Making crafts with your kids is such a fun activity. From designing and making your own plush toy to creating paper crafts in a unique style, there’s just so much you can craft in your home with just a few supplies.

Today, we are making a paper cup claw machine that’s super easy to do and will provide endless fun for your little one as they become a paper cup claw machine master. And what could be better than that?

Two paper cup mechanical claws picking up pom poms.
You can make this fun mechanical claw with your kids in a few easy steps

You’ve seen the flashing claw machines, sometimes called UFO catchers, at your local arcade, amusement parks, laundromats, or other public locations. You know the ones where the gameplay sees you insert a token, guide the claw over your preferred prize using the joystick, and hopefully when the crane drops, it grabs one of the plushies you really wanted. They are a popular attraction, that’s for sure, with some real claw machines even containing cheap jewelry or extra stuffies.

While these are lots of fun, there’s no doubt you’ve spent a number of tokens and probably never won anything, right? That’s because these arcade machines, with their flashing strobe lights, or a single bulb illuminating all the alluring prizes, packs of candies, and toys, only allow a winner every programmed number of drops. It has nothing to do with claw strength, a magnet, or whether they are shake-proof, that’s for sure.

And while you cannot make a full-sized claw machine at home, you can make the claw itself from a paper cup for hours of fun. This homemade crane machine is guaranteed to pick up your kids’ small toys, pieces of candy, small screws from the garage, Lego, or random dolls accessories, for example.

It’s a fun little craft to try that you can use like the real thing. Create free tokens, use plastic tokens or coins you already have, or make free play tickets from paper. Have your kids hand them over to make use of the paper cup claw crane machines and see who can pick up the most small toys in 30 seconds.

A paper cup mechanical claw in action.
You can pick up any small object with this claw, it’s that simple.

The winner can get a double prize pack of their favorite candy treats, a free plushie, or be exempt from their chores for a day. Don’t forget to keep a bonus prize for second place. It’s always useful to have an extra prize pack lying around for family games, that’s for sure. In fact, you can come up with a variety of prizes to use with it.

This simple craft is fun from early childhood to tweens, boys, girls, and moms and dads too! It’s a perfect Christmas & birthday craft as well, or use it as a fun party game surprise. Plus, reliability isn’t an issue like the real thing, as your mini claw machine will never break down. And it includes an exclusive “kids win” mode because it ALWAYS picks up something, unlike the real thing!

Your customizable claw machine can be constructed from single color paper cups, and it’s super easy to set up. But don’t forget to come up with included tokens to make the experience even more immersive. Upgrades can be made to each machine too. For example, you could add-on stickers to a white paper cup, or have your children color it in with their own designs and customizable graphics.

Follow these instructions below, and in next to no time, you’ll have your own arcade claw game, providing you and your kids with hours of fun and a hassle-free experience. These paper cup crane claw machines are pretty durable too, so your kids will get lots of use out of them.

Supplies needed:

  • Two paper cups
  • A drinking straw
  • A pair of scissors
  • Glue
  • Coloring pens and stickers (if you want to decorate a plain paper cup)

Paper Cup Mechanical Claw Build Video

Build your paper cup claw machine by using this step-by-step process

Step 1: You’ll need a paper cup to start. Cut a line along it, as shown in the image below.

Step 2: Continue the cutting process around the paper cup using equal spacing between cuts, as shown in the image below.

The paper cup after it has been cut into strips.
The paper cup will look like this once you’ve finished the initial cutting.

Step 3: Fan out all the cut sections into a flower shape, as shown in the image below. The bottom of the paper cup will be facing upwards at this point.

Folding out the strips of the paper cup into a flower type formation
Now fold the cut strips into a flower shape.

Step 4: Cut off four of the extended arms of the paper cup, as shown in the two images below. This will leave you with four remaining, each opposite the other.

Cutting off four strips of the paper cup leaving just four in a plus sign shape along the base.
Cut off the strips right against the base of the paper cup.
Folding the strips of the paper cup to form the arms of the mechanical claw.
Leave four strips in the form of a plus sign.

Step 5: Fold each arm inward at its halfway point, as shown in the image below.

Folding the arms of the mechanical claw on the paper cup.
Now fold the strips at the halfway point like this.

Step 6: Take a straw and cut it, as shown in the images below. This will be glued to the claw.

Preparing a straw to attach to the mechanical claw.
Get a straw. It will be the arm for the paper cup mechanical claw.
Cutting the straw so it can be glued.
Cut the straw.
Folding the straw in a manner in which it can be glued to the paper cup mechanical claw.
Bend the straw like this.

Step 7: Glue the straw to the paper cup claw using a glue gun, as shown in the image below.

Glue the straw to the paper cup mechanical claw.
Glue the straw onto the paper cup.

Step 8: Take a second paper cup and cut a hole in the middle of the base, as shown in the image below.

Positioning a whole in a second paper cup with a pair of scissors.
Make a hole in a second paper cup.

Step 9: Place the straw through the hole and pull it up so the claw arms are on the rim of the paper cup, as shown in the image below.

Placing the mechanical claw and the straw through the hole in the second paper cup.
It’s time to put the mechanical claw together!

Step 10: Place the claw arms over an object and pull the straw up, and they will grab it and pull it into the cup, as shown in the image below.

Using the paper cup mechanical claw to pick up items.
Time to have fun with your mechanical claw.

There you have it! A paper cup mechanical claw machine that will provide your kids with hours of fun. It’s so simple to make, and they will love spending time with you making it come to life.

Other fun crafting activities:

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