The students were able to do an activity today that was really hands on. I was only at the school during the morning today, as I had a mandatory student teacher meeting to attend at the University from 1:15- 4:00pm. However, the time I did spend with the students this morning was so much fun and they did an excellent job! We started math with the meeting board as usual and the students were able to find the answer to my somewhat tricky pattern of the day which ended up being add 1, add 2 and repeat. So their problem looked similar to 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, etc.. For the main lesson we went over how to write a number in expanded form. So for example the students learned that to write 473 in expanded form means to write 400+70+3= 473. This concept really helps students understand place value and that when reading a number you really are just putting together the digits in each place from the ones to hundreds in order to create a number.
The next part of math was what the students really seemed to enjoy. We began with just a simple square and the students folded and cut out the 7 pieces of tangrams using construction paper. Some of the folds were very difficult as it requires you to touch different corners and fold things in half and fourths. But the students did an excellent job creating their tangrams and following directions, so now they have a set of tangrams to keep for their very own. I then had a challenge for the students to put all 7 of their pieces back together to form the original square again. They worked so hard to “turn” or the new word we learned today, “Tessellate”, the shapes to create the square and after some help were finally able to put it back together. And as if that wasn’t enough for them to make tangrams and put them back together in the original square, these superb second graders actually completed half of a 4th grade level fraction sheet using their tangrams!
Using the tangrams we talked about what fraction of one shape was to another. Such as the small triangle being 1/4 of the large triangle and the medium triangle being 1/2 of the large triangle. The students discovered that the small triangle was able to fit into each one of the shapes so we eventually found out that the seven total tangrams could be separated into 16 equal parts. We then worked together to find out how much each piece was worth. The image below shows the fractions each piece represents out of the whole set. Most of the fractions have been simplified rather than being out of 16. So math was pretty exciting for the students today and I am sure they cannot wait for the next lesson that uses tangrams.
For parents, fellow teachers and friends, I have posted some links to tangram templates and activities for you to use at home. I have also left a link for videos that show how to teach different math concepts using tangrams. Tangrams can be used for creating designs, shapes, pictures, fractions, games and so much more. If you want to make a set to use, you can either print out the tangram template on colored paper, on white paper for the student to color or even cut out the template and draw it onto construction paper and cut it out. There are a ton of activities and lessons that use tangrams and having manipulatives for students to use is one great way for them to get a real hands on experience for learning. I hope that many of you at home will try out some of the activities with your students or children and find out how fun learning can be using tangrams. Till tomorrow, I hope you all enjoy the rest of your evening!
Tangram Math Lessons/Activities:
Tangram picture/shape templates: