Box clever

23rd February 2007 at 00:00
Interlocking cubes lurk in every primary classroom, sometimes in a cupboard, sometimes on the floor and sometimes in children's hands. But how often are cubes fully exploited? There are lots of ways of using them.

Cubes have traditionally been used to demonstrate area, volume and measurement, but they can also be adapted into counting sticks, made into pentominoes, turned into letter shapes, used to model patterns, fixed together to make a block graph, joined and broken to practise number bonds, joined to make a ruler, and so on.

Why not use them in a reflective symmetry lesson? Put pupils in pairs, giving each child 20 cubes and some squared paper. Get them to draw a line down the centre of the page - this is the mirror line. Player A then uses the cubes to make a flat pattern shape, which is placed on one side of the mirror line for player B to reflect.

What about practising ratio? Use cubes of three different colours to make a flat pattern. For every one of the first colour, they must use two of the second and three of the third. Try getting children to make different variations of the pattern using the same ratio John Dabell is a numeracy consultant and teacher trainer

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