Laughing cup

Have you ever heard of a cup that laughs? Hear chuckles, guffaws, and great belly laughs when you create a laughing cup. This activity will show you how it can happen – and why!

Grade level: pre-school and older, with help from a parent for the scissors portion

You’ll need:

  • Paper cup
  • Paper clip
  • String
  • Scissors
  • A small amount of water in a bowl

What to do:

  • Tie about 2 feet of string to a paper clip (make sure to tie a tight knot!).
  • Poke a small hole in the bottom of the cup with the tip of a pencil.
  • Thread the string through the hole in the bottom of the cup.
  • Before you use water to play with your laughing cup, see what happens without water.
  • First, hold the string taught and pull your fingers along the string. What sound do you hear? Do you hear anything at all?
  • Now, try out your laughing cup with the water.
  • Dip the string all the way into the bowl of water (make sure to saturate the string).
  • Holding the string taut, pull your fingers along the string a little at a time to make laughing noises.

What’s happening here?

Your fingers create a vibration on the string, which is amplified through the cup to create the sounds. You can play with different-sized cups to create a variety of sounds. Next, try using a coffee or soup can to see what kinds of sounds you can make. Have fun and try it out!