Have you noticed the Rubik’s Cube is back. Well at least in our part of the UK it is. It is a very common sight to see children playing with them as they come out of school. So we were delighted that John Adams sent us some new releases*.
Our Rubik's Experience
I’m a child of the 80s and have clear memories of trying to complete the Rubik’s Cube. And the only way I did it was to remove the stickers. And yes I really did that at least once, much to the annoyance of my mother who used her maths and logic skills to solve it. She also got pleasure from completing the ridiculously hard Rubik’s Cube jigsaw I was given for Christmas (yes the Christmas jigsaw tradition has been going on for a long time).
So my mother was better at the Rubik’s Cube than me.
Last year my children’s primary school introduced a Rubik’s cube challenge. They gave a number of cubes to each year group and asked the children to:
Complete one side
Complete the whole cube
Teach someone else to solve the cube.
For each challenge a child completed they were given a certificate in assembly. Our children soon got the bug, so we gave B, our 10 year old daughter, an original 3×3 Cube, and M, our 7 year old son, a 2×2 cube for Christmas. B got good and soon got her first certificate for completing one side, and could occasionally do the whole cube and teach people to do the steps she knows.
So my daughter was better at the Rubik’s Cube than me.
What makes Rubik’s Cubes great toys?
So what is it about the Rubik’s Cube that means it’s still popular after 40 years. Well because they’re addictive; either trying to solve it, or feeling the need to solve every mixed up cube you see. And there are lots of benefits for spending time playing with Rubik’s Cubes as they:
Teach you to notice patterns
Improve your memory
Teach you patience
Increase your dexterity and reflexes — especially if you solve the cube at speed
Keep your brain active
Are a way to start conversations — particularly if you have an unusual variation
Give you a sense of achievement when you complete it the first, second and third time
Develop your perseverance
Encourage you to break down complex problems into smaller steps
Increase your focus
I’m sure there are other benefits as well. Another advantage is they are not digital — which would you prefer your children to be playing with one of these or on a phone?
Different Rubik’s variations we’ve tried
Over the last 40 years I’ve tried many variations, with differing levels of success. How many have you tried and how many have you completed?
- Rubik’s Cube* — the original 3×3 Rubik’s Cube although the new version uses embedded coloured tiles instead of stickers, so you can no longer cheat, like I did
- Rubik’s 2×2* — a smaller version of the original cube which it is simpler to solve, although none of us have completed it yet.
- Rubik’s Snake / Twist* — another variation that came out in the 80s. I remember spending hours working out how to create a ball (which I can still do).
- Rubik’s Magic — another 1980s version that I owned. I also had a book that explained how to go from separate rings to linked rings, but then I learnt the quickest way and thought I was very cool
- Rubik’s Clock — I got this as a gift in the 80s, the aim was to get 2 sets of 9 clocks pointing to 12. Another one that I didn’t solve.
- Rubik’s Edge* — this is 3x3x1 so just one layer of a Rubik’s Cube, but some pieces can twist in directions you may not expect. I really like this version because it is small /portable and solvable. I know this because I solved it with no help from anyone or the internet. This gave me the confidence to give the original cube ago again. If you are looking for help to solve it my suggested steps are:
- Make the cube flat by rotating in any parts that are sticking out
- Get the outer edge colours correct
- Sort out the top and bottom edges, this is often done by twisting the edges from the Yellow to the White Side, you do this by pushing the middle column away from the two edge column so you can access the edge piece to rotate i
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Ad| I've just completed my first ever Rubik's Cube. Okay, it's a Rubik's Edge so only has one layer, unlike a full cube, but it is harder than you first think. I feel incredibly pleased and accomplished. Well I did until I tried to solve it a second time and lost my white sides in multiple directions! But I'm still holding on to the fact that I beat my kids at something Rubik's. How are your Rubik's skills? Could you do the cube as a child? Can you do it now?
- Rubik’s Orbit* — still has 6 sides, but they are based on three connected rings, and each side has four coloured pieces – and we are all finding this one hard
Multi Player Games
- Rubik’s Cage* — this looks like a large Rubik’s cube. You take it in turns to drop cubes into the cage, rotate the cube or flip it to help your chances of getting three cubes in a row, or impacting someone else’s chances. The cubes and cage feel great so it has been fun to play and I think it will get more competitive, once the children have more spacial awareness to think ahead about rotating and flipping the cage.
- Rubik’s Match* — everyone has the same cards which they use to build the same pattern. The first person to create it wins the card and the person with the most cards wins. The patterns start simple, but even I’ve found some hard ones tricky as you need to overlap cards, but have limited cards available.
So who solved the Rubik’s toys first?
I’m very pleased to say that I solved the Rubik’s Edge and the original Rubik’s Cube first. In fact, I’m currently the only one in the family who can do the Rubik’s cube. B is close, and she has a much greater understanding of why she is doing certain moves, whereas I’ve learnt a sequence of moves that get me there — eventually. So far none of us have made much progress on the Rubik’s Orbit.
Regarding the games, I have won each game of Rubik’s Cage as the children are still learning to think in 3D. However, it is difficult to beat B at Rubik’s Match. She really enjoys the problem solving aspect so has worked through all the pattern cards on her own, just for fun. At 7, M finds both of these games difficult and is slower at building the patterns in Rubik’s Match, but I’m sure he’ll get quicker with age and practice.
As we approach December, you might be thinking some of these toys would make a good stocking filler, for children or adults. And you wouldn’t be alone as a recent survey^ revealed a third of parents would choose a Rubik’s Cube as a stocking filler. And as a parent who gave them last year I would recommend it. My only advice is to choose a version that is challenging, but not too hard for them. For example, completing the Rubik’s Edge encouraged me to complete the Rubik’s cube, something I never thought I’d do.
^ 2000 people were included in the survey and other favourite choices includes chocolate and stationery (information provided by John Adams).
∗ Disclaimer – I received these Rubik’s toys in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something I may earn a percentage of the value. However it does not cost you any more.