Friday, July 6, 2012

Tangrams Simplified

I really like tangram stories. Unfortunately, I am not very good at tangrams. Years ago I told "Why the Sun & the Moon Live in the Sky" from Valerie Marsh's Story Puzzles: Tales in the Tangram Tradition. I've been wanting to try another and finally decided to take the plunge. I am planning to tell "The Milky Way" from the same book at Family Story Time next week.  This time I decided to make it easier for myself.

Instead of making a single set of tangram figures, I counted how many times each piece is used in the story and made multiple pieces so each figure would have its own set of shapes. I took some scrap paper and made envelopes for the pieces by taping up the sides. There are 11 figures made in the story so I made 11 envelopes which I then numbered 1 to 11. I also photocopied the story and cut out each figure and pasted it to the corresponding envelope. I will take the pieces out of the envelopes when I set up for the program and make the figures on top of each envelope so they will be ready to be transferred to the magnet board. This will not work for a couple of the larger figures but I should be able to have most of the pieces together. As I take the figures off the board I will quickly put them in a box or bowl (I want to avoid having those pieces getting mixed up with the ones that haven't been used yet) and then add the new ones to the board.  This method may sound complicated but it eliminates the difficult part for me - quickly figuring out the correct placement of the shapes. (Quickly is the operative word here.) This will allow me to concentrate on telling the story without worrying about how to make the figures.

Tangram Shapes with "envelopes."
I made the pieces out of purple card stock. Black is traditional but I wanted color.

Because I enjoy telling stories in different ways, I'm always thinking of ways to do so. I hope the plan works next week because then I'll have another storytelling method to use.

This week's Flannel Friday Roundup is hosted by Mary of Miss Mary Liberry. Visit the Flannel Friday site for complete information.


  1. Very creative idea! I use tangrams when I do a couple of my American Girl programs. It is fun to teach the participants how to use them for math and for storytelling ~ plus it is very inexpensive to provide each girl with a tangram set to take home. :o)

    I'll have to try this method next time. Hope it makes telling the story easier for you.
    ~ K ~

  2. Last year, I used _Grandfather Tang's Story_ for the one of the "One World Many Stories" theme storytimes. It has the tangrams as part of the illustrations, and I spent quite a while memorizing how to do them quickly!

  3. I have used tangrams on an overhead projector to tell a story. You can move the pieces during telling or glue the pieces onto a transparency for each scene ... works wonderfully for Grandfather Tang. After the storytime I let the children move the pieces to match the forms.