The Math Forum

by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

What are the educational benefits for using tangrams?

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I have a few questions. What are the educational benefits for using tangrams? What grade levels/ages use them the most? Are tangrams used nationwide in public schools?


Using tangrams gives students an opportunity to use a manipulative set to construct understanding of geometric ideas. Using tangrams can help students develop spatial skills. They can move the pieces around to note the relationships, and learn about flips, slides and turns (reflections, rotations, and translations). They create vivid images for students who are visually oriented, too. Some educators believe they engage both sides of the brain.

Besides moving the pieces around, they can be combined to create other shapes. This can be the beginning of an exploration of area and perimeter. Congruency, similarity, and symmetry can also be explored. Similarly, giving students opportunites to use and talk about several different geometric shapes can help students become more intuitive about geometry.

Using tangrams can be a multicultural experience for students. There are several language arts activities centered around tangrams, so there is also an interdiciplinary connection.

I am guessing that these are used mainly with elementary grades, and even then, with Kindergarten through Grade 2, primarily. That is a shame though, since there are applications for older students as well.

I think tangrams are easy to make, inexpensive to purchase, and very versatile, so I would say they are probably used all over this country. I would not be surprised to learn we are not the only country to use them, either.

Hope this is what you were looking for.

-Gail, for the T2T service

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