While manning my table at the Festival on 28 July 2019, I encouraged children to play with some of the items I make and sell. The first was the Tangram Puzzle. “What’s this?”, you might ask.
From the Tangram Channel: The ancient Chinese art of tangram puzzles is a popular mathematical problem solving activity, finely tuned to bring out the best in pupils.
The tangram puzzle consists of 7 geometric pieces which are normally boxed in the shape of a square. The pieces, called ‘tans’, are used to create different patterns including animals, people, numbers, geometric shapes and many more.
With the felt board, I include a tangram puzzle in the shape of a square which consists of the traditional seven shapes (tans). First I show the children the large square made up of the seven tans, then I shuffle them and the children must try to reform the large square using the tans. Although all the children (and adults!) struggled and had to eventually be given the ‘cheat sheet’, their engagement in this activity was incredible. In fact, every child who played only stopped when their parents told them it was time to go (only after being allowed to correctly complete the puzzle of course!)
Why are tangrams important?
These puzzles teach children about spatial relationships, geometric terms and help develop problem solving skills. Some tans are produced in a single colour but the ones I make are all different colour, so you can also bring colours in to the learning experience.
How can you use tangrams?
The easiest way to play with a tangram is to allow the child to build their own shapes eg, an animal or a vehicle. Because there are only seven shapes (in this case) they need to get quite creative to build something that resembles something real! However, the most common way it to give the child a single coloured picture and they must reproduce the image with the shapes they have. This site is dedicated to tangrams – so check it out and have some fun!