I’ve been wanting to build something with Jacob as part of a concerted effort to “do” more things together as opposed to simply hang out together. I don’t mean we always have to be goal-oriented, but I want to put some thought and effort into some of our time together to do some things that go above and beyond the normal. I have plans through the winter to do some more crafts together, and a couple of other projects too, but Jacob got a gift from a friend’s mother — a “assemble-it-yourself” Rubik’s Cube.
She had looked at it and thought it was too finicky to put together and she wasn’t sure she had the patience for it. It looked okay to me, but she was right, it was a bit finicky. But Jacob wanted to do it “quick”. For school, over the last four weeks, he has been doing a more mature version, don’t you know, of show and tell. Each student had to do four presentations in October, one each week, where they brought something from home or some photos and introduced it to the kids. Think of it as Toastmasters Junior, in a way.
One week he took the Mexican flag, and talked about our trip last winter. Another he took a bunch of souvenir hockey pucks from our trips to various Sens events. For the third, he took two medals he got — one for being the camper of the week at a soccer camp, and one from the Ottawa Race Weekend for walking the 2K race. Other suggestions — his old AFOs, or the Three Investigators series that he plowed through — were met with derision by him. Nope, not happening.
This week he wanted to do the Rubik’s Cube and take that. Which meant we had to do it early enough that he could not only have it finished but also figure out five things to say about it. Assuming of course that it went together at all.
The assembly started off rough, mainly as we had misplaced the instruction booklet that had been separate from the box. But I knew there was another booklet, so we found it, and started it. Basically, it went together in three stages.
First was the ball and internal mechanisms. Jacob could do almost all of the internal stuff once we figured out how a couple of pieces went in, although I put in the one small piece just to make sure it aligned properly. There were little springs to go on small bolts and sleeves to go on the bolts before they went into small holes. Then the two halves of a ball would snap together to make a little death star. Then the rotating “sides” attach so that the eventual sides of the cube can turn in six different directions. This last stage was the only one Jacob really needed me to do for him as it involved a slot-headed screw driver and a small screw, finicky indeed.
The second stage was assembling the 54 black “cubes” that make up the sides (six sides, nine per side). You start with the bottom layer, with a corner, and then work around the bottom alternating corner pieces and sides. Jacob could do most of that himself, I just held it steady and occasionally added a bit of torque to the shape so he could fit the pieces into the small gaps a little more easily. All the way to the top, and then I attached the final “rotating” side).
The final stage was transforming a 54 square “empty shell” into a true Rubik’s cube. The centre pieces on each of the six sides had to snap into place, and whoever designed them was a sadist. I never did check the age on the size of the box, but it was pretty finicky. I ended up using the screwdriver to “push” the edges into place so they could snap in. After that, Jacob started working his away around the 48 “holes”, snapping tiles into place according to the official pattern of which colours were opposite others.
He was so excited when we finished to rush over and show it to Mom, I didn’t even get a picture of the finished product before we messed it up and twisted it around. It took us somewhere around 45 minutes or so, nothing too hard, but it was fun to do it together. I was feeling a little pressure to help him do it quicker as we needed it ready for the show and tell session, even though we were two days ahead. Mostly we just needed to know it was going to work and that he would have something to show, or he would need to find another topic/item to present.
I showed him the info on Rubik’s Cube on Wikipedia to help him come up with his five facts, and he chose them. Then we altered the order and wording slightly as he wanted to focus on the fact that we had assembled it from scratch, and I sent the 7 photos to the teacher as she offered to show any photos on her laptop during the presentation.
Then we added the photos to a simple word document to give him a little outline to speak from (it was better to have it memorized but he felt more confident having notes for this one). And he said it went well.
I’m hoping our next “build” project won’t be quite so rushed! But it was fun for me too…