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Fun With Tangrams

I’m sure you’ve used tangrams with kids before when teaching about shapes. I know my students enjoy using the tangram pieces to make different pictures. So I thought I’d share…

I’m sure you’ve used tangrams with kids before when teaching about shapes. I know my students enjoy using the tangram pieces to make different pictures. So I thought I’d share with you a simple lesson idea to help your students learn about the tangram.

What is a tangram?

When I first introduce tangrams to my students I like to let them know a bit about their origin and how they can be used. Here are some points to help you:

  • Tangrams are a chinese jigsaw puzzle with only seven pieces.
  • It includes 5 triangles, 1 square and 1 rhombus.
  • The shapes of the tangram can be arranged in many different ways to produce many different pictures.
  • When making a picture all seven pieces of the tangram must be used. They must lay flat and touch and none of the pieces are to overlap.

Preparation

You will need to prepare the following items ahead of time:

  • A copy of the tangram puzzle for each student. You can download a PDF template for one from the website: About Education.
  • Examples of pictures that can be made from a tangram.
  • Large cardboard copy of each piece of the tangram to show your students. You can also place a magnetic strip on the back of each piece so that they stick to the whiteboard.
  • Sheets of thick card to stick the tangram pieces to.
  • Painted back drop to display the completed tangram pictures.

Lesson steps

  1. Use the large cardboard copy of the tangram to show the different pieces. Explain to your students a bit about them and how they can be used.
  2. Go through each of the pieces and get your students to name the shapes.
  3. Show your class some examples of the type of pictures that can be made from tangrams (see picture below).
  4. See if they can work out what each picture is.
  5. Provide each student with a copy of the tangram. They cut out each of the pieces.
  6. They then use the pieces to make pictures with the pieces.
  7. When they are happy with their picture, they stick the pieces to a sheet of card.
  8. You can have your students color their picture and then cut it out to add to the back drop.

tangramBelow is an example of some pictures my Grade 2 students made; we stuck them to an Australian bush back drop.

tangramExtension ideas

If you’d like to take this idea further, then below are some ways for you to do this:

  • Get your students to trace the outline of their picture onto another sheet of paper. Swap the outline with another student and they try to recreate the pictures with another set of tangram pieces.
  • Use the tangram pieces as a barrier game. Have 2 students create a barrier between them. One student explains to the other students how to arrange the tangram so that it matches his/her design. The partner moves the tangram pieces according to the instructions. At the end have the students compare the pictures. Ask them: why is the second design different from the first? What instructions and words could you have used to make sure both pictures are the same?
  • Have students modify one tangram picture to make another. For example, get your students to create a tangram picture of a kangaroo. Stick this to one half of a sheet of card. Now with another set of tangram pieces, create the kangaroo again, but in a different pose (or reflection) on the other half of the card.

Click here to find more fun math games and activities

Graphic Credits: Graphics From the Pond

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