Did you play with tangrams when you were little? If you didn't, now's the time to have fun with these little mathematical gems. With a nod to the geometry trend as well as hooking into childhood nostalgia, tangrams have never been cooler. Here's a simple project to create a set of tangram magnets - and we've thrown in some cool designs to make with them, too!
- 1 A4 magnet sheet (at least 0.85 grams).
- Cutting surface.
Step 1: Pattern and Designs
A tangram is an ancient geometrical dissection puzzle that originated in China, but is loved by kids and nerds worldwide today. It consists of seven shapes, which can be configurated in seemingly countless variations to form different designs. The objective of the game is to create a specific outline using these seven pieces without overlapping them. The basic shape of tangram (there are some other variations) is the one presented on the pattern here.
It's basically a rectangular shape divided in triangles of three sizes, along with a square and a parallelogram. Using these seven pieces you can form various designs like the ones shown here: running guy, cat, swan, bunny and duck.
In the pattern, the colours indicate which piece to use to form the designs; therefore these puzzles are already solved. For more fun search online for 'outlined designs' and try to create them. But you need to make your tangram magnet set first, right?
Step 2: Draw a Square
Take one A4 sheet of magnet. The cool thing is that magnet sheets come in different colours. You can therefore create not only a black tangram set, but also a coloured one in the shade of your choice. You could also use several pieces of different coloured magnet sheets and combine them to create one multi-coloured set. It's up to you. The important thing to know is that one A4 sheet is more than enough to create four sets.
Draw a square with a side of 10cm (3.9 in).
Step 3: Calculate and Copy the Pattern
Inside your drawn square, calculate and copy the pattern. First calculate the centre of the up and left sides of the square, which is 5cm from the upper left corner and join these two points (fig.1). Now draw the diagonal of the square from the right upper corner to the left lower one (fig.2). Draw the other diagonal stopping at the first line you drew, before reaching the corner (fig.3).
Now draw two more lines one parallel to the left side of the square, starting from the intersection point of the second diagonal with the first line (fig.4) and one perpendicular to the first diagonal (fig.5). Now you've got your tangram pattern!
Step 4: Cut the Tans
Now following the pattern you have created, cut out the pieces of tangram, called tans. Take care to keep the cutter perpendicular to the working surface and cut the pieces with precision.
Step 5: Clean any Marks
When the pieces are cut, clean any pencil marks with an eraser.
Repeat the process. Look how many sets you can make with just two A4 sheets of magnet! They make great gifts, too!
Step 6: Form a New Shape Every Morning!
You can now put the pieces together into various formations: people, cats, bunnies, swans and even cool abstract designs. I love this project - the fridge magnets are both practical and fun for kids large and small.
Were you inspired by this tip? Please tell us what you think in the comments section below!