The Soma Cube was invented by Peit Hein in 1936. It is a 3-D puzzle made from seven irregular shapes, each made from three or four cubes. The cube itself is just one of many shapes that the seven pieces can be used to make. You can find these shapes, along with more information about the Soma Cube, on Thorleif’s SOMA page.
Working with the seven pieces to make different shapes is great for improving spatial skills. Being able to imagine how physical objects fit together is a good life skill to have. In addition, spatial skills often show up on placement and IQ tests.
You can buy a Soma Cube for under $10, but making one is even better. Making a Soma Cube is not only fun but also gets your students invested in the puzzle itself, which means they are much more likely to use it. I have done this with classes of third and fourth grade students very successfully. Just do one piece at a time, and have a parent or two circulating to make sure everyone has done each part properly.
To make a Soma Cube you will need:
- 27 identical wooden cubes (3/4″ – 1″ work well)
- wood glue
- wax paper or other work space
- a picture of the seven pieces
Assemble the pieces one by one being careful to line up the edges so they are even. Be careful with pieces five and six. They are not the same! They are mirror images of each other. You can tell by lining up the tall ends. When your pieces are dry, you’re ready to start solving!
There are actually 240 different ways to solve the cube, so you’d think it would be easy, but it isn’t for most people. Don’t give up, though; you can improve your spatial skills with practice.
Once you’ve mastered the cube, be sure and check out the different Soma figures. There are many puzzles to solve!
Encourage your students to keep their Soma Cubes (along with a printout of different figures) on the coffee table, by the phone, or anywhere else where they and their family members might use it.