Hi Catwoman, I don't think my explanation was at all good! Let me try to be clearer.
I printed out some flat unmade net shapes for cubes from the Bond online resources (you have to sign in) where they have the 11 types of nets for cubes ready to print out.https://www.*** Advertising Censored ***.co.uk/nt-bond/fr ... 0Cubes.pdf
I cut each of them out keeping them them flat and not made into 3-d cubes. I would ask my DS to pick one and then:
- try to work out which pairs of sides would join together if the cube were made and colour along each pair of sides with a different coloured pencil
- try to work out which pair of sides would be exact opposites to each other when the cube is made up and on each pair draw/colour a quick picture/symbol
- try to work out which sets of 3 corners would join together when the cube is made up and mark each set of three with a different colour
After he had a go (and sometimes I timed him so he would work fast) he was then able to fold the shape and make it into an actual 3-d cube, and we would see if his colour coding worked or not.
It helped him to really understand how to spot opposite sides quickly (which can help rule out options) and to be much faster at figuring out which sides would be adjacent etc.. You can also draw arrows on sides and see what happens when the cube is made up - how the arrows change directions.
I guess if any child is not a natural at it you could start the other way round as you suggest and make up a blank cube, get them to colour it and see what happens when it is pulled apart. This might be a more gentle way to introduce the concepts! We didn't try it this way round.