We've been studying some geometry lately. My math child is never content to do anything just like the books says, and when he saw his Saxon book had an activity sheet with geometric shapes he was running upstairs to get the tangram set from its dusty spot on the bookshelf. (We haven't used them since last year at this time!)
What followed was more than an hour of working through the cards in this set. He methodically went through each one, until he had completed every single card.
While my daughter was laboring over a Saxon 7/6 math test she was watching him out of the corner of her eye. Rather than play with the tangram set he was using, when she finished her test she wanted to find some online tangrams. Fine with me -- I'm all about letting my children's interests lead them at certain points in time.
I'm not sure of the documented benefits of tangrams, but here's what I observed in both of my children:
- Focused THINKING for an extended period of time
- Spatial awareness training
- Seeing a challenge, and MEETING that challenge
- Using the language of geometry while working
- Pure enjoyment from completing a difficult task
Favorite Tangram Resources
- Mighty Minds - cards go in level of difficulty and are quite engaging
- Tangrams Squidoo Lens - tons of links and learning ideas
- The Warlord's Puzzle - we loved this book last year and my son was talking about it again today... it really stuck with him!
- My First Tangrams iPad app
- Create your own "Patch" by using geometric shapes (not exactly tangrams, but it fits in with the theme and my 11 year old daughter designed her own "quilt" this way) at Illuminations Resources for Teaching Math
How much better it is to physically manipulate shapes than just to read about them in a book or draw them on a piece of paper! Tangrams are the perfect actiivity to reinforce your geometry studies, or just to do for FUN.
I'm pretty sure we'll be doing this a lot this year --- and I may even get really fancy and help the kids make Tangram Snacks one day, too. How cool is that?