should be proportional to the size of the cup, about half to two-thirds the diameter.

Step 6: Playing the Game

To play, hold the handle in one hand and use your other hand to toss the ball straight up into the air. As the ball falls down, try to catch it in the cup attached to the handle.

Once you get the hang of catching the ball in the cup, try adding some challenges:

  • Take a step back each time you catch the ball.
  • Toss the ball higher in the air.
  • Swing the cup side to side before catching.
  • Catch with non-dominant hand.

Keep track of your personal best streak of catches in a row!

Tips and Variations

Here are some helpful tips and variations for creating your own ball and cup game:

  • Use a natural wood color or stain for a traditional look.
  • Pick brightly colored paints and decorations for a fun, playful look.
  • Attach jingle bells or beads to the cup or handle so it makes noise when caught.
  • For durability, use hardwoods like maple, beech, birch or oak.
  • Knot a small rubber band through the hole in the cup to help grip the ball.
  • For younger kids, start with a larger ball and cup for easier catching.
  • Replace the ball with bean bags or soft foam balls for indoor use.
  • Decorate multiple cups and balls for matching sets.

Get creative and customize your ball and cup game however you like! The simple modifications are endless.


Making your own ball and cup game is an easy craft project using basic tools and materials. Follow the step-by-step instructions to cut, shape, and assemble the wooden cup, handle, and ball. Add your choice of decorative details like paint, tape, or fabric for a personalized touch. Adjust the size and materials as needed to best fit the age and ability of the child. Have fun playing this timeless game that develops hand-eye coordination and motor skills along with providing hours of entertainment. Get the whole family involved and see who can achieve the longest catching streak!