A Tangram is another type of dissected puzzle that originated in China. No standard instruction is given, instead, you need to use your creativity and spatial reasoning to form other shapes out of it.

For more Chinese tangram know-about plus some exciting challenges to do with, continue reading below.

What is the goal of Chinese tangram puzzle?

The goal of the Chinese tangram is to create a new form of shape out of seven polygons. The unique shape may be a form of animals, other polygons, humans, things, and anything you can think of. Just make sure that each piece should be connected but not overlapping each other.

Tangram is originally a square-shaped polygon divided into seven pieces (also known as “tans“). Tans consist of triangles, one square, and one parallelogram, all of which have a right triangle in them.

The right-angle triangle is the main shape needed to create one sizeable perfect square, to which it is almost always the basis of the Pythagorean theorem.

Pythagorean theorem is a mathematical equation commonly used to solve geometry problems. This equation relies on the hypotenuse of two right triangles to form a square.

Below is the location where the right triangle in each tan is.

Two large right triangles
Two large right triangles
One medium-sized right triangles
One medium-sized right triangles
 Two small right triangles
Two small right triangles
One small square
One small square
One parallelogram
One parallelogram

Some references said that tangram was used to prove the Pythagorean theorem; however, it was not proven because of missing historical documents.

How do you play Chinese tangram?

Playing Chinese tangram is easy. All you need is your place to do your tangram, tangram polygons, and your creative mind. You can refer to the given shapes on the tangram box itself, or you can make new ones based on your creativity.

There’s no manual or standard instruction on how to play Chinese tangram. So let your mind wander and imagine how you want things should looked like.

Now, you might think that this is boring and such. That’s why I have created a list of tangram challenges that you can yourself to get you pumping!

Tangram Challenge list

1. Five images in 5 minutes challenge

As the name of the game implies, you need to create five images in 5 minutes. This game can be done to beat your time records, or you can do this with a friend.

If you do this with a friend, I suggest creating an agreement on what consequence the loser will do. It’ll add excitement and fun while doing this.

This challenge can be done if you’re bored and tired of waiting for your food delivery. It’ll help you feel like time pass faster because of the thrill, fun, and frustrations of losing all at once.

Give it a try!

2. Do an alphabet challenge in a month

Form one letter of the alphabet each day. This is an excellent practice to hasten your tangram skills.

This challenge may seem to be easy at first glance, but looks can be deceiving. Different letter corners and shapes pose a significant challenge and twist. First, you need to figure out how tans should be adequately placed to form one.

3. Number challenge for a week

Create one number per day per week. Same as the alphabet one, this will help you exercise your creative and spatial reason one day at a time.

You can follow the number shape of the current date you’re playing. It’ll be your “tangram trophy of the day” when you’ve figured out how to form it.

4. Pair tangram challenge

This challenge aims to form a tangram image by pairs. You can have a timer on each team to know who will be able to create the fastest. Whoever is the fastest one to finish is the winner. Consequences may be given to the loser, and it’s up to your internal arrangement what that would be.

It can be played as a “bet game” if you want to.

For example, if you and your friend have a conflict about what decision should be taken, playing this challenge could help settle things. Just feel free to add other rules to the game to make it more fun and exciting.

5. Show your tangram portrait

Look for the best portrait that you have at home and re-create it using tans. It’ll be best to look for something that shows your whole body so that you can create the silhouette out of it.

You can also take a picture of your portrait tangram and then put it beside your original image to remember it.

This one could also be a great gift to show your loved ones! Showing your efforts and creativity at the same time would mean a lot to them.

So why don’t you try it now?

6. Tangram zodiac

Create your zodiac sign using tans. If you happen to finish your zodiac sign, try completing other zodiacs as well. Please create this while waiting for your loved one to come over on your birthday. It can be your gift to yourself too!

You can also try it using your Chinese zodiac signs or other astrological signs you can think of.

7. Tangram consequence

Tangram consequence is a group activity where one member will guess the item’s name on their forehead, using the help of their group mates. The catch is, each group member isn’t allowed to speak or show action clues; instead, they need to create a tangram image out of it. The fastest group that has the most items solved wins.

Make sure to have a timer in this game so that the thrill won’t die. Also, it is highly recommended to create a huge-sized tangram to increase the level of difficulty.

I highly recommend that days before this game, you should create your huge tans. But, then, making this with your family or friends is a lot of fun because you’ll surely think and imagine how you’ll play with it on your scheduled activity.

Also, it’ll help you build teamwork from the very start, and you’ll be able to customize it according to your team’s liking.

8. Create a tangram story book

If you’re a creative writer and a puzzler at the same time, you’ll surely enjoy this game. Create a short child story according to your preferences, then make an image that represents each storyline. This game is excellent for developing a child’s creativity and imagination. You can also have a picture of it, save it on your computer, then print a storybook out of it!

This one can be done as a self-challenge and as a customized gift as well. Self-challenge because you need to push yourself to build your storybook from scratch, during customized gift because the finished product may be given to your loved ones.

9. Guess me

Try to guess the unusual image formed by your opponent in three tries. If you fail to guess what it is, you’ll receive a consequence. I suggest having 3 to 5 images at hand so that whoever thought the most would be the winner.

Your opponent can guess the image even if it is not yet complete, but once your friend starts guessing, you should start the timer to add more layers of difficulty. It’s your internal arrangement for how long would that be but, I suggest that should be 3 minutes at the maximum.

Here’s the complete “guess me” guide that you can follow:

  1. As the challenger, you should put tans together one at a time. You can spend 30 seconds to one minute in each tan then let your opponent guess what it is.
  2. Once your opponent started guessing, his/her time of guessing has already started. So, your opponent should figure it out before the timer is out.
  3. If you happen to finish the image and your opponent haven’t started guessing yet, he/she has no choice but to figure it out within 3 minutes. If they’re unable to answer correctly, they lose. The challenger gets the point.

10. Pet me

Next, create a tangram version of your pet! This could also be an excellent gift for other “fur” parents out there. You have to look for a portrait picture of a pet then create a tangram version of it. Then, please take a picture of the finished product and post it beside the original photo.

If you want to go on the next level of your creativity, use your finished tangram as a pattern for your cross-stitch, then have it framed afterward.

Final Say

Playing tangram is easy. Here’s why.

  • No special equipment is needed.
  • No standard instructions
  • Cheap
  • Versatile
  • It’s a puzzle for all ages

What’s best is…
You just need to use your creative mind and you’re good to go!

Would you try the challenges I’ve listed? If so, what would you do?

Share it in the comments below!

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