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Exploring Maths with Tangrams

October 15, 2013 · 16 Comments · Maths

The tangram is a Chinese puzzle with seven geometric pieces that fit together to make a square. No one is really certain as to who first created this puzzle but the earliest book of tangram puzzles was published in China in 1813. The seven pieces can be rearranged to create many patterns.

Our class looked closely at tangrams at the end of third term. We used a table to record our observations about creating 2D shapes with the tangram puzzle pieces. We tried to make a square, triangle and a rectangle using 1, 2, 3 or 4 puzzle pieces. For some of these challenges there was more than one way to create the shape.

We measured the edges of our puzzle pieces and compared the different measurements. From these measurements we were able to calculate the perimeter of each shape.

Last of all we created some shapes with our puzzle pieces for others to have a go at making.

Have you used tangrams? Have you tried to remake the square? How long did it take you? What advice would you give someone who had never tried using tangrams before? Please leave a comment telling us your thoughts.



  • Jess

    Hello Mr Lee,

    Tangrams are pretty interesting, but mostly fun! You should have a go with them sometime. The kids think they’re playing with them, but they’re actually learning.

    I’d love to buy heaps of tubs so that I can create a three storey house, a garden and maybe a whole village! That would be cool, except I would never be able to do that though, because it would be expensive, I have nowhere to keep it all and Mum wouldn’t allow it anyway.


  • Angus

    Hi Class
    It took me about ten minutes to make the square with four pieces but only about five seconds to make the square with one piece because there was already a tangram square.

    Do not stress that you can’t make it in five minutes just keep on going because there is usally always an answer.

    Do you like using tangrams?

    Yours sincerely

  • Jordyn

    Hello class and people visiting our blog.

    The first time I ever used tangrams was in out class.
    It feels like fun. But it’s actually maths.
    When i first used tangrams it actually didn’t take me very long. If i showed someone to use a tangram,
    I would mostly just say try to get the pieces fit in the same way and copy how your ment to do it.

    Kind Regards.


  • Emily

    Dear friends and bloggers,

    I had lots of fun studying tangrams with my class and Mrs S. My favourite part was when we got to make our own tangram puzzles. My tangram is the green house with the bush beside it (0.23s into the video).

    It is said tangrams started when a chinese lady accidently dropped a plate into seven pieces and tried to put them back together. No one knows if this is true or not, but tangram puzzles were definitely invented in China about two hundred years ago.

    The seven pieces of the tangram can be arranged in many different patterns. Some of the most common (I think) are probably a square/rectangle, a house or a person/animal.

    Thank you for reading my blog comment.

    Yours Sincerely,

  • James

    Hello fellow bloggers

    Yes I have used tangrams before. yes I tried to remake the square but I did not succeed.
    I did not finish.
    I’d say the target is to make whatever you desire.

    Sincerely James

  • Thomas

    Hey fellow bloggers!

    I thought that making my own tangram puzzle was really hard, figuring out one was easier I thought. Tangrams are really fun but also really hard at the same time. But I recommend them for someone who likes a challenge.

    Please reply,
    Kind regards Thomas ;)

  • Sam

    Hello class,

    I really enjoyed playing around with the tangrams it was fun trying to make a square using all the pieces.

    I have used tangrams in class I used is when it was raining one time.

    Making the square again is hard but once you got one peace in the right spot it was easier.
    It took me about 10 minutes to finish it.

    For those of you who have not tried playing with tangrams I advise that you have a go. It is fun playing with the shapes and making different things.

    From Sam. 

    What do you like doing with tangrams or what cool thing and have you made?

  • Rae

    Hi Class and Bloggers,

    Tangrams are easy and fun to make. I myself enjoyed making and designing them.

    I think that there are too many triangles in a set of tangrams and to less of squares.

    Kind regards

  • Sabastian

    Hello Class,

    I really enjoyed the work with the tangram pieces. It really didn’t seem like work but somehow it was helping us with maths.

    Making a square again is really hard but there is more than one way to make it again! I use them just for the fun of it sometimes. My grandfather also has tangram pieces and he gave them to me.

    To remake the square the first time it took me a fair amount of time but then I kept on going and I have found 2 ways of remaking the square.

    To people who have never tried tangrams I would advise you to have a go. They are really easy to make, they can help improve your maths and they are a whole heap of fun!

    Do you know more than one way to make a square with tangrams?

    Happy Blogging :)

    From Sabastian

  • Max.R

    Hello bloggers,
    I think that tangrams are cool! I have used tangrams heaps of times. I think that I have made a square about 3 times. It takes me about 4 miniutes to make a square. I don’t know what advice I would give someone who had never used tangrams before. What shape would you make out of tangrams?

    From Max.R :)

  • Lucy

    Hello class and fellow bloggers,
    Yes, I have used tangrams before and they are fun to make shapes with. Yes, I have tried to make the square with the tangrams and it is very hard. I still quite haven’t got it yet.

    Kind Regards Lucy

  • Django

    Hello Fellow Bloggers,

    Just saying that unfortunately I didn’t get to use the tangrams which looked like lots of fun. But also seem to be quite tricky. I may have used them in the past. My advice to people interested in tangrams is just to create.

    From Django

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Class
    I like making Tangrams.
    I enjoyed trying to work out how to make a square with the tangram pieces.
    I made the Kettle.
    Do you know what the first thing ever made with Tangrams?
    From Elizabeth

  • Mr Lee

    Wow, that is so cool! I have been a teacher in Brisbane for 28 years but I have never heard of tangrams. Maybe that is because I teach HPE and ICT instead of maths.

    Everyday I like to learn something new and today you have all allowed me to do that. I now plan to use some cardboard to cut out the shapes. I want to see if I can make some of the same things that you did such as the house, the boat, the fist and the person. Then I want to see if my friends and family can do it.

    Thanks for sharing this idea from China. I wonder what ideas from Australia might get used in China today.

    • georgie

      Hi Mr Lee,
      It is pretty interesting that you have never heard of tangrams before. Also I think it is pretty cool that you work in HPE and ICT and what is it like.
      Just wondering do you ever get sick of your job after teaching for 28 years.
      From Georgie

    • Sabastian

      Hello Class,

      I would like to say that on behalf of our class we appreciate your comment.

      Yes I agree the tangram pieces are very cool. I would really like to know who made the tangram. I would definitely reccommed to anyone to use these. They where also so fun to learn with.

      Twenty eight years WOW! That is a very very long time. What does Hpe and ICT stand for?

      Thankyou we like learning and teaching others.

      We tried to make it very difficult but I think your class will love the challange.

      Can you make a shape with tangram pieces?

      Happy Blogging :)

      From Sabastian

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