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Tangram Puzzles to Make

Tangram puzzle to make - runner
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What you will make:

In this project, you'll make a tangram puzzle using printable patterns with puzzles in two sizes. The tangram is a puzzle game that originated in China during the 1800s. It rapidly spread to the United States and Europe, and became very popular with both children and adults. Each tangram puzzle has seven pieces, also called tans, cut from one large square—two large triangles, one medium-sized triangle, two small triangles, one square, and one parallelogram. It is a puzzle that requires imagination and creativity.

At the end of this project page, there are puzzle sheets with several shapes that you are challenged to duplicate, along with solutions to the puzzles. There are also rules for playing with the tangram puzzle and links to sites with more tangram puzzle fun, photos and information.

Here's what you need to make a tangram puzzle:
  • Computer paper or cardstock
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Optional: Felt, label stock, craft knife and ruler

This project is rated VERY EASY to do.

How to Make Tangram Puzzles

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Choose a Pattern and Print It

Choose the tangram puzzle size that you want to make—large: 7.75" (19.6cm) or small: 3.875" (9.8cm). Download and print the tangram puzzle pattern. It is best to print on cardstock. If you don't have any cardstock, print on paper. Print the colored patterns on white cardstock or paper, and print black and white patterns on colored cardstock or paper—or you can print on white paper and color the puzzle as you like.

The wood grain puzzles look particularly nice when printed on glossy photo paper. Glue the photo paper to cardstock, or apply adhesive felt to the back. This is sure to be a favorite set.

Four Tangrams
Printable pattern for tangram puzzles
Large Tangram
Printable pattern for a tangram puzzle
Wood Grain
Printable pattern for a tangram puzzle in woodgrain
Chinese Design
Printable pattern for tangram puzzles with Chinese designs

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

Step 2: Stiffen Paper (optional) Glue puzzle to cardboard

If you printed a pattern on paper, it will need to be stiffened. Do a rough cut of the tangram puzzle and glue it to a piece of cardboard a little bigger than the puzzle. Cereal box cardboard works well.

Be sure that the glue completely covers the back of the tangram puzzle. Also make sure that there are no loose corners or sides. To make a very nice puzzle, glue another piece of colored paper to the back of the cardboard.

Tip: For puzzles printed on cardstock, make a sturdier puzzle by gluing the printed pattern to another piece of cardstock.

Step 3: Cut
Cut the tangram on the black lines to create seven pieces

Cut the tangram puzzle into seven pieces on the solid black lines. Try to make your cuts very straight. The tangram puzzle will work better and be more fun with straight edges.

It is easier to make straight cuts with a craft knife and ruler. Protect your work surface with thick cardboard or a cutting mat. Place the ruler along the line to be cut, then carefully draw the craft knife along the ruler's edge. Be sure to keep your fingertips away from the knife. Kids require adult supervision when using a craft knife!

Playing with the Tangram Puzzle

There are two ways to play with tangrams. One way is to try to duplicate shapes from a simple outline of the shape. Another way uses your imagination and sense of fun to create new designs. The most common designs are silhouettes of animals, people, and objects.

A mathematician has calculated that there are at least 1600 designs that can be made with the seven tangram pieces/tans. Use more than one puzzle set, and the possibilities grow even larger. How many designs can you create?

When playing with tangrams, keep these simple rules in mind:

  • All seven tans are used in each picture (except where noted).
  • All tans remain flat, none standing.
  • Each tan may touch another, but none may overlap

Now get started playing with your tangram puzzle!

Print a puzzle sheet, and try to create the shapes with your tangram puzzle pieces. The small tangram puzzle is sized to fit the shapes on the Square and Geometric Shapes puzzle sheets. A printable tangram solution sheet is available if you need it.

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Wood grain tangram set - sailboat

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Tip: Printing a puzzle pattern on cardstock and then gluing the puzzle onto another sheet of cardstock makes a sturdier tangram set.

Four tangram sets with Chinese designs

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Tip: Make a beautiful and durable tangram puzzle to give as a gift. Print the Chinese Design pattern on high quality paper and glue to mat board prior to cutting.

Green tangram set

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Tip: A quick and easy way to make the tangram puzzle is to print the pattern on label stock and apply it to cardboard. There's no need for glue, but watch out for air bubbles under the label.

Tangram puzzle with felt backing for flannel board

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Tip: Make a tangram set for a flannel board. Apply adhesive back felt to the tangram puzzle before cutting out the tans.

Tangram bear made of puzzle pieces from two tangram sets

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Tip: Mix tans from two or more tangram sets to make puzzles. You can make cute pictures for a child's bedroom by gluing the tans in place on a mat and framing.

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