Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Did you ever make tangram structures when you were younger? Believe it or not, this is actually a mathematic- and geometry-based game! Tangrams are made up of seven shapes that form a square: 2 large triangles, 1 medium triangle, 2 small triangles, a square, and a parallelogram. Did you know that every piece has a specific number of small triangles in it? The square, parallelogram, and medium triangle all have 2 small triangles in their shape. The two large triangles consist of 4 small triangles.

You can make your own tangram pieces with a piece of printer paper and some scissors!

  • Start with a square! If you don't have one, you can easily make a square from a rectangle! Fold a shorter side to meet one of the longer sides. Cut off the excess strip of paper. You now have a square!

  • Make two triangles! If you made a square from a rectangle, you've already got a diagonal from your first step, so now you're going to cut along that fold!

  • Make three triangles! Fold both triangles in half but only cut along one fold line. Set the cut triangles aside - these are your two large triangles.

  • Take the other uncut triangle and fold the point to the middle of the long side. Cut along your new diagonal line. This is your third piece, the medium triangle. Set it aside!

  • Now you've got a trapezoid in front of you with a crease down the middle. Cut the middle crease. You've got two right-angle trapezoids.

  • On the first one, take corner 1 and fold it over to corner 2. Cut the crease to make piece four, the small triangle, and piece five, the square.

  • Now let's go to the other trapezoid! Fold corner 3 up to corner 4. This will give you the last two pieces: six, the other small triangle, and seven, the parallelogram.

  • You now have all 7 tangram pieces you'll need for the next part of the challenge, all from a single piece of paper!

My challenge for you is to see if you can use all 7 tangram pieces to create the following shapes:

  • Helicopter

  • Apple

  • Music note

  • Swan

  • Candle

  • Ninja Star (or Pinwheel)

  • Microscope

Try coming up with your own shapes or designs too! Challenge other makers in the comments or share your creations! Can you make a seasonal design like a bat?

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