A tangram is a puzzle made of seven shapes that together form a large square. The shapes can be arranged in many different ways to resemble things in the world around us—or create interesting patterns. Here’s how you can create your own set of tangrams to use at home!
Cut a square. You can make a square out of a rectangular sheet of paper by folding one corner over until it meets the edge, and then cutting off the extra.
Cut along the diagonal folded line. You will have two triangles! Set one triangle aside for now.
Take the remaining triangle and fold that in half to make two smaller triangles. Cut along the folded line.
Set those two aside. They are your first two tangram pieces! To make sure all of your shapes are cut correctly, you can reference the last photo in this post.
Take the larger triangle that you first set aside. Fold it partially (Do not fold it completely!) in half. This is to find the center.
Fold the top corner of the triangle over so it touches the center on the long side of the triangle. Cut along the folded line.
Set that new triangle aside. It is your third tangram shape!
Take the remaining paper. It will NOT be a triangle; it is a trapezoid (specifically an isosceles trapezoid). Fold the trapezoid in half so all edges meet.
Crease the fold, then flatten the trapezoid again.
Fold the pointy tip of one side of the trapezoid in until it touches the center of the longest side of the trapezoid. Cut along that fold and the center fold. You should have just made your next two tangram shapes: a square and a small triangle! Set them both aside.
With the remaining shape (a right trapezoid), fold the 90-degree corner opposite the widest angle (or obtuse angle) of the trapezoid down until it touches the point of that angle. In other words, take the upper-left corner in the picture here and fold it over to meet the lower-right point.
Cut along the fold. You have just made your last two tangram shapes: another small triangle and a parallelogram.
Your shapes should all roughly fit together to re-form a large square!
Look online to find even more tangram puzzles to try! You can create your own tangram pictures and glue them down to make a work of art. What will you create?
Brett Henzig is the Youth & Family Programs Educator. He manages the Kohl’s Art Studio, leads school tour workshops, and teaches Youth Studio Classes and Summer Art Camps. Outside the Museum, you’ll find Brett making art, rescuing injured wild animals, and spending time with his wife, son, dog, cat, and rabbit.