What Can You Do With Unifix Cubes?
Unifix cubes are plastic linking cubes you will often find in children's classrooms. The cubes snap together and come in a
variety of colors, so they are useful for all kinds of fun math activities in the first grade classroom.
Here are some quick, hands-on math lessons with unifix cubes that your kids will love:
- Odd and Even Numbers: Let kids come up with a number and count out that many cubes. Put these in pairs so everybody
has a friend.
If each cube has a buddy, the number is even. If one cube is left out, the number is odd.
- Math Patterns: Start a simple pattern by connecting unifix cubes in an A-B pattern such as blue-red-blue-red, and let kids continue
it. Challenge kids to come up with a pattern for their peers to continue. Introduce more complicated math patterns as well, such as
A-A-B-B, or A-B-C, and challenge kids to take it farther.
- Estimating Numbers: Estimate how many cubes you can pick up with one hand. How about two hands? Four hands (you and a friend)?
How many cubes can the teacher pick up in one hand? After each estimate, test your answer to see how close you got.
- Counting Activities: Give kids one minute to link together as many sets of 5 cubes as they can. When the minute is up, put them
together and count the groups by 5. Do the same with 2s, 10s, 3s, or other sets for kids to practice skip-counting.
- Favorite Color Graph: Ask a classroom of kids what their favorite color is, and have them pick out their favorite colored cube.
Have the kids find everyone else who picked the same color, stand together, and link their cubes together. Once you have several
color trains, put the rows of cubes next to each other from shortest to tallest to make a 3D bar graph.
- Making Ten: Make a row of ten cubes. Have kids find as many ways to make ten with two colors as they can. See if they can find
patterns. How will they know when they have found all the combinations?
- Place Value: When you are teaching place value, make sets of 10 unifix cubes and leave other cubes separated as units. When adding, subtracting, regrouping,
or making larger numbers, use these manipulatives to demonstrate what is happening on the paper.
- Addition, Subtraction, and Multiplication: Make addition problems by setting out two piles of cubes, then pushing them together.
Make subtraction problems by starting with one pile of cubes and taking some away. And make multiplication problems by skip
counting or adding equal groups of cubes.
- Adding Doubles: Pick two colors of cubes, and count out an equal number of each. If you pick 4 purple cubes, get 4 blues as well.
Add them together. Ask kids about subtracting doubles, and see how many doubles they can say by heart. Use the words
half frequently as kids work.
- Learning Fractions: Have kids use any colors to make a train of 10 cubes. Then ask: what fraction of your train is red? What
fraction is yellow? Which color is 4/10 of your train?
- Measurement: How many cubes can you fit in your shoe? How many will fit in your teacher's shoe? Make a line of cubes to show
how long your foot is. Who has the longest foot in the class? Whose is shortest?
Unifix cubes are certainly versatile little things. Whether you are a teacher, homeschooler, or a parent looking for a way to make
homework easier to understand, you'll definitely want to pick up a set of these colorful cubes!