I did tangram as a kid. I don’t know how old I was. I do know I played with my father’s set. He’s a mathematician. At the time of course I did not realize just how educational the game was.
I was learning about angles, symmetry and geometry in general.
On Amazon it says that tangram is for kids aged 6 through 10, but I think it’s probably a too difficult for most 6 year old children. With a smart kid I’d try it out at 7 or 8. I think I was 9 or 10 when I went through a whole tangram book my dad has.
Of course adults do tangram too, so it’s not as if it’s only for children, but the sets shown here are aimed at children – which you can mostly tell by the colors.
Do note that the puzzle isn’t only about how to get all the pieces in the square – though that’s a nice one to get started with.
I like the Tangoes set to get you started: it includes two tangram sets as well as cards for shapes to try out. So if you want, you can add a competitive element.
There are plenty of online sources where you can find example games and a tangram app can also be a source of tangram puzzles to solve.
However, the classic analog method is perhaps best: get a book.
- For kids: Three Pigs, One Wolf, Seven Magic Shapes
- Tangram Puzzles: 500 Tricky Shapes to Confound & Astound/ Includes Deluxe Wood Tangrams
- The Tangram Book: The Story of the Chinese Puzzle with Over 2000 Puzzles to Solve
An alternative is this tangram puzzle set. It includes 60 puzzle cards with hints and ads the challenge that you don’t merely need to make the figure (in orange) but also fill up the square with the yellow pieces.
For the smarter tangram student: can all ordinary tangram shapes be fitted into this square?
Alternative tangram set: Archimedes tangram
If your child likes tangram and has done all the puzzles available (there are hundreds, so that takes a while), you may want to try them on other sets. Because the angles on Archimedes’ set are different, it ads a whole different way of thinking about shapes and geometry.
The Archimedes Square Stomachion Puzzle is curious: it has hundreds of solutions (for creating a square), and yet it is very difficult to do. So challenge yourself or your kid, especially if tangram is getting too easy.
See also: 3D puzzles