Lynn Ann Wiscount, Vince Mariner, Erin Halovanic
Mathematics, Geometry
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Primary, Upper Primary
3, 4
Geometry, Mathematics, POWER Library, Powerlibrary, Tangrams
Creative Commons Attribution
Media Formats:

Education Standards (23)

Tangram Fun

Tangram Fun


Students learn about the history of tangrams.  They will learn about each piece in the tangram puzzle and analyze the shapes to complete geometric puzzles and mathematics problems.

    Lesson Objectives

    Students will be able to:

    • Explain the history of the tangram.
    • Create their own set of tangram pieces.
    • Identify the shapes and measurements of the tangram pieces.
    • Complete various mathematical problems using the tangram pieces.
    • Construct various shapes using the tangram pieces.
    • Use critical thinking to create various animals, shapes, and letters using the tangram pieces.

    Warm Up / Introduction

    Instructors Notes:

    The tangram is believed to have been invented in China thousands of years ago.  There are several myths and stories about how they were created.  Student's will watch A Sage's Journey to learn about one of those myths/stories.  As they watch the video, have the students record the items that are created using the tangram puzzle pieces.

    Attached is another video called Grandfather Tang's Story which can also be used.  This video was created by the ower to introduce the concept to middle school students.

    Additional Resources:

    This activity can also be linked to English Language Arts by using additional books you may already have in your library. 



    The tangram is believed to have been invented in China thousands of years ago.  There are several myths and stories about how they were created.  

    Activity Directions:

    • Watch the video assigned by your instructor of one of the myths / stories about tangrams.
    • As you watch the story, write down the animals / shapes they were able to create uning the tangram puzzle pieces.


    Research / Explore Activity

    Instructors Notes:

    Students will use POWER Library resources to investigate additional information on what tangrams puzzles are, how they are created, and what types of things can be built with them.  They will then use this knowledge to draw their own game pieces and provide instructions on how someone can create their own.  They will also use the game pieces to anwer some mathematical questions.

    You may want to include a vocabulary lesson for the students so they can learn all the terms if they do not already know them.

    Resources in POWER Library that can be used for this activity includes:

    • Power Library E-Books (EBSCO) 
      • Geometry and Trigonometry ebook 
      • Geometry: Tutorial and Practical Problems 
      • Master Math: Trigonometry Including Everything From Trigonometric Functions, Equations, Triangle, and Graphs to Identities, Coordinate Systems, and Complex Numbers
    • Power Library Elementary (Gale In Context Elementary School)
    • Power Library High School (Gale OneFile High School Edition)
    • Power Library Middle School (Gale In Context Middle School)
    • Power Library Gale E-Books 
      • Real-Life Math
    • Power Library Science Reference Center

    Assessment: As an assessment, have the students show you their parallelogram, square, and shapes made from two (2) congruent shapes so you know they can create them.

    Extended Activity: Using the photographs in AP Newsroom and the other POWER Library resources, have the students locate photographs that include the tangram shapes (triangles, squares, etc.). They should be able to describe what shape they located and where they discovered it.

    Websites that provide an online tangram game:

    Activity Directions:

    • Research, using the resources provided, additional information on the history of the tangram, how they are made, and what type of games and items can be built with them.
    • On completion of your research, use the Tangram Graphing Chart Worksheet to create your own set of tangram pieces; write instructions you would provide to someone to make their own set of accurate tangram pieces.
    • If your instructor has not provided tangram sets, cut out your own set of the game pieces by using the Tangram Game Pieces in Color Worksheet or Tangram Game Pieces in Black and White Worksheet.
    • Using the tangram game pieces, answer the following questions:
      • How many game pieces do you have?
      • What is the geometric name for each tangram shape?
      • Are there any duplicate pieces? If so, what are they?
      • Using a blank sheet of paper. trace the 5 unique tangram shapes.
        • Once the items are traced, flip them over.  Does the piece still fit into the traced outline? How many do? How many do not?
        • How long is each side of the pieces? Write the number next to the line on your traced shaped.
        • Find the area of each shape and record it inside each shape.
        • What are the measurement of angles of each slope? (do not use a protractor to find this).
      • Illustrate and explain how you would obtain measurements of all tangram pieces.
      • Are there any tangram shapes in your classroom? If so, explain where and what one.
      • Can you use all 7 pieces to create a parallelogram?
      • Can you use all 7 pieces to make a square?
      • Can you use 2 shapes that are congruent to make another shape?
      • Now let us see how many geometric figures you can make using the tangram pieces from one set.  Record your findings on the Creating Tangrams Worksheet.


    Reinforcement / Creation Activity

    Instructors Notes:

    Students will use their tangram pieces to try to complete shapes and figures using the attached worksheets.  They will then be taxed with creating and naming their own creations using the 7 pieces of the tangram puzzle.

    Answers to the shapes worksheet are also included as a handout.

    Resources in POWER Library that can be used for this activity includes:

    Assessment: An assessment can be completed based on the students ability to to create an original tangram figure.

    Activity Directions:

    • Using the Shapes Worksheet and the Figures from Amusement in Mathematics Worksheet,  see if you can recreate the shapes with your tangram pieces? Circle the ones that you have completed.
    • Did you find any additional shapes in your research?  If yes, what are they? Can you create them?
    • You are now the artist. Using all 7 tangram pieces, what interesting shapes / figures can you make? Sketch your creations and give them a name so you can share them with your peers.



    Instructor Reflection:

    Reflect on the lesson plan and document what worked for you, what did not work for you, and what you would change for the next time you use this lesson.


    • Now that you know about geometric shapes and how they can be used to create other shapes and figures, reflect on how you think these skills will help you in real world scenarios.