Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Math from China

Following our study of the Tang Dynasty, I thought it would be fun to extend our learning of China into this month's 'hands-on math' session by using the tangrams.  The 7-shaped puzzle is such a deceptively simple-looking tool to introduce many interesting mathematical concepts to children -- from the simplest identification of shapes to the more complex angles and rotation.

Tiger has played with the tangrams before in his preschool days in an exploratory way.  This time round we are using the tool in a more structured way.

First we made the tangrams ourselves, following the folding and cutting instructions here.  Although we have a set of wooden tangrams, making our own paper version of it gives Tiger a chance to practise his fine motor skills through folding and cutting.  More importantly, the exercise requires him to read the instructions and follow the steps carefully in order to get the correct shapes.

With the 7 shapes cut out, Tiger did some classification and grouping of the shapes, followed by learning the names of the specific shapes such as congruent triangles and parallelogram, which are new terms to him.

This was followed by some free exploration to find out for himself what the shapes can do, and how to combine shapes together to make another shape.

More learning for Tiger came about through trying to make the animals shapes shown here.  Tiger found the first few shapes to be challenging until he realised that (1) he had to turn some of the shapes in different directions, and (2) he had to look carefully at how the sides line up to determine whether he was using the correct sized triangles and whether he was lining the correct sides together.


Once Tiger had figured out the trick to making the shapes, he made the rest of the shapes very quickly.

Solving the animal puzzles gave him ideas to making his own pictures:

A dancing man
a sitting rabbit
A sitting man

A dog

Dog - version 2

Dog - version 3

A running man
It has been interesting for Tiger to see countless possibilities of forming different pictures using just 7 shapes.

This post is linked up to several blog hops, where you can visit to see what other homeschoolers have been busy with.


  1. Wonderfully fun, educational idea! Love it! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Merry Christmas,
    Beth =-)

  2. How fun! I love hands-on math! I'm getting ready to introduce Tangrams to my preschoolers for some free play and exploration.


  3. Oh my goodness.. haven't done tangrams in a while... what an excellent fine motor skill!


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