FAIRFAX, VA — An ancient Chinese puzzle continues to reinforce its place in early childhood learning. While tangrams are remarkably easy to use, they exercise a broad range of core skills that include spatial relations, mathematics, creativity, and problem solving. There are even benefits in socialization.
With the market currently flooded with apps of questionable educational merit, tangram puzzles remain an appealing alternative. While both are fun outlets, tangrams exist in actual space. They improve dexterity. Tangrams are just as effective in sustaining attention as apps yet channel energy toward specific and divergent abilities. These include achieving an elusive balance between left and right brain functioning. With time-tested tools like tangram puzzles for kids, parents won’t need to wonder whether their child(ren) will leap forward.
What are Tangram Puzzles?
Tangrams were invented in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). They are “dissection” puzzles that introduce and transform geometric concepts like triangle, square, and a parallelogram into concrete objects that children can touch and manipulate. Pieces can be arranged to form a variety of shapes, from the most basic to complex. After just a short time with them, it will be abundantly clear why tangram puzzles for kids are so highly recommended. They’re an excellent play-based learning tool.
Why Do Engineers Recommend Tangram Puzzles for Kids?
Tangrams teach children to calculate an area without a formula. It’s a welcomed approach that eases early learners into a more intuitive sense of geometry. Children compare shapes. They ask questions. If I put these together, what do they form? What if I rotated this one? What if I slide these three around into different positions? They’re creating visual-spatial relationships that continue to inform their thinking as mechanical challenges arise later in life.
Why Do Mathematicians Approve of Tangram Puzzles for Kids?
Recent studies have shown that kids who spend 30-40 minutes “warming up” with shape rotation puzzles tend to then perform better on subsequent pencil-and-paper math tests. Crossword puzzles, for example, showed no such correlation. Children learn shape categorization, spatial relations, rotation skills, basic math vocabulary, and even more advanced geometry (e.g., “congruence”).
How Tangrams Kickstart Creativity
Perhaps the most interesting way to utilize tangram puzzles for kids is as a creative challenge. They become a more balanced exercise, as they work on both right and left brain acuity. To do this, turn the design of tangrams around 180 degrees. Instead of solving a puzzle, imagine new solutions. Let hands wander. Put the instructions and solution diagrams aside. What else can be made from these pieces? Instead of bringing pieces together compactly and neatly, what odd shapes can be formed? Think in terms of animals and everyday objects. When the mind is freed to use a tool in an entirely different and more liberating way, incredible results are possible.
Purchase Tabula Raisa’s “Heart of Tabby” Tangram
Problem Solving Matures with Tangram Puzzles for Kids
Any time that you ask a child to focus, consider, work, and arrive at a solution, you are developing his/her problem solving abilities. When you require a child to vocalize and explain the thinking that went into solving a problem, you are helping that early learner to mature as a student. This backbone will be critical to success in any educational endeavor — regardless of the subject matter. Adopting tangram puzzles for kids can quickly create more balanced learners, due to engaging both right and left brain functions.
The Social Benefits
One final way that we recommend using tangram puzzles for kids is in group play. In the classroom, break early learners into small teams, with the same puzzle and challenge assigned. Provide limits on the time and number of solutions necessary to complete the challenge. At home, partner siblings for an exercise. Either setting will test each child’s ability to play and learn together.
Like problem solving, sharing and collaboration are critical in education. Through group activity, kids identify the range in thought and function between peers. As the complexity of projects increases, they are faced with the choice of working together or being alone. They come to realize that groups can achieve far more than isolated individuals. Children can also develop into adults who appreciate different perspectives and exhibit more serious consideration and judgment. Students who learn to identify strengths and weaknesses in not only themselves but also in others, can pivot to managing these in a group environment. Leadership is honed. These less concrete will determine their level of success in a career.
Fun is the Key
Any educational activity that is inherently fun will prove immediately effective in early learning. Gaining attention and channeling energy toward something productive is the beginning, middle, and end of the game. That’s the beauty with tangram puzzles for kids. Any child can do them, and any child can learn from them.
“Heart of Tabby” Among the Very Best Tangram Puzzles for Kids
In our search to provide a beautiful, tactile, handmade tangram that children will love, Tabula Raisa arrived at an adorable heart-shaped set. This affordable, heirloom quality puzzle can be passed down between generations. The wood used is exotic and exquisite. The pieces come with their own tray and storage box. The pieces are lightweight and easy to tote. Other tangram puzzles for kids are on the way, so check back often.