Tangrams are simple Chinese puzzles consisting of seven pieces that fit inside a larger square outline. Here you will find a printable tangram template, DIY tangram instructions, and printable silhouette puzzles to solve!
Why are tangrams awesome? They roll geometry, spatial awareness, problem solving and creativity all into one while seeming like plain old fun!
Tangram puzzles are not new. In fact they have been around for centuries and are one of the most popular dissection puzzles in the world.
The objective is to use all seven pieces, or “tans,” of the puzzle to create new shapes, with no overlapping. While the pieces can be played with creatively, traditionally they are used as a puzzle; trying to make the shapes fit within a specific outline.
Check out the children’s book Grandfather Tang’s Story. This children’s book uses “tans” to tell the story. It shares a bit of the history of tangrams and a lot of the magic of this special family of shapes.
Wanna’ make it yourself…..
Every tangram puzzle contains the following shapes; two large right triangles, one medium right triangle, two small right triangles, one square, and one parallelogram. All seven of these shapes come together to fill a larger square in its entirety.
A better mathematician than me could probably freehand these shapes to fit inside of a square, easy peasy.
An easy way to break these shapes down is to divide up a square of any size into a 4 x 4 grid. The light grey lines in the diagram above illustrate this. The black lines in the diagram are the tangram lines that would be cut to separate your shapes.
Now that you know how the shapes break down you can translate this grid onto the material of your choosing. Think outside of the “paper’ box. Wood, plexiglass, and foam would all make excellent lasting tangram shapes!
The “easier” way…
If you’re working with younger kids or maybe a larger group of kids graphing all of those lines is gonna’ be tricky. Below I’ve given you a free printable tangram template. Just print this out on 8x 11 paper and you’re ready to go!
Want the free printable tangram template….
To grab this free printable just use the turquoise subscribe box below to sign up for my weekly newsletter. This will get you a subscriber only password to my Resource Library. This printable as well as dozens of others are housed there in PDF form for your easy printing! (FYI- all my resources are free! Woot woot!)
If you print on copy weight paper now is a good time to glue your template to something a bit heavier. I used a cereal box. Because I’m an art teacher with supply hoarding tendencies I have an excess of empty cereal boxes. Let’s call it upcycling, shall we? Cereal boxes make for some good art.
Glue your entire template to your cardboard then cut shapes out. Trust me.
Make it your own…
Just because the shapes of a tangram puzzle are super specific doesn’t mean that they can’t be decorated and made unique. We used washi tape. Not only is it pretty and sparkly but it also serves to reinforce the edges and make the pieces last longer.
Imagine tangram pieces embellished by glitter, paint, natural materials, decoupage. There are endless possibilities.
Solving the tangram puzzle…
The traditional way to play with tangrams is to attempt to use all seven pieces, with no overlapping, to fill a given outline. Common themes are animals, numbers, and letters.
The printable below provides four printable outlines that can be solved using the tangram template above.
Want to grab this free printable puzzle pack….
To grab these free printables just use the turquoise subscribe box below to sign up for my weekly newsletter. This will get you a subscriber only password to my Resource Library. This printable as well as dozens of others are housed there in PDF form for your easy printing! (FYI- all my resources are free! Woot woot!)