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'Triple Cubes' printed from http://nrich.maths.org/
Why do this problem?
is an engaging one which may give opportunities for pupils to expand their spatial capabilities. It uses non-standard shapes to be put together and so stretches the imagination. Pupils will probably have had some experience of various construction materials and this offers something just a bit different.
Having prepared interlocking cubes in eight different colours, invite one pupil in the group to select one, then another child to choose another and connect it in some way to the first. Then invite a third child to choose another and connect it, etc. When all eight pieces are assembled together, pose questions and prompts such as: "Tell me about this."; "What do you see?"; "Any ideas as
to what this could be?" ...etc. Try to use open questions which will not stifle creativity or be too directive.
Give children the chance to have a go on their own or in pairs. Plenty of interlocking cubes will be needed! Listen out for the way they describe their models and how they communicate with each other. Are they using appropriate vocabulary? Are they able to articulate where they are going to put the next shape? How are they going about the task?
Digital photos may be a good way of recording the children's constructions. You could then use the photos as a stimulus to conversations in small groups or with individuals at a later date.
When they are making their own:
Tell me about this.
What are you making?
Do you have a name for this?
(Looking at theirs next to yours) Tell me about them.
You could challenge some children to make:
the longest one;
the one with most/least area touching the ground;
a mirror image of someone else's (including the colours);
the longest shape that can be picked up by holding just one cube.
Some pupils may want to start with just four triple cubes and explore those first.