Students create their own tangrams and talk about shapes, sizes, similarities and differences.

You will need:

  • For each student, a triangle cut along the diagonal of an "8.5 x 11" paper.
  • For each student, a ruler and a pencil.
  • Scissors.
Suggested vocabulary:

square  rectangle  triangle  draw  ruler  cut  small  large  symmetric  similar  put together  shape (noun)  (geometrical shapes as needed)


Click on the thumbnail image if you want to see a larger picture. Teachers who use a screen reader
should ignore the links to the larger images, as the screen reader will read the instructions in order.

  Tangrams are puzzles of geometrical shapes. They are easy to create, but may be difficult to put together.
The activity below is a simple suggestion-- check out the links for additional ideas.

  1. Using a ruler and a pencil, each student divides the triangle into at leat six geometrical shapes of different sizes. Too many shapes will make the activity too difficult! For best results, students should draw parallel lines.

  2. Students cut their triangles into the different shapes.

  3. In pairs, students exchange their sets of cut-out shapes.

  4. Students try to re-assemble their new triangles.

  5. Alternatively, students create "creatures" with the triangle parts, or combine two cut-out triangles to create a full "8.5 x 8.5" square.

  6. Students describe the shapes of the square to the class.

  Suggested links for additional ideas:
  • Tangrams: An Introduction
    The Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching created this very informative site filled with puzzles and links to other superb sources. Teachers will also find some very useful information on the Centre's Home Page. For material related specifically to Tangrams, go to the Centre Home Page, click on Resources 2 and then click on Tangrams.

  • Tangrams
    Randy, the author of this first-rate site, presents the history of Tangrams, explains how to make them, and provides several puzzles and links to other valuable resources.

  • Tangrams A page of tangram resources prepared by Tom Scavo. A math forum project, that emphasizes the geometry element of tangrams but can be used for general purposes as well.

  • Tangrams: Puzzle Set 1
    These puzzles are provided by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching at the University of Exeter, and they are not only for math classes. This page also has a link to Puzzle Set 2. A very fine site.

  • Build a Shape with Tangrams
    The Los Angeles County Office of Education authored these "Student Interactive Learning" activities. Students and teachers alike will find them both fun and stimulating.

  • How to Play Tangrams
    4L Learning presents four different levels of Tangram puzzles so that both newbies and experienced players can learn and have fun.

  • Celebrating Maths in the Year 2000
    Geoff Dellow has made a movie in Tangrams using Flash. He will provide worksheets to accompany this presentation in the classroom creative site that could be the basis for many creative activities in the foreign language classroom.

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