Open accessibilty tools

Rubik’s cube (1980s)

The Rubik’s cube is one of the best-selling toys of all time.

Talking about old toys

Use the questions below to talk with children about the Rubik’s cube. Talk about the image here, or use the questions to explore a Rubik’s cube (or other shape) you or the children may have brought in to your classroom or setting. Encourage children to use plenty of mathematical language in their answers: numbers, square, cube, edge, corner.

Try turning it into a game.

  • Look at the Rubik’s cube carefully for one minute. Then hide it, or close your eyes.
  • What colours can you remember?
  • How many squares do you think are on one side?
  • Look again – were you right?
  • This toy is called a Rubik’s cube. It’s a puzzle.
  • First you hold the cube in two hands and move the different parts in all different directions to mix up the colours. You can see a picture of it below.
  • Then, you move the different parts of the cube around again, to solve the puzzle. The idea is for each side to only have one colour on it.
  • It’s much harder than it looks. Did you know, it took the inventor of the Rubik’s cube a whole month to solve it?


This toy is over 40 years old.

  • These toys were really popular in the 1980s, about 40 years ago. People played with them all over the place – in the playground, on trains, or just in their bedrooms. Although they were a toy, grown-ups, as well as children, liked playing with them and trying to solve the puzzle.
  • Your mums and dads might have played with one of these when they were children, or when they were teenagers.

Explore through play

Set up simple repeating patterns for children to copy or continue, using simple maths equipment such as Unifix.

Start with just three different colours. Try introducing a new colour each week.

Children can experiment and play with pattern, making up their own.

Older children could set pattern puzzles for each other.


Rubik’s research

What else can children find out about this toy? They could use the internet, books, write to their local museum or ask a grown up. They could think of their own questions to research, or find the answers to some of these:

  • Who invented the Rubik’s cube?
  • What is the world record for completing the Rubik’s cube?
  • What other shapes can you buy that are the same sort of puzzle, but not a cube?
  • How big is the biggest Rubik’s cube in the world?
  • Why do you think Rubik’s cubes are not as popular today as they were in the past?

Toy timelines

Children could use the images in our ‘Toys and games from the past’ grid to find a toy that is older than the Rubik’s cube, and another that is newer. They could print out the grid here, cut out the toys and organise them into a timeline from oldest to newest.

Children could also use the grid to explore the kinds of toys children might have played with at different stages in their childhoods.

They could print the grid, cut out the different old toys, and group them into three categories:

  1. Toys for babies, toddlers and other children who are younger than me
  2. Toys for children who are about the same age as me
  3. Toys for teenagers and other children who are older than me.

They could search online or in magazines to find more images to add to their groups.

Are some toys suitable for more than one age group? How could children show this?


  • Click on the ‘Playing in the past’ tab to find old pictures of children playing with toys and games.
  • One of the fastest Rubik’s cubers in the world shares his secrets here.