Today I’m sharing a variety of activities to help you get the most out of your unifix cubes.
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We have a small set of unifix cubes that we use for all sorts of math learning. Today I’m sharing some ways that kids ages 2-8 can learn with these colorful manipulatives!
1- Sort by color
There are ten different colors in our set of unifix cubes, so my dip tray didn’t have quite enough sections. But no matter… sorting 100 cubes (minus the 20 or so we’ve misplaced, ahem) is a big job – so my Two sorted about 7 colors before he’d had enough. This looked so fun my Four wanted a turn afterward.
2 – Roll a die and build a tower
My Two (going on three) is now counting past ten quite well and starting to count objects up to 5 without difficulty. The next step? Learning to recognize numbers. So I took one of our cool blank dice and labeled the sides with some small numbers to start (1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3). When he rolled it I helped him identify the number. Then we added that number of cubes to his tower.
3 – Comparing sets with towers
This idea from Prekinders was perfect for my Two. I printed some of these more/less/same cards. Then I placed down two cards at a time – of two different colors. My Two placed cubes on the squares as we counted together. Then we built the towers to see which was taller. Older kids would be able to tell you which amount was more without building the towers; building the towers and comparing them would be a way to check their answer.
4 – Graph unifix cubes
We have found a lot of fun ways to make graphs. This is another one to add to our list. I simply gave my son the printable, crayons, and a set of cubes in eight colors. He used some crayons to color a square at the bottom of each column to represent the colors. Then he graphed them and compared the towers. Get this printable at the end of the post.
5- Continue the pattern
These free unifix cube pattern cards from Heidisongs are terrific! I love the set includes a huge variety of patterns. My Four started simple with ABAB and moved into the tougher patterns. We began the pattern by placing cubes on the colored squares. Then we named the pattern (yellow, blue, blue, yellow, blue, blue) and he continued it. A year ago patterns made no sense to him at all, and now they’re a breeze. Yay!
Your child might be able to label the pattern (ABCD or AABB, for example), but my Four isn’t ready for that.
For an even more advanced pattern activity using unifix cubes, visit Stay at Home Educator.
6 – Model addition facts
I printed some addition flash cards and cut them apart. When I set out a card, my Four modeled the addition fact using two different colors of unifix cubes. Then he was allowed to write the answer on a stack of sticky notes using a permanent marker (the marker was the big attraction).
We definitely aren’t working on math facts yet (not even close!), but this was a great introduction to the concept of addition. Plus a nice opportunity to practice writing those numbers. (If you’re interested in some simple number writing worksheets for extra practice, check out this post.)
7 – Find ways to make 10 (or another number)
I was truly surprised (okay, shocked) at how well my Four did with this. It tells me I need to up my game with him and do some more thoughtful math activities. I printed this simple “ways to make 6” printable from The Linton Academy. Then I showed him how we could use 3 green cubes and 3 yellow cubes to make a sum of 6. He wrote down the two numbers in the blanks to show the fact “3+3.” Then we kept rearranging the cubes to make new facts. He actually did most of it on his own. (When did this little boy grow up?!)
I love that you can get free printables for ways to make 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the same free pack.
8 – Race to 20
I created this simple printable to work on a variety of skills with my Four. We took turns rolling a die and building onto our towers until one of us had a total of 20 cubes. You can get Race to 10, 20, or 30 by visiting this post.
9 – Build towers to 10
My Four was excited to practice writing his numbers using permanent markers on post-it notes (two things he does not usually get to use). After making sure the post-it notes were on a newspaper as he wrote (so as not to mark up our table!) he had fun writing his numbers up to 20. For this activity, we used just numbers 1-10. I made the towers, he counted them, and put them in their proper spots. You could also have your child make the towers. We were inspired by this block activity from Frugal Fun For Boys.
10 – Estimate and measure the length of school supplies
After their day at kindergarten and second grade, I gave a copy of this printable to each of my two oldest. They enjoyed making estimates and checking their guesses by making unifix cube towers. Get this printable at the end of the post.
11 – Use a balance
We used our balance so my oldest two could get a little more measuring practice. They found objects that weighed the same, less, or more than a certain amount of cubes and recording them on the worksheet. Get this printable at the end of the post.
12 – Introduce multiplication
The other evening, after he was supposed to be asleep, my Six came down the stairs very upset because his sister had told him that five times three equals fifteen. He was sure it had be eleven, and no matter what I said he wasn’t convinced. My attempts to teach him the basics of multiplication were lost on him, so I pulled this activity out a few days later.
To make it a game, I pulled out two dice and a set of six construction paper squares. The first die he rolled told us how many squares to set out. The second die told us how many cubes to put on each square. I showed him how having sets of a particular number is what multiplication is all about. We counted the cubes and wrote the multiplication facts.
Even more ways to learn with unifix cubes
- Model subtraction and regrouping like they did at Beyond Traditional Math
- Teaching Special Thinkers used unifix cubes to teach children how to tell time
- Teaching in Progress shows how to use cubes to teach kids how to count money
- The Hawk’s Nest used cubes to explore the commutative property.
Have you seen our ways to learn with dice? Another great manipulative!
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