Tangram Fun

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SWBAT use tangram blocks to create composite shapes. SWBAT work in teams and communicate their thinking with each other.

Big Idea

Students will work in teams and use tangrams to cover outliners of shapes. This 1st and 2nd grade lesson will combine students from each grade and ask them to work together as a team to solve these complex tasks.

A Note to the Reader

I taught this lesson on the last instructional day of our school year.  This year, I taught a combined 1st and 2nd grade classroom, but, for math, grades broke up so that I only taught 1st grade math.  However, today we didn't break up our students, and I kept my whole combined class.  This lesson is designed to meet both 1st and 2nd grade CCSS for geometry. If you teach 1st grade only, you may want to teach it towards the end of the year, and, if you teach 2nd grade, it would be a great early lesson.

This lesson does not follow the typical format of my regular lessons, and the majority of the lesson focuses on teamwork and exploration with the concept. It's a nice change of pace and allows students to really engage with MP3.

Introducing Tangrams

10 minutes

Advanced Preparation:  You will need a set of tangrams for each student in your classroom.   

I gather the students onto the carpet.  

"I want to introduce you to a new math tool today.  It is a set of blocks called Tangrams.  Each tangram block consists of 2 large triangles, 1 medium triangle, 2 small triangles, a square, and a parallelogram.  Although the sets are different colors, they are all the same and have the same pieces."

I have included a video, Introducing tangrams, that captures the introduction conversation.

"Let's take a look at each shape and quickly review the defining characteristics if each shape (a triangle has three sides and three points, all the sides meet at their ends, etc.).  Let's take a look at the parallelogram.  What do you notice about this shape?" 

Note:  This may be new for some students - especially first graders -, so make sure to spend a little time with this one.  I want students to use the correct terms (names) as they work and talk to each other about the shapes.  It is important that they learn and use appropriate mathematical vocabulary from the start (MP6).

In this instance the students are being introduced to a new tool, discussing the components of it, and then using the tangrams in an appropriate way (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5).

Working on Tangram Puzzles

45 minutes

Advanced Preparation:  You will need to make enough copies of Tangram sheets for each student in your class.  

"You are now going to work in teams of two.  Each team will have a 1st and 2nd grade student.  Your job will be to use your shapes to cover each image (on each page).  Some of the images will not use all of the shapes (the first few pages).  However, the animal designs will use all of the pieces."

"You can help each other and talk to each other but you can't touch each other's shapes.  You need to use your words to tell your partner how to place a shape and/or turn a shape.  Remember to use the shape names when you are talking to your partner."

"As you finish each page, I want you to call me over so that I can check your work.  I will mark the page and then you can move onto the next page."

I have included to videos (Example 1 & Example 2) of students working for youth get an idea of what this activity looks like in action.  

In this activity the students are creating new shapes from a composite snap by using the tangram shapes to create a unified image.  Students are also describing shapes by defining attributes such as sides, angles, etc. (CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.G.A.1CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.2.G.A.1).