Trash Can Basketball (Rules and How to Play) 

Crumple up those dull worksheets, and let’s play Trash Can Basketball! From ages 6 to 16, competitive games like this make learning engaging and entertaining for kids. Learners of all ages will love playing this educational classroom relay race. 

Utilize Trash Can Basketball to reinforce all types of learning standards, including math, reading, science, vocabulary, and more. While this game originated in the classroom, you can play it anywhere space allows. Read on to learn the Trash Can Basketball rules and how to play.

Key highlights of this Can Basketball rules guide:

  • What is Trash Can Basketball?
  • What you’ll need to play Trash Can Basketball
  • Trash Can Basketball Rules
  • How to play Trash Can Basketball (Video Tutorial)

Read on to learn how to play Trash Can Basketball.

What is the Trash Can Basketball Game?

Trash Can Basketball Game Info image

Also referred to as “Trashketball” the Trash Can Game is an easy-to-play relay-style game designed to reinforce a wide variety of educational skills in the classroom. Requiring just a trash can and a piece of paper, this engaging game makes learning fun for students of all ages.

Number of Players: 2+

Ages: 5+

Difficulty: Easy

Length of Play: 15-20 minutes

Category: Educational learning games 

Similar to: Around the World, Sparkle Spelling, Sight Word Swat 

Main Objective: Teams or players compete to earn the most points by answering questions correctly and scoring goals by shooting paper balls into the trash can. 

Why We Love It: It costs nothing to incorporate this game into your schooling routine. Whether teaching in a classroom or homeschooling kids of varying levels, Trashcan Basketball is sure to be hit. 

What You’ll Need to Play Trash Can Basketball

Everything you need to play is listed below. However, you can purchase a ball and net if preferred.

  • A ball or simple wadded-up paper
  • An empty trash can, bucket, or container
  • Scotch tape or small traffic cones
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Area of Play

Clear an area of space and place 2 pieces of tape (or cones) on the ground to designate the starting point for each team. Center the trash can or container several meters from the starting point. 

In equally spaced increments, place at least 2 tape markers on the ground between the trash can and the starting point for each team. 

Divide players into 2 equal teams, and everyone lines up in a single file line behind the two cones or starting markers. 

Trash Can Basketball Rules

To begin, the teacher or leader calls out a specific question or problem that needs to be solved. 

Only the players at the front of their lines can answer the question. If another player shouts an answer, their team is disqualified from this question. 

The first player to correctly answer the question gets to shoot the paper ball into the trash can! Team members have 3 options when it comes to shooting and scoring points for their teams:

  • Shoot from your current place at the front of the line for 3 points. 
  • Shoot from the mid-way line for 2 points. 
  • Shoot from the closest line to “slam-dunk” for 1 point. 

If the student makes the shot, they earn the point based on their position distance from the trash can. 

If the student misses the shot, they do not earn a point. 

Either way, both players move to the back of their lines and the teacher asks a new question to the next two participants who are now at the front of their lines. 

This gameplay continues until time runs out, a desired score is met, or all the questions have been asked and answered. 

Alternatively, you could give all players only one turn, or you can ask the players to sit out after missing a question or missing a shot, so the game ends when only one player remains standing.

Optional Variations 

  • If a student misses a shot, you can allow the opposing teammate to try to make the shot.
  • Let all students shoot regardless of who answered the question correctly. 
  • Tell the students which marker they must shoot from. 

Examples of Game Questions

  • Math facts “7 x 4 =”
  • Spelling words “Spell incredible
  • Vocabulary words “Rain, sleet, and snow are examples of ______” 
  • Historical facts “Who was the 16th president of the United States?” 
  • Opposites “What is the opposite of hot?”
  • Synonyms or antonyms “Name a synonym for the word mad.” (angry, upset, etc.)
  • Parts of speech “Running is an example of a _____” (Noun, verb, adjective, etc.) 
  • Analogies “Petal is to flower as leaf is to ____” 

How to Keep Score in Trash Can Basketball

Keep score by tracking the number of points earned by both teams. Shots made from the furthest marker are worth 3 points, shots made from the midway point are worth 2 points and shots made from the closest point are worth 1 point. 

You can play to reach a certain score. For instance, the first team to reach 25 points wins!

How to Play Trash Can Basketball – Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is trashketball place value? 

You can adapt the Trash Can Basketball game to review or practice skills of all kinds. The place value variation simply uses place value questions for children to solve, such as determining what number is in the tenths place of the number 247, for instance. 

What is the meaning of Trashketball?

Trashketball is the clever name of the Trash Can Basketball game. Students can toss a ball or paper “trash” into the trash can to earn points for this unique learning game.

What is the difference between a wastebasket and a trash can?

The term wastebasket is just another word used for a trash can. Other terms include a garbage can, rubbish bin, or waste bin. 

Other Games Similar to Trash Can Basketball (Our Guides)

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