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  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion

    Tangram Information

    A tangram is an ancient Chinese puzzle consisting of a square cut into five triangles, a square and a parallelogram which can be reassembled into an amazing number of different figures. Each shape in a tangram is called a tan and must be used to solve the puzzle. The tangram shapes must lay flat and not overlap any of the other pieces in the puzzle. Tangrams & Problem Solving

    A manipulative is any object that aids in students visualising mathematical processes. They are invaluable in the classroom because students retain information gained from hands-on-experiences better that information they gain from memorisation. Learning with their hands as well as their minds enhances the learning experience as students explore an abstract concept using a concrete element. Tangrams excite natural curiosity and motivate students to take responsibility for their own learning. Students will become flexible thinkers with a knowledge of mathematics that can be applied to a wide variety of situations and learn to become problem solvers.

    Adding to Classroom Practice The use of a manipulative such as a tangram creates an extra educational opportunity for all students. This extra dimension facilitates the achievement of more positive educational outcomes for all students as ah ha moments can turn negative feelings into positives. Students are able to enjoy mathematics because of its challenging puzzling nature. Co-operative skills are also developed as students are able to brainstorm possible solutions with a partner or within a small group and also have productive discussions with an educator. The use of teamwork and verbal sharing adds another dimension to mathematical experience. Tangrams are a valuable tool for students to explore spatial concepts. Learning experiences can be followed by individual reflection or whole class reflection. The combination of practical experience, discussion, questioning and reflection is as asset to all mathematical classrooms.


  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion


    Introducing the Tangram

    Allow students time to explore and familiarise themselves with the tangram pieces


    Look at the square which is a regular quadrilateral. How many lines of symmetry does it have? Are the opposite sides parallel? How many degrees in all four angles? Are the diagonals equal and bisecting each other at right angles?


    What type of triangle is it? Are the triangles all the same size?


    Define parallelogram. Does it have lines of symmetry?


    Explore mathematical terms such as flip, slide, turn. Ask students to describe how they move the shapes.

    Numbers and Letters

    Create all of the alphabet letters and the numerals 0-9. Trace an outline of them on a poster or photograph your own alphabet and number chart. Have students create their initials with tangram shapes and display.

    Make a Square

    Use the 7 tans to make a square.

    Congruent and Similar Shapes

    Challenge students to use some of their shapes to create a shape congruent to their parallelogram.


    Have students create some simple pictures and label them with a dotted line to represent the axis of symmetry. Find all of the axes of symmetry in different shapes.


    Estimate and measure the angles in the various tangram shapes.


    Order the pieces from smallest to largest. If the small triangle is a unit then how many units are in the square, a parallelogram, the medium triangle and the large triangle?


    Assemble the pieces to make a square. Which part of the square is made up of: Large right triangles, square, small right angles, medium right angle, parallelogram. Find the fraction of the square that each piece takes up. Convert the fraction into a decimal and/or a percentage.


    Once a tangram is made it can be stored in a sandwich bag inside individual toolkits. Consider placing magnetic strips on the back of pieces or purchasing magnetic tangrams so students can use them on small and large whiteboards. Give students a photocopy of various tangram pictures. As they create each picture have them record on the sheet.

  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion

    Daily Tangrams

    Students can solve a tangram each day of the week and record the results in their maths book or a maths journal. Start your lessons off with a competition to see who can create the tangram of the day first. Give students a photocopy of various tangram pictures. As they create each picture have them record on the sheet. This can also be a timed exercise with students trying to beat previous scores.

    Tangram Challenge

    Individual students can create tangram puzzles to be solved by the class.

    Classroom Book

    Create a classroom book of tangram puzzles and keep adding to it.

    Classroom Quilt

    Create a classroom quilt of all the tangrams produced.


    There are loads of interactive tangram sites. Great for using on the interactive whiteboard or for having students explore on the computer individually.

    Power Points

    Students can create their own tangram using Microsoft Power Point.


    Make your tangram into a 4 x 4 checkerboard. What can be created?


    Illustrate a story using tangram pictures. Check your library for tangram picture books.


    Have students create posters on some particular theme eg zoo, circus, theatre, sport, animals.

    Reduce and Enlarge

    Use grids to enlarge and reduce the size of the pieces.

    Crayon Art

    Create a piece of artwork that records the shapes of tangram creations. Have students carefully hold each piece in place and use crayon to colour across the edges onto the paper. When the pieces are removed the resulting tangram outlines will be displayed.

  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion

    IIQQ PPuuzzzzllee

    Individual Sets Cut around each piece and laminate. Give each student their own i.q. puzzle.

    Solutions Give each student a copy of the 50 shapes they can create.

    Toolkits The i.q. puzzle makes a great addition to a toolkit.

    Early Finishers Solutions could be found when students have completed other tasks. Have students complete a checklist as they solve puzzle outlines.

    Jeopardy This is a great problem solving activity to keep students engaged during other activities such as a class jeopardy quiz.

    Time Challenges How many of the challenges can you solve in a set time.

    Home Links Why not send a set home for the family to explore. Findings could be recorded in a home maths learning journal.

    Staff Challenge This could be used as a staff meeting exercise. Individuals or groups could work on the challenge.

    Icebreaker If you are running your own professional development session the puzzle could be used as a starting activity.

    Internet Search Have students search the internet for similar puzzles.

    Brainstorm What other ideas can you come up with?

    Beat the clock Set the timer and see how many shapes you can make in a certain amount of time. Can you beat the previous score?

  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion

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  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion

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  • Trish Boschetti Cluster Coordinator Phase 1 Maths for Learning Inclusion

    IInntteerraaccttiivvee TTaannggrraamm WWeebbssiitteess http://www.apples4theteacher.com/tangrams.html Children develop thinking and reasoning skills through the use of the tangram.


    Use the seven tans in the game to recreate the following tangrams: square, cat, phoenix, rabbit, duck, dinosaur, swan

    http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/tangram.swf Use the seven pieces to make a variety of shapes.

    http://www.tygh.co.uk/tan/tan.htm Watch as the movie tells a story using tangrams.

    http://www.inventionatplay.org/playhouse_puzzle.html An interactive tangram activity suitable for younger students.

    http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/suel/maths/tangrams.html Links to several tangram sites. The tangram movie is very interesting.

    http://www.utdanacenter.org/mathtoolkit/instruction/lessons/4_tangrams.php Lesson ideas to use with Grandfather Tangs Story