Snap Cube Workshop: The Spinner Project


If you are a regular follower of the blog, you will know that the students in my class LOVE snap cubes. They love them so much, we dedicated an entire centre in my classroom to them (you can read about our journey to embrace the the snap cube craze here: and here:

The Spinner Project evolved out of a popular way the students used the snap cubes at the snap cube workshop: they spun them. Constantly. At least once a day someone took a cube and tried to spin it. With some investigation, we learned that the children were trying to recreate “Beyblades,” a popular toy many of them had at home. (This isn’t the first time I had heard about Beyblades. In fact, for the last 5 years or so, I have been wondering what to do with the children’s interest in these toys.) The trick to coming up with an engaging and meaningful inquiry I find is coming up with just the right problem/question. It was during one of our reflection discussions that the question jumped out at us. Two boys were talking about spinning the cubes and each had made a spinner that was slightly different. We were trying to figure out if one spinner worked better than the other, and why. And viola!

The next day, we posed the following question: Can you build the best spinner? The children were so excited about this question! Before discovery time, we spent some time talking about what the word “best” would mean. The children came up with three criteria which we posted at the snap cube centre:


In addition to creating our criteria, we talked about the tools the children could use to assess the success of their spinners. For “spinning super duper fast,” the children decided capturing the spinner on video would be a good way to measure this. For design, we would take pictures of our spinners and/or save them to show at reflection time. And for “spins a long time” we showed the children how to time their spinning spinners using the timer on the iPad.


There were so many interesting discoveries made during this project! Here are some images and ideas we captured of the children’s experimentation:




The spinners got more and more elaborate as design became the focus of the children’s attention. We learned that, generally, the more elaborate the design, the slower the spinner spun.


The students were fascinated to explore the paths and patterns of a spinner’s movement.


Many children worked collaboratively: K: “We attached our spinners together and made it so BIG! It spins so much faster when they are together.”



In a large group discussion, we brainstormed a list of things that spin.


J.K.: “Mine is a square, but when it spins it looks like a blade, sharp. I was just experimenting to see if I can make the best one.”






Problem solving and experimentation were evident: S: “Mine is flat and I can still spin it. What if I add another cube on top and then I can use that to spin it – like a handle? [He tries it.] Hmm…that slows it down. So that is a bad idea.”

J: “My spinner is the best because it spins the fastest and for 29 seconds. Also, if you put a red block beside a while block it turns pink when it spins because white and red make pink.”

M: “I discovered you can make a spinner with just one cube. It’s small and it’s good to just use one cube because it won’t break and you can fit it in your pocket!”

Have you explored a spinning inquiry with your students? What questions/ideas did you explore?






4 thoughts on “Snap Cube Workshop: The Spinner Project

  1. Thanks for sharing! I always enjoy your posts! I am looking to start a project-based / play-based / inquiry-based co-op group with other homeschooling families in my area. I love seeing examples of inquiry in action, and have shared your blog with interested moms to give them some reference to what I am envisioning for our group. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi Kara,
      Thank you for stopping by. I’m so happy to hear that you have been inspired here. What a great idea to start a co-op group to share ideas with other homeschoolers! Collaboration amongst educators is such an important part of the inquiry process in my experience. Good luck! 🙂

  2. Oh, snap cubes and beyblades! I still marvel at how much time the boys in our FDk class can spend, spinning and spinning and spinning their “bey blades”! This week we have challenged them to use a new material (Kinex) to create spinners. I like the booklets with procedural writing to teach others how to create the “inventions”. I will look to incorporate this in our center, after they’ve had some more discovery time. Thank you for the inspiration!
    P.S. Do you remember where you found the tops with the markers, to show the path of the movement! I think they would love these.

    • Hi Theresa,
      I love the idea of challenging the children with a different material! That would open up so many new possibilities…
      If I remember correctly, I ordered my marker spinners (“Doodle Tops”) on Amazon after unsuccessfully looking for them in stores here. They came 2 in a pack for around $10. I have seen some around since then, but I can’t remember if it was at Mastermind, Michaels, or Party Packagers. Hope that helps. -Alexis

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