Tangrams are a fun and great way to start any unit on Geometry or add to your geometry unit. They have lots of the basic plane 2D shapes that kids need to know the names of. They are also simple and easy to cut out from a square pattern of paper. Every year I start the first day of school with a tangram on each desk.  It gives kids something to do while we are organizing. If you give each child a different color there are lots of designs they can make such as some of these. 

Tangram Activities for the first week of school

Another activity for tangrams is just trying to make a square out of them after you cut them out and mix them up. I would use Ellison Die Cuts and do sets of different colors of tangrams. Then pass out black paper. Kids can do their own ANIMAL designs and glue them down. They look really striking glued to black paper but you could do it in on any color really,  for a great looking bulletin board. A pattern for a printable, cut out, tangram is at Creative Imaginations.net.

This bulletin board is from teaching photos.com. The kids swapped pieces with each other
so that their shape art project was more colorful.

Here are two fun books that introduce tangrams in fun ways. You could use the Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes if you are in a younger grade. It is a funny book kids love.  Grandfather Tang’s Story is another great book to read to introduce tangrams, especially if you are upper grades. There are lots of online activities to go with it too. 

These are both very cute stories to introduce Tangrams to kids. This would be a fun enrichment day for math or a theme day if you have an extra bunch of time at the end of another unit. I love when that happens although it is rare, isn’t it?  Or else use it as one of the things you do the day before a big holiday break when kids are antsy anyway. 
Here are some 3D tangram designs  in an airport in Korea. Cool designs! 

Having a rubric designed by the class, organize and write a simple fairy tale using a pig or a duck or a wolf as the main character. (LIKE THE STORY! Yeah, I am razer sharp!)  Have a narrator, and a lesson learned in the end as you go through setting, problem and solution. Develop the character and have a sidekick that helps him over his problem.

You could use cereal boxes and make little puppet theaters if you really want to go all out. Check out my blogpost on when we did this. It was probably the kids’ favorite activity of the year besides Halloween and Valentines Parties. 😀 Check it out HERE.

Kids can really do fun things if you give them a few ideas how to start. I usually do a brainstorm on the board of all kinds of possible problems a pig or wolf could get into. Then I’d write a list of fun settings. Then write out 4 ways to start the fairy tale besides “Once upon a time….” Kids need a way to jump start, and then they are on their way. Go through the writing process of brainstorm, sloppy copy, edit, final copy, illustration, share.

tangram bird bb

Tangrams: You could read a bird book like “Ugly Duckling” or “Grandfather Tang’s Journey” and have kids do bird shapes with tangrams. Some of these look like birds…. snicker….and some don’t. 😀   Check them out at Focus on Math. They have lots of great art ideas

On the back of art pages I usually find a poem to go with the concept we are learning. Most of my kids know the flat plane shapes as they are a gifted group. But if you are teaching beginning first grade  you could choose from one of these or several on a page. Sing the songs and then glue on the poems.   Check it out HERE from Reading Lady. It is a good “shared reading” activity to integrate reading and math. yes siree!

HERE at creativeimaginations.net is a printable pattern to make your tangrams.

My students LOVE magnetic tangrams. I have 2 filing cabinets pushed against each other back to back so it makes a great big magnetic center. Here is a picture of it with kids using it for an activity using parts of a plant. But tangrams and pattern blocks are some of their favorite magnet activities.


 A fun activity another teacher did is write diamante poems after her students made tangrams animals. Check it out HERE at Mixbook.com. A DIAMANTE poem has 7 lines in a pattern. The first and last lines of the poem being one synonymous, but different word.  Check out a weebly with lots of examples on Mrs. Warner’s website.  It also has a few videos on many types of poetry. 

Here is one I did to show my class how it is done. Check the post out
HERE. Mrs. Warner’s weebly website has lots of poetry examples, check it out HERE.

A set of tangrams includes: 2 large triangles, a medium triangle, 2 small triangles, a square and a parallelogram. You can give each student 2 sets in their choice of color to make some groovy design or just the 7 shapes. It looks like some kids made a rocket. 😀  A printable tangram download is HERE at Activity Village.

A bunch of free printables for geometrical shapes can be found HERE at Helping With Math. Another good worksheet with questions and activities is at Math.about.com.
justfordaisy: Making A Geoboard Busy Bag with Activity Card Printable

Another fun activity is geoboards. They are great for manipulative play with the plane shapes. Kids love to do them and the math conversations are pretty great. Just watch out for rubber bands flying across the room!

Another activity I do a lot are Exemplars (projects for math). This one is on Grandfather Tang’s Story. It might be appropriate for your classroom too. Kids love projects like this where they have to figure out and solve problems. Here it is a Birdville K12 for Exemplars.

This might be a good thing to do first day of school. I know my kids love exploring tangrams