Tangrams and Fractions

Elementary Lessons & Materials || Contents

An Explorer lesson plan. Download a Claris Works or Acrobat file from the Explorer site. Also information on grades, availability, description, curriculum, process skills, author, and publisher.

Author: Joanne Caniglia

Grade Level: 5-6

Description: This activity incorporates both tangrams and fractions. The Tangram puzzle was invented by the ancient Chinese hundreds of years ago. It is a square broken into seven pieces. When rearranged, these pieces form a great variety of shapes and pictures. This puzzle provides an excellent background for determining fractional parts and wholes.

Objectives: To determine the fractional part of each Tangram piece given information about one of the other seven pieces.

Resources/Materials: A set of Tangrams on card stock


  1. Ask students to create a square unit from all seven pieces.

  2. Choosing each piece of the Tangram set, ask students which part of the whole square it is.
      Large right triangles: 1/4
      Square: 1/8
      Small right triangles: 1/16 each
      Medium Right Triangle: 1/8
      Parallelogram: 1/8

  3. Changing the unit whole is an interesting activity. For example, if a large right triangle is held chosen and announced that this is now 1 unit in area, ask how the other pieces correspond.
      Square: 1/2
      Small Right Triangle: 1/4 (each)
      Parallelogram: 1/2
      Medium Right Triangle: 1/2

Evaluation: Students will identify the fractional part of each Tangram piece. They will also be able to add fractions with unlike denominators and create equations using their Tangram pieces.

Follow-up Activities: An extension to these activities is to allow students to create shapes with a particular unit value. For example, ask students to make a picture having the area of 5/8. Which pieces will be able to be used?

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Home || The Math Library || Quick Reference || Search || Help 

© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.