A tangram literally means “7 boards of skill” and goes way back to China a long, long, long time ago. Tangrams feed your brain concepts like fractions, geometry, spatial reasoning, symmetry… all while employing problem solving, fine motor, and patience with a side of art. And, most kids and adults have fun with them.
When I was assigned to write a “tiered lesson plan” for a Differentiated Learning class recently, I knew Tangrams would be a fun topic to build a lesson plan my children (2nd, 1st, PreK) and future students will enjoy. In the process, I have a really cool new (to me) tool for my teacher brain that I’m thrilled to share with you! If you want to see what a formal differentiated lesson plan looks like Click Here! (Hug your teachers, they study and work hard! )
Here we go! Let’s rock this tangram party. Drumroll please…I introduce you to (or maybe you’ve been doing these for years while I was in la-la land)…a spin on a classic…for the classroom or at home…
The Tic-Tac-Toe Learning Board! My teacher brain spins with possibilities and my gorgeous husband’s to do list just grew. And by the way, my 2nd grade daughter came home with a tic tac toe assignment today from school;)
I designed this specific tic tac toe board around TANGRAMS! The cool thing is you can use this strategy a 100+ ways. We all love choices, so building a lesson around choices does this magic thing to children called buy-in and revs up the excitement level of learning. The very act of choosing and organizing their projects is learning in itself, not to mention it’s in a game format which adds a twist of self-motivation. Brainstorm with me for a minute: chore charts, lunch/snacks menus, home learning, bible verses, new vocabulary words, to do lists, idea board for when kids are “bored”…
Back to the lesson…before they saw the Tic Tac Toe Tangram Board, I introduced this lesson with my kids by reading Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert.
Sweet Grandfather Tang tells his granddaughter a story as he builds pictures to match using tangrams. My 14 page packet is available in my Teacher’s Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers store for $4.99. Click the picture above or the store icons on my homepage sidebar.
I mounted mine on construction paper, laminated, and will keep these with a copy of the book. Also, for higher level thinking, I printed a second copy and colored them in with a sharpie. I glued it on the back so the student has the choice of building with help, or without.
Two things should be noted. First, my daughters didn’t build on the cards. Didn’t expect that. And 2nd, my son didn’t want to play. Bummer. He did listen to the story. I’ll try again during daylight hours. But, the girls loved it! After the story I gave them each a Tic-Tac-Toe Tangram and explained their choices to pick 3 to do over the next week or so, but could do more if they wanted;) We had 2 sets of colored, plastic tangrams that fit the puzzle, which you see in the pictures.
Here’s a closer walk through the Tic Tac Toe Tangram Choices:
Technology Tangrams: Tan Zen App Lite (in the picture above) and ABCya Tangrams is free and fun!
Tangram Sensory: Sandgrams! (I used brown sugar)
All this tangraming has made me hungry…Have a Tangram Snack!
Create a Game using Floor Tangrams: Ava’s game was called “Dance and Build”. She asked me to crank up some music. We took turns dancing while a person made a new design. I may have changed the words to some 90s hip hop songs to include the word Tangrams. You’ll never know.
Ava used her Tangrams to write her story. She came up with a “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” format. If they each make a story, I will “publish” all three kids’ stories into one digital book using Mixbook and sticking it in our special “Written by Us” book box. If not, we’ll make a mini-book from CVS. Here’s a Mixbook I made with Dawson’s USA obsession.
With the ANYgrams activity, Maya decided to divide a heart shape into pieces and she built 3 puzzles for us to solve. This really stretched her brain…and mine!
Happy Tangraming! –Shelisa