Tangram Fury has arrived!
View a quick video on how to play Tangram Fury.
Frederic, Click here:
View a quick video on how to play Tangram Fury
About the Game
My Journey into Tangrams
My father-in-law has a wood shop. It’s great. The problem is, it’s 1500 miles from where I live, so I only get to use it when we visit. Our last visit was a quick one, so I only had time to build something small. I decided to make some wooden puzzles. I did some quick research on wooden puzzles and found a couple patterns I liked. They turned out fine.
A couple of months after being back, I was flipping through my dictionary in search of some word that I’ve since forgotten. As the pages flipped by, I caught a glimpse of a diagram of what looked like a puzzle. I wondered what puzzle was so “famous” that it was diagramed in the dictionary. I flipped back until I found it.
It said that it was a “tangram.” “A what?” I wondered. I don’t believe I’d ever heard of one, so I read the definition. It was interesting to read that it dated back to ancient China. I saw that it was basically a series of dissections and decided it wouldn’t be too hard to make one out of wood.
Anxious to get started, I traced one on a flat side of a box and cut it out. I was playing around with it on my countertop, when my 7th grade daughter walked by.
She saw the pieces, rolled her eyes and asked, “Oh, brother, you’re not making tangrams now, are you?”
“You’ve heard of these?” I asked.
“Yeah, our teachers make us do them every year,” she sighed, more than a little unhappy at the memory.
“At your junior high, or back when you were in grade school?” I asked.
“Both,” she said. “They give us this paper with the shapes on them and we have to cut them out and make a square out of them.”
“Why would they have you do that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she confessed. “It’s something about it teaching us math skills.”
“Math skills? How would a puzzle teach you math skills?”
“I don’t know. Something about getting that part of our brain going is supposed to help us develop spacial reasoning or something. I just think they’re boring and frustrating.”
She finalized her assessment and walked away.
Intrigued, I turned to the internet to learn more. Sure enough, a search quickly turned up site after site dedicated to tangrams. Apparently, there was an entire world, if not a universe, devoted to something I’d never even heard of moments before. There were sites with histories of tangrams, sites extolling the educational value of working with tangrams, even what seemed to be clubs of some sort dedicated to those who love all things tangrams, as well as downloadable tangram fonts.
But, what caught my attention most were the sites with puzzles of shapes and such that could be made with the 7 pieces of the tangram. There seemed to be an endless supply of shapes that could be made. They were anything from houses to birds to people to symmetric shapes. I found a site that said that they have documented over 5,900 different shapes that could be made out of the standard 7-piece tangram listed in books, all of which came from the 19th Century alone!
Intrigued, I started trying to replicate some of the shapes. It seemed kind of fun. I decided to make a game of it – literally. I sketched out various shapes on pieces of paper to use as cards. Then I hit the stores on a quest to find material that was suitable for making playable tangram pieces. I found what I was looking for and set to work.
Soon, I had a working prototype. I invited my wife and kids – including my daughter, Hannah, who had rolled her eyes – to sit down and play. I rolled a die which announced the category of shape we’d need to make. I explained that the first one to make the shape would win that hand. I showed the card and began making the shape.
I decided to take my time, because it wasn’t fair for me to go full-speed, as I was the one who had drawn the shapes. I was nearing completion, when Hannah announced, “Done!”
“What? That was fast!” I commended her, as I handed her the card she had just won.
My wife rolled the die for the second turn. I was marveling at how quickly Hannah had managed to work, when I heard her again announce, “Done!”
Sure enough, she had the completed figure in front of her. I decided to pay more attention and work a bit more quickly. She won the next hand, too, though.
My son and I were in awe at her natural prowess. While we both managed to win a hand or two, she was definitely the champ. And, we were all pretty much hooked. It turns out that tangramming can be quite fun, and surprisingly competitive, when presented in the right manner. I suppose we’re all honing our math skills at the same time, but mainly, we’re just trying to keep up with Hannah!
I have to admit, it felt good when Hannah declared, "Hey, I like this game!" I figured that if I could take a girl who felt tangrams were “boring” and get her excited about playing with them, then perhaps I was onto something good.