Lesson Plan Title : Using Tangrams to Find Patterns

Age Range:

Grade 9 through Grade 12 (High School)

Overview and Purpose:

Students will create patterns using tangram pieces inside a shoebox lid. After they have placed the pieces in the lid, they will count how many shapes there are. So, if they use triangle shapes, they will count how many different triangles there are in the shoebox lid.


Students will be able to

*create a pattern using tangrams inside a shoebox lid.

*count the number of shapes found using tangrams in a shoebox lid.


One shoebox lid for each pair of students

One set of tangrams for each pair of students (each set of tangrams should be the same shape, but different colors)

Math journals


Divide the class into pairs. Give each pair a shoebox lid and a set of tangrams. Give them time to create any pattern they want, as long as the side of each piece is touching the side of at least one other piece. When they are finished, ask them to count how many of the shape tangrams they have in their pattern and to record their answer and a sketch of their pattern in their math journal. So, if they have triangles, they should count how many triangles they have. The figure below has 5 triangles.

After they have finished counting, have them trade shoeboxes with another group and count the shapes they see. Have them compare numbers to see if both groups found all of them.

If time permits, challenge the students to create more complex patterns to try to stump the other groups.


Using the different colored tangrams will make it easier for the students to see the patterns and to explain to each other which patterns they see. An extension of this activity would be to have students create patterns on the computer using word or paint. The complexity of the patterns would then be up to their imaginations. The worksheets could be kept in class for students to work on when they had finished a test or other work.