Connecting Cubes

Connecting cubes are colored cubes that can connect to each other using either 2 sides (Unifix® Cubes and UniLink™ Cubes) or all 6 sides (linking cubes, Snap Cubes®). These math manipulatives cubes offer a visual and tangible way to understand counting, numbers, patterns, place value, operations, and parts of ten.

Virtual Connecting Cubes Manipulative

Virtual manipulatives, such as Brainingcamp's Connecting Cubes, include built-in mats for tens frames, number lines, place value charts, and graphs. The virtual Connecting Cubes also includes 10 color options and makes working with connecting cubes realistic, but fast and flexible.


Using Connecting Cubes


Label the numbers 1-10 in a horizontal row. Create and model the numbers 1 through 10 by stacking connecting cubes above each text label. Notice that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger than the quantity before.


Create a pattern that follows a rule. Ask students to predict the next term. Ask students to predict the nth term. See if students can describe the rule for the pattern.

Place Value

Using a place-value chart, put 27 cubes in the ones column. Show students they can group 10 cubes and move it to the tens column. Repeat with a second group of ten. Notice that the digits in 27 represent the number of tens and ones. Using different color cubes, model the number 14. Show that when 27 and 14 are added together, a group of tens can be made from the ones column and moved to the tens column.


Have students model two addends, put them together, and then count to find the sum. Model an addition equation and then have students find the missing addend. Demonstrate the commutative property of addition by showing that order does not matter. Demonstrate addition of three numbers and show that order does not matter.


Create a group of five white cubes and place a group of 5 orange cubes directly on top of them. Remove 3 of the orange cubes from the top. Have students count the number of orange cubes remaining and explain that subtraction can be thought of as removing one quantity from another. Show that subtraction can also be thought of as an unknown-addend problem.


Survey the class to find each student’s favorite color. Graph the results by creating vertical stacks. Label each stack with the color it represents.


Show that 5 × 7 can be thought of as the total number of objects in 5 groups of 7. Multiplication can also be thought of as repeated addition. Model a product and then have students find the unknown value in a multiplication equation. Demonstrate that multiplication is commutative.


Show that 6 ÷ 3 can be thought of as the total number of objects in each group when 6 is shared equally among 3 groups. Model a quotient and then have students find the unknown value in a division equation.

Parts of Ten

Fill a tens frame with 6 cubes. Count how many more cubes it takes to make 10 by counting the number of open spaces.