1. To understand what a tangram is.

2. To develop spatial relationships.

2. To appreciate stories related in Chinese culture.

3. To retell a story using tangram shapes.

4. To change tangrams into other shapes.

Standards Addressed:

1. Develops spatial pattern recognition.

2. Discerns the whole from its randomly scattered parts.

3. Creates, describes, and analyzes patterns to recognize relationships

and make predictions.

4. Identifies, compares, and analyzes attributes of two dimensional shapes

and develops vocabulary to describe the attributes.


computer with Internet capabilities, printer, tangram pieces, Grandfather Tang's Story

by Ann Tompert, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, (New York, Crown Publishers Inc.) 1990.

Three Pigs, One Wolf and Seven Magic Shapes by Grace Maccarone, (New York, Scholastic) 1997.


Dictionary .com may be used to define the following words:

tangram polygon tan derived plausible



1. Distribute tangram pieces. (Students can cut out their own tangrams from these directions as explained by Tom Scavo on his Tangrams Unit), or a simpler pattern may be found at Randy's Tangram Web Site and The Ross School's Thinking Fountain site.

2. Have students name and describe each shape in terms of the number of sides and angles.

3. Have students use all seven tangram pieces to form one large square. Trace the square on graph paper.


1. Read Grandfather Tang's Story and Three Pigs, One Wolf and Seven Magic Shapes

by Grace Maccarone, (New York, Scholastic) 1997. In Grandfather Tang's Story, Grandfather tells a story about shape changing fox fairies who try to best each other until a hunter brings danger to both of them. As new characters are introduced, tangram pieces are rearranged to represent the new character. In Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes is a variation of the Three Little Pigs. The pigs are given seven magic shapes and instructed to use them wisely. Each pig turns his shapes into different objects. Only one pig succeeds in using his tangrams wisely and survives.

Have students retell each story using tangrams on a flannel board or transparent tangram pieces may be used on an overhead projector to recreate the objects made by the characters in each story.
Use this
worksheet #1 to help retell the story and worksheet #2 to draw the designs made by the tangram pieces.

2. Students log onto: Enchanted Mind-Tangrams, History of Tangrams, Tangrams History and to answer these questions:

What is a tangram?

Chinese puzzle with seven pieces.
How did tangrams originate?

Tangrams is an ancient art. Tangrams were a Chinese women's game and originated before 1813. One story of the origin of tangrams relates to Tanka people, who lived along a river of China. They were great traders. Tangrams were probably introduced to the Tanka women by western sailors. he story. The word tangram may come from the obsolete English word "tramgram" meaning puzzle or trinket. In Chinese, this puzzle is called ch'i ch'iao t'u. This translates to 'ingenious-puzzle figure of seven pieces. The Chinese also called tangrams the "Seven-Board of Cunning." As trade opened up with China during the 19th century, tangram interest grew in Europe and America.

How is a tangram puzzle played? All seven pieces in a jigsaw-like puzzle are used to recreate a geometric picture or picture of an object, animal, or person Thousands of different figures can be created by repositioning the pieces. The pieces cannot overlap.


1. Students use their tangrams to solve the the puzzles on Thinking Fountain, Students keep a log, using a word processing application such as Microsoft Word or AppleWorks, and explain in words how they solved each tangram.

2. Students log onto KidsCom, Enchanted Mind, and Count On to play tangram puzzles online. Students keep a log, using a word processing application such as Microsoft Word or AppleWorks, and explain in words how they solved each tangram.

3. The tangram puzzles on Dr. Quandry (computer software) by may also be used to reinforce solving tangram puzzles.


Students will be evaluated on their ability to explain what a tangram is, how tangrams are played, recreate tangram puzzles, and explain in words how each puzzle was solved.

Related Web Sites:

Students can play tangram puzzles using the applets on these sites.,1033,NAV3-15_SAP50,00.html

This study of China is from the Dodge Elementary School in Grand Island, Nebraska.

This is a condensed version of Grandfather Tang's story with pictures, presented by Dodge School Elementary, Grand Island, NE.


This is a lesson plan using math/literature plays.

Related Book:

Tangram, (Novar Cottage, Dryden, Ontario) 1996

Follow Up:

In Lesson 2, students create their own tangram objects and write an original story to go with their object.


Table of Contents

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5 Sample Tangram Story

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