Paper Folding to Make Cubes
Return to Mathematics Index
Koshy Kanicherilnalil Chicago Public Schools
1819 West Pershing Road
Chicago IL 60609
Students will examine patterns of figures composed of six-squares and
predict which of the twenty presented could be folded to make a cube. Then
students will fold large-scale patterns of these figures to confirm their
hunches. This exercise will develop the student's ability to visualize three-
dimensional objects from two-dimensional patterns.
Overhead projector transparencies of the pattern sheet and the record
sheets; printed copies of the same sheets, one for each student; scissors,
marking pens, etc. Construction or other extra-heavy weight paper to make
multiple-quantities of the patterns, made with ruler, protractor, X-Acto knife
and ball point pen.
Group students into cooperative learning teams of three or four. Ask each
team to close their eyes and visualize a "cube." Is it a box? Are the sides
(faces) identical or different? Is the box ("cube") open or closed? Can they
name any everyday objects which have cubical shape?
Then distribute the pattern and record sheets to each team. Have them
decide if a pattern will fold into a cube. Mark answers on the record sheets.
Teams will report their conclusions to the teacher who will enter results on the
Finally, distribute sets of the large-scale cut out patterns to each team
and ask them to fold each to make a cube. As the pattern numbers will match
the printed pattern sheet, the team will be able to compare, discuss and
perhaps revise their original judgements regarding foldability.
With better or older classes, this unit may be extended by asking the
class if they are familiar with games played with cubes. Many will respond,
"Dice" or "Craps." Enter a discussion of how the faces are numbered on such a
game piece: Opposite faces are numbered to add to seven. Then distribute a
third page to each team containing just the successful folding patterns with
only a few of the faces numbered. The team is to consult and decide upon the
numbers to be entered on the blank faces to make legal dice.
Mr. Larry Freeman, of Kenwood Academy, my group's mentor and also a member
of the SMILE staff in the Summer of 1993 has been of great help in making
available his personal library materials and in offering many helpful
suggestions for this project's development.