Tangram Fun!

A few months ago, one of the kids pulled out one of our tangram puzzle sets and started playing with it casually (not as they were "intended"). I had some down time and so I decided to show him what the tangram puzzle was about.  Tangrams are great because not only are they fun, but they are also educational. They help students use logic and develop spatial skills.

What are Tangrams?

If you are not familiar with tangrams, they are a set of 7 puzzle pieces (each piece is called a "tan")
The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (using all seven puzzle pieces), given only an outline or silhouette of the shape.

For example, given this outline:

You would try to replicate it with your tangram set (as we have done here):

The tangram set is reputed to have been invented in China over a thousand years ago and brought to Europe via trading ships in the 19th century.

A tangram set consists of the following shapes:

  • Two large right triangles 
  • One medium sized right triangle 
  • Two small right triangles 
  • One small square 
  • One parallelogram 

Tangrams are great fun for kids of any ages (and adults). For the younger kids, they often enjoy just playing with the shapes on their own. My ten year old, 15 year old and I played a good hour or two the traditional way,  trying to reconstruct shapes from outlines.

Where Can You Get Tangrams?

I was fortunate to have received our tangrams sets in manipulative kits that we got from our homeschool program (I think from our Saxon or Houghton Mifflin sets or both--we've got several tangrams sets, alhamdulillah)

But you can purchase tangrams, or even make your own!
If you want to make your own, you can print out a tangrams template onto paper (preferable cardstock as it is thicker). You could even use the template as a guide to cut out tangram blocks from foam.

Here are a few places to get tangram templates:

Tangram Puzzles - Outlines/Silhouettes

When you've got your tangrams, it's time to find some outlines or silhouettes to play with. Some tangram sets actually come with books that have outlines to use, which is great. But if you don't have outlines, here are some places online to find some (plus your local library may have some as well):

Virtual Tangrams

If you are on the go or just want to have tangrams fun on the computer or a mobile device, you can find tangrams games and virtual tangrams sets too:
So, if you are looking for an activity that is educational, yet at the same time fun, tangrams are a low to no cost option.