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Build It Activity

Build It is a cooperative, team building activity that encourages students to work together, communicate, and think logically as they construct a geometric object to satisfy a set of given clues. If you’re looking to work on vocabulary, this activity introduces/reinforces words such as “face” and “edge.”

I learned about Build It from Stanford’s website.  The activity is from the book Get It Together: Math Problems for Groups Grades 4-12. The publisher actually has some sample pages from the Build It section on their website that you can download for free.

I created a task card to give my students with the instructions to Build It. Each group gets an envelope of clues.

build it activity

This activity is structured in such a way to encourage communication in groupwork. Each student has one to two clue cards (depending on the number of students in the group). They are not allowed to show their cards to their teammates.

All students must participate, otherwise the group will not have enough information to build the structure.

build it activity

I have the students use linking cubes to build the prescribed object. I have seen others adapt the activity to use lego or wooden blocks.

build it activity

I love that this activity encourages students to work together cooperatively to achieve a single, final product. Because each student can only see their own card(s), they need the other students in order to succeed.

build it activity

Students have to have a plan to be successful! My students struggled with this activity at first, but as the activity continued they definitely got into it.  They were so excited when they figured out each puzzle.

build it activity

I typed up a reflection sheet for groups to complete after working through the activity.

build it activity

Digital Version of Build It

Blue Crab Math blew my mind when she created a virtual version of Build It! Check out her Google Slides version here.


Thursday 11th of August 2022

How many blocks are required for each group? I wanted to make sure I have enough for my class.

Nicole A

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Hi! One question about this. Do students get all of the cards at once? Or are the cards labeled #1 supposed to build one structure, the ones labeled #2 supposed to build a different one, etc? In this case, when would the "in between" cards be distributed? Thanks!


Wednesday 1st of December 2021

Hi there! The directions for "Build It" from the book say to give students 11 cubes, but I noticed 12 in your bins. Are your cards made to match the 12 cubes, or am I good to give them 11?

Michleine Cloutier

Friday 10th of September 2021

I did this activity with my classes today and I really liked and (so did they!)...but we ran into problems with the Build it Between....the clues are contradicting and make it impossible to build one structure to reflect all six clues. Is there something I'm missing with this one?

Sarah Carter

Friday 10th of September 2021

Another teacher emailed me to say there are two conflicting clues. I have this on my list to fix, but I haven't gotten around to it with all the back to school craziness. That teacher just removed one of the clues going forward. 

Sorry for the confusion! 

Elliott McCarthy

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Do you have a list of the solutions for the 4 builds? I would love to say I have time to run through each one, but I'm not confident that I do!

Sarah Carter

Monday 30th of August 2021

I do not. Sorry! Usually, when I do this with students, I just read each clue and ask them to make sure their structure matches the clue. This lets me help them check their own work without an answer key.