Tag Archives: 36 Cube

Athletes need strong bodies and strong BRAINS!

Our friends at Marbles the Brain Store shared this recent photo of Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall arriving at training camp, and it made my day!

Is that a football in his hand?  Nope, it’s ThinkFun’s 36 Cube, otherwise known as The World’s Most Challenging Puzzle!

Athletes like Marshall recognize that keeping their brains fit is just as important as physical conditioning.  Want to improve your athletic performance?  Follow his lead and “get your head in the game” ….literally!

A Creative Mom Uses 36 Cube to Build Early Math Skills!

The following post is from the Pajama Projects blog. Written by a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom, Pajama Projects shares fantastic tips and ideas for teaching young children through innovative and fun at-home activities!

We love the way this creative mom took “The World’s Most Challenging Puzzle” and made it an age-appropriate math challenge for her young learner!


ThinkFun 36 Cube

This is our own way to use ThinkFun’s 36 Cube.  You can find this puzzle and the real way to use it by clicking here.  For those of you who like those golf tee puzzles at Cracker Barrel – this one is for you, but it’s a bit more challenging.

We play with this almost daily, but in our own way.  We sometimes sort by color- get all the greens together, all the oranges, and so on.  Then we sort them from shortest to tallest or tallest to shortest.  Sometimes we put all the tall ones together, and then group them by size rather than color.  There are so many ways to play with them.  They also have grooves in them, where they are sectioned, so we can group by the number of sections each has as well.  This helps improve counting skills.

Overall, we have not used this game as intended at all, but have found it to be one we go to often and are always finding new fun and educational things to do with “it”.  Check it out… it really is a good one for all the family (for different reasons)!

Problem Solvers Unite to Tackle the 36 Cube Challenge!

The following guest post is by Eli Jannes, a fabulous teacher in Key West, Florida who has been a champion of game play in her classroom for years.  Here Eli shares the story of how her students kicked their problem solving skills into high gear to take on ThinkFun’s most diabolical puzzle!

Right before the winter 2008 holidays, I stumbled upon an advertisement for Think Fun’s new 36 Cube. This puzzle seemed like the ultimate challenge…complex, three-dimensional, intimidating. I had to order it.

Right after I received the puzzle, I got wind of a contest ThinkFun was running for anyone who could solve and prove their solution by the end of December. With winter recess rapidly approaching, I knew there was only a small chance we could experience that kind of success. I brought the puzzle to my classroom as an early holiday gift and explained the challenge, not knowing where it might take us.

The students’ reactions varied. There were those who started shaking with excitement during the morning meeting, edging their way closer to the puzzle so that they could get their hands on it first. Others started whispering strategies, planning what they might try. The remaining few backed away slowly, fully intimidated by the very structure of the puzzle.


We recognized early on that one puzzle for 30 students was going to be a challenge. The class worked quickly to develop a plan that would promote productivity and collaboration. They mapped out a schematic that represented the cube, cut pieces of colored paper to replicate the puzzle pieces and made enough copies so everyone could think through some possible solutions at the same time. The students also worked out a schedule so that groups of 3 could rotate through using the actual puzzle to try out their strategies. The scheduled times ran before school, during recess and after dismissal. They were hooked.

By the second day of continuous play, the children realized this was no ordinary challenge. They delegated a group of students to do some online research. They began reading about combinations, permutations, famous puzzles and even Pascal’s triangle. I smiled when I heard, “It can’t be random. Math is the study of patterns. There has to be some system.”

You learn a lot about your students when you present them with a novel situation. I enjoyed watching the confident fast-starters throw their arms up in despair, realizing that random moves got them nowhere. I was intrigued by the methodical planning of a group of quiet girls. “We’re not good at this stuff,” is what they said on day 1 but by mid-afternoon of the second day, the entire class was convinced that their strategy was the key to success. I had to smirk when I found a group of timid children quietly approaching the puzzle when no one was looking. I even learned a lot about my colleagues. When I brought the puzzle to a staff meeting, some quickly pushed it away from them while others begged to take it home for a try.

I wish I could say we figured out the solution but we didn’t. We came awfully close with just 4 pieces conflicting. The puzzle still captures the attention of students in the class even though the contest deadline is over. Remarkably, it doesn’t seem to matter that we haven’t achieved our goal. The process was worth the effort. We learned a lot about perseverance, teamwork, self-assurance and methodical thinking. We even learned a few things about math.

Have YOU tried your hand at the 36 Cube?!

Local Teachers Enjoy a ThinkFun Play Date!

We spent a fabulous afternoon yesterday doing what we do best… Playing!

We welcomed a fantastic group of teachers from St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, a co-ed JK-12th  Episcopal day school (and my very first employer!) located here in Alexandria, VA, who came to learn and play!

Just a week into their summer vacation,  these teachers are already gearing up for the school year to come, planning a pilot program to equip one classroom at every grade level with loads of new mind challenging games!  We  had a fantastic time sharing our games and helping these teachers decide which were best suited to their classrooms.

We’re looking forward to continuing this wonderful partnership… and while they didn’t solve the 36 Cube in one sitting, this brainy bunch has the rest of the summer to work on the solution – keep us posted!

Have you tried to take on the 36 Cube challenge?!  Warm up your brain by playing online, then tackle the real thing!