Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Make Your Own Tangrams

When I was in elementary school we had two math classes. One was your typical (boring, if you asked me) adding, subtracting, short division then onto long division class. Boring, right? The other was a sort of applied math. I don't know if it was the teacher who made it fun or the math which did but we played a couple games to help build our daily math skills that I remember well. One of these was a dice game where, in your head, you had to add or multiply the numbers on the faces of 5 dice to get the answer. If you were right you got to collect that many unit cubes. Whichever team had the most cubes at the end of the class won. That was a great learning game I highly recommend! (and all you need is some dice- and cubes I guess, but pennies would do too!)

The other task I remember well is completing tangram puzzles. Tangrams are a set of shapes all related to each other in size that form a square when a whole. Separate they are a set of two large triangles, 1 medium triangle, 2 small, a square and a parallelogram. When you put them together you can form endless amounts of shapes and pictures. They really are a lot of fun. In my math class we had silhouettes printed on paper that we had to replicate using the tangram shapes. All of them. It's a mental work-out but it's fun and great for the brain.

My kid's been a sickie. It's winter. We're stuck in the house. I remembered: TANGRAMS! I dug around until I found the set my grandfather had gotten me. They were missing a piece. Then I realized, well, duh, I can make my own. So I did. And so can you!

Really, all you need to do is make a grid divided evenly into 16 units on some cardboard. Probably the easiest is the inch. Then divide and cut your square using the following pattern. Or you could just print up the one I made above on to some good old cardstock. That's really the easiest way. And they make a nice big set for little hands. The best thing about tangrams is they will travel neatly. Just stick them in a ziplock bag and throw it in your purse for restaurant waits. And if you lose one? So what, make some more.

Tangrams for everybody!

(and at some point I'll make some pattern sheets, but really if you google tangrams, I'm sure loads of pictures will show up for you to use.)


  1. this wasnt help ful

  2. This was very helpful! You are a jerk, Anonymous. And helpful is ONE WORD.