Tangrams Traditional Chinese Puzzles

002square tangramsol1200Original Tangram Chinese Puzzles

The original and traditional Tangram game consists of 1 large square divided into seven distinct parts:

These 7 pieces (or tans) are then arranged into one recognizable shape at a time positioned in various positions such as running, flying, sitting, etc:

One tangram puzzle can produce many different shapes simply by rearranging the pieces randomly until a recognizable shape appears. Of course none of the tans may overlap and all must touch each other in some fashion.


Whimsical and Creative Tangrams

Use the pull-down menu above to view various tangram versions.

Traditional math-based Tangram Puzzles and creative whimsical, printable puzzle images.  Tangram puzzles remind me of the mosaics of Pompei and stained glass window designs.  My parents loved to make mosaic designs to rerurface old tables.  I remember them both cautioning me to stand back while they broke various colored glass bottles to create pieces for the designs.  I learned glass is very sharp but the rewards of a beautiful mosaic design might just be worth the accidental nick.

Overview Tangram puzzles

This section contains a brief introduction into Tangrams, those wonderful Chinese puzzles, along with a few possible solutions which can provide seemingly endless possibilities in creativity and design. 

These standard and non-traditional geometric triangle-shaped tangrams use the properties of geometric shapes to determine the particular dissection of each "tan" piece while attempting to stick with the traditional 7 "tan" dissection rule.  Design your own dissection of each "tan" piece within the traditional 7 "tan" dissection rule.  


Tangram felt-board games: Make several kid sized felt-boards with 12" x 12" squares of cardboard covered with dark-colored felt fabric. Hint, old record album (LP) covers are about the right size and work great for making play surfaces which children can use to build their own puzzle solutions.  Cover the square cardboard with a sheet of felt to help the pieces stay in place.  Trace the tangram designs onto brightly colored felt or foam sheets, cut the tans out of the tangram, and make fun traveling games for children.

Provide pencils and pads of plain paper so children can keep a diary and re-draw and record the different shapes. I have purposely not included solutions for most of the tangrams to encourage creativity.

The possible themes and combinations of tangram shapes are as endless as imagination:

  • Animals
  • Buildings
  • Birds
  • Plants
  • Flowers
  • Trees
  • Letters
  • Other Geometric shapes
  • Household items
  • Numbers
  • People
  • Automobiles
  • Trains
  • Trucks
  • Space Ships
  • Aliens
  • Insects

A typical tangram solution may be seen here: Tangram running man.