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Ahoy teachers looking for a creative activity for your next Math class! Crunched for time? This activity can be conducted in 20 minutes without any actual preparation. We have developed this short activity just for you super-busy Math teachers and parents who want to be creative but are time challenged. If you have tried and tested Jumping Math in your class and are looking for a new DIY Math activity, we present to you the 20-minute Rubiks cube Math activity! (drumroll)

Things you need for Rubiks Cube Math Activity

  1. A conventional Rubiks cube
  2. Class full of students
  3. White / Blackboard
  4. Markers
  5. Papers
  6. Pens/Pencils
  7. A time-keeper (in case of a tie)

Pre-activity Preparations

1. Divide the class into teams

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Divide the class into teams each consisting of 4–5 students. The arrangement depends on your class strength and also the time allotted for this DIY Math activity. Ensure the team members are all seated together. You can change the seating arrangement accordingly. Do not take all the pain yourself, get the students to work for this.

2. Assign numbers to the Rubiks Cube

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Allott numbers to every color in a Rubik’s cube. A Rubik’s cube has typically 6 colors, namely white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. For lower grades, keep these numbers simple. For higher grades, increase the difficulty level by including complex numbers. Ensure you choose the number appropriately . Write down these color–number codes on the board.

3. Decide the operations

Choose from the operations that your class has practiced in the syllabus. For lower grades, use one or maximum 2 simple operations, like addition or subtraction, at a time. For higher grades, include more than 1 tough operations, like fractions and decimals. Enlist these operations on the board to avoid last-minute confusion.

How to play Rubiks Cube Math Activity?

  1. Start the game by presenting one side of a jumbled Rubiks cube to the teams.
  2. Next, announce the operation that the teams will work with. The teams have to solve the entire side of the Rubiks cube based on the pre-decided color–number codes using the operation.
  3. Let the team members internally discuss and solve the equations.
  4. The team that comes up the answer first will raise their hands.
  5. A member of the team will come to the board, write the equation in number, and solve it.
  6. Now it is your turn to verify the answer.
  7. If the answer is correct, award one point to the team. If not, a member of the next team is called on.
  8. Once the answer is obtained, jumble the Rubiks cube again and present a different side to the class.

For example, consider the following scenario:

The color–number codes are

Yellow: 1; Blue: 2; Green 3;

Red: 0; Orange: 2; White: 5

The teacher decides the addition operation.

The Rubiks Cube presented is

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Ideally, the team should come up with an equation as follows:

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This same equation is to be written on the board for the teacher to check.

As the answer is correct, the team wins a point.

Some rules…

  1. The entire team has to raise their hands after finding the solution/answer. In case, a student forgets to raise his hand, the team would not be given a chance to display their solution on the board.
  2. The first student to come up to the board will be selected by the teacher. In the next rounds, the students will come as per their seating position in the clockwise direction from the first student who was called to the board.
  3. Each student from a team will get only one chance to write the equation on the board.
  4. Teams have only one chance to write the correct answer.
  5. If the answer is incorrect, other teams can try. If they are correct, that team wins a point.
  6. If none of the teams get it right, the teacher can solve it.
  7. Students can use papers to roughly solve equations while discussing. This rough paper can be carried to write the equation on the board.
  8. Calculators are not allowed.
  9. There is no negative marking.

Who is the winner?

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The team with the maximum points at the end wins.

What is the tie breaker?

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Considering that we are adopting the show-of-hands technique to determine which team solves first, ties are bound to happen. This adds to the fun and challenge element.

A tie would be when more than 1 team show their hands as a sign of completion at the same time. As a tie-breaker, members from their respective teams would come up to the board and solve the equation simultaneously. The team whose member finishes first and whose answer is correct wins a point.

Things to note

  1. Ensure this activity is played when the students have understood the Math lesson. Conducting it for a new concept would turn this activity into a dampener.
  2. You may change the color–number codes after few turns to make this activity more challenging.
  3. Ideally, this game can be conducted in 20 minutes, that is, you could complete 4 turns in 20 minutes. But if time is on your side, you can have multiple turns with various color–number codes.
  4. You can even restrict the time for every turn for the higher grades just to notch up the challenge.

How can I modify this Rubiks Cube Math Activity according to my class?

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For Grades 1–3:

  1. Start off with simple numbers in the color–number codes, e.g., between 0–10. You can even repeat the numbers in the codes.
  2. Restrict the operations to simple ones like addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. The operations can also be repeated in the activity.

For Grades 4–8:

  1. You could use 2-digit or 3-digit numbers including fractions and decimals.
  2. The operation could be more than one. For example, the teacher can declare alternate operations of addition and multiplication. In this case, the students must use addition and multiplication alternatively and eventually solve the equation by PEMDAS/BODMAS rule.
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Can this Rubiks Cube Math Activity be conducted at home?

This activity can be modified to a single player or 2 player game as well. The supplies required, method, and rules remain the same. Only there would be no teams. This activity would make an excellent break-time activity for co-study groups, homeschoolers, or even playdates.

Why is this DIY Math activity effective?

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Math skills:

  1. Provision of revision: This activity greatly helps in revising a completed Math lesson. Students would definitely prefer this activity to a boring revision assignment.
  2. The Math challenge: Students, irrespective of their grades, love challenges. This activity is indeed challenging given the rule: the first solver wins. Also, the fact that they do not have to disclose their answers and quietly solve builds up the excitement.
  3. Math time fun time: Solving regular Math problems in a fun way is most welcomed by students. Add fun elements to this activity, e.g., you could name the groups as renowned Mathematicians or announce an “Ernő Rubik Award” to the winning team which could be a small pen stand made during Art class or some memento (optional).

Life skills:

  1. Teamwork: Working in teams is quite a task for students, most of whom like the comfort of their own friend circles. Solving with classmates who may not be friends or could be competitors unites the class.
  2. Time management: Racking your brains to come with the correct answer before other teams not only trains students to pace up their Math solving skills but the race surely teaches how to manage time while working with numbers.
  3. Improve Logical thinking: This Math activity is a good exercise for your Math skills, be it basic or complex. It helps to improve Mathematical thinking.
  4. Pacing up the slow learners: With the entire team works hard on solving equations, slow learners will learn a lot just by observing their classmates come up with solutions. If you have slow learners in your class, do read our post on how to motivate them.

Math skills  that can be revised with Rubiks Cube Math activity

Grades 1–2

  • single digit addition
  • single digit subtraction
  • visually estimate sums and differences
  • adding double and triple digits

Grades 3–4

  • Quick and mixed digit multiplication
  • single into double digit division
  • decimals

Grades 5–8

  • Complex division
  • fractions
  • adding mixed numbers
  • solving ratios

Lastly, a few pointers

  1. Remember to be alert as you have to mentally come up with the solution before the students.
  2. Encourage stuck students by repeating the Math lesson.
  3. Appreciate efforts.
  4. Consider playing such fun activities on a regular basis.

Hope this short creative DIY math activity really helps your Math class and you enjoy conducting it in break time just as much we loved creating it for you.

Do not forget to leave us a comment. Your feedback will boost our creativity.

Want to see more of our out-of-the-box stuff? Have a look at some of our amazing Math games and math activities.

Happy Math-ing!