Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tangrams -- Buy or DIY
Do you know Tangrams? I was first introduced to these many years ago, when I was in fourth grade. In fact, I still have my original set from back them! Tangrams are a Chinese puzzle set of seven specific shapes that are combined to make pictures of figures, flowers, boats, abstract shapes, etc. You simply move the pieces around in various combinations until they form the desired shape, but it's harder than it sounds. My set came with a book of solid black shapes, and the answers in the back showed the solutions by recreating the same shape but with white lines showing how the various puzzle pieces lined up. Probably the most common Tangram puzzle is to arrange the shapes in a simple square, like so:
But like I said, it's harder than it looks!
There are so many reasons Tangrams would make great stocking stuffers. First, they're inexpensive -- in fact, you can buy five complete sets on Amazon for only $5.99. These don't come with a book, but that doesn't matter, because you can print free Tangram puzzles online -- just go to Google.
Second, Tangrams are fun for kids, teens, college students, men, women -- anyone who enjoys games and puzzles. They also make a nice traveling game for car trips, as long as you have a lap desk. They're great for kids to play with while waiting for food at restaurants. Moms can keep them in a baggie in their purses!
Third, there are a lot of varieties these days. You can get magnetic Tangram sets, wooden sets that come in a little square-shaped frame for storage, sets of cards with new patterns when you've exhausted what you have, an ABC pattern book, a puzzle-a-day calendar, and so on. Here are some of the many options.
Fourth, if you prefer not to buy, Tangrams can also be a great do-it-yourself stocking stuffer, or a fun craft project for kids. I was so enamored of my set in fourth grade that I made my older sister a matching set out of cardboard that I painted. I just traced my set onto the cardboard and cut them out. Nowadays, you can just find free templates online. You can paint them or get fancier with ModPodge, although a busy pattern might make it harder to solve puzzles with them because it could be distracting.
Where: Amazon, elsewhere, or make your own!
How much (as of today's post):