A Math Forum Web Unit

Tom Scavo's


Tom's Math Lessons
Tangrams are a puzzle that help develop spatial-visualization skills, but they may also be used to introduce or reinforce geometrical concepts such as congruency, similarity, symmetry, and so forth. This unit for grades 4 through 6 uses tangrams to compute the area of polygons  without formulas. In the process of doing so, the terms congruent  and similar  are introduced.


  • The Math Forum graciously provided the environment and resources that made this project possible. Sarah Seastone was especially helpful.

  • Thanks to Suzanne Alejandre for a critical reading of the paper version of these lessons, valuable suggestions, and numerous pointers into the online literature.

  • The lesson Constructing Your Own Set of Tangrams is modeled after the article "How to make the 7 pieces of a Tangram" by Karen Tobler.

  • My son, Brian Scavo, produced a seemingly endless flow of geometric constructions using tangrams, some of which will be seen on these pages. Now if only I had time to convert more of Brian's cool drawings into computer images!

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Tom Scavo
7 August 1996