Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tangramables Tuesday

In order to be most successful teaching children about tangrams, I think parents will be looking for a resource that's geared more towards teachers... hopefully this will do the trick.

Martschinke, Judi.
Learning Resources.
Review copy obtained from personal teaching resource collection.

Geared specifically towards parents and teachers, Tangramables, is a resource divided into three main sections: cover up, imagination, and shapes from shapes. The way that the sections are broken down allow for the use of this book with children in Kindergarten through eighth grade.

Cover Up (intended for Kindergarten through 1st grade, usable at all grade levels)
This section of the book involves placing tangram pieces on top of the outlined tangram pieces. Students need to slide, turn and flip the pieces (transformational geometry concepts) in order to place them correctly. The first few pages involve using only one piece at a time. The pages that follow start combining shapes until, eventually, all seven pieces are used at the same time.

Young children need only to cover the shapes drawn in the bookt o complete the task. As students get older they should be bale to answer such questions as

How many pieces are used?
How many triangles are used?
How many different size triangles are used?
Which pieces have sides the same length?
Can I fit the piece on top of the drawing if I turn it a half turn?
a quarter turn?
Can I fit the piece on top of the drawing if I flip it?
Imagination (intended for grades 2-4, usuable at all grade levels)
This section of the book involves combining tangram pieces in such a way that the student's imagination makes the completed work look like something familiar to the student. Drawings of objects or animals are on the pages to help the child use his/her imagination when visualizing the completed work. The outline of an object or animal made by tangram pieces is shown on the page. The child is to cover the area inside the outline with tangram pieces and for the object or animal specified. The outlines of the tangram pieces are shwon on the first few pages only. After that the child must use what he/she knows about the pieces (length of sides, size of angles, etc.) and the ways they can be manipulated (slides, turns, flips) to fill in the outline of the object or animal.

Children can use balnk paper to lay the tangram pieces on, rather than the Tangramables book. Then they can trace their work for handing in or for displaying. If desired, details can be drawn into the "tangrammable" drawing and backgorund artwork can be added.

After using their imagination and experiencing ways to combine tangram pieces in completing "tangrammable" objects, students can make their own "tangrammable" sheets for classmates to try.
Shapes from Shapes (targeted toward grades 3-5 but usable at all grade levels)
This section involves making geometric shapes from tangram pieces. Students are asked to use specific pieces or a specific number of pieces to cover the inside of a geometric shape outlined on the page. By doing this students will experience ways various shapes are formed. Relationships of sides, angles and areas will be experienced when completing the pages. Although students are not asked what they are doing or why, manipulating the pieces will help them understand concepts of length, angle measure, perimeter and area. When the teacher feels students need to measure lengths, measure angles, calculate perimeter, or calculate area, various pages int his section can be completed on blank paper, traced and measured.
As I'm sure you notice from the author's description of each of the three sections covered in this book, the use of tangrams by children varies greatly by age. For the youngest of children, the main purpose is to introduce children to various shapes and the ways in which shapes can combine to create "things." As children grow older, they benefit from use of tangrams to learn geometric principles. Hopefully you'll find this a resourceful tool when teaching your child(ren) about tangrams as part of a math curriculum.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Affiliate, so any purchases you make after clicking these images will result in my receiving a small percentage of the sale price!