Archive for November, 2011

Tangram – the seven-piece ingenious puzzle

Tangram on my frig

On a whim I purchased a few 8.5″ x 11″ colored vinyl magnetic sheets to make a few specialized magnetic note holders. Some I made by cutting out various shapes. Others I decorated by affixing stickers to them. There was plenty of the material left. Then I came across Mr. Randy Crawford’s wonderful web site dedicated to tangrams.

This brought back warm memory of that day in childhood when my mother gave me a plastic tangram set and showed me how to form interesting shapes using those colorful pieces. In Chinese, the tangram set is called 七巧板 (qīqiǎobǎn), literally, seven slabs of ingenuity. I’m not sure whether my early experience with the tangram had anything to do with my aptitude for geometry – I loved geometry in my secondary school years. I think it does explain why I’m so fond of solving puzzles. Anyway, if you wish to impress your child’s young mind with the concept of basic geometrical shapes and the spatial relationship among them, why not introduce this puzzle/game to them?

Working with the tangram puzzles helps develop problem-solving skills. If it doesn’t work one way, then you’d try arranging the pieces some other way, until all the seven pieces are used and the resulting figure matches the puzzle provided in silhouette. After you have gained experience with how the pieces fit together, you may be able to spot the solution to some of the puzzles right away. This is not unlike how one deals with one’s problems in life. And a big bonus of solving the tangram puzzles is that a solution always exists, which cannot be said of many real-life problems.

Solution to a tangram puzzle

On this page Mr. Crawford provides a pattern for making your own 4″ x 4″ tangram set. I promptly made two sets out of my magnetic sheets and arranged the pieces on my refrigerator. I know I will be visiting my frig much more often from now on.

Well, Christmas will sneak up on you before you know it. Why not make a colorful tangram for each young and not so young person on your gifting list who might enjoys solving puzzles? These will also work great as stocking stuffers or birthday take-home gifts. Be sure to include an instruction sheet with a few interesting puzzle diagrams to start with. Drop off a couple nicely packaged tangram sets at a toy collection center, and you will feel extra warm in the heart this holiday season. If you are good with woodworking, make your next project a wooden tangram set. If have older children, then ask them to make their own tangram sets out of colored construction paper or paper boards. That will be a great exercise in planning, measuring and drawing as well as cutting accurately.

Cut carefully in straight lines around the polygons so the pieces will fit well together. If you use colored vinyl magnetic sheets, take extra care as boobos will be costly. Assuming no mishaps, you can get four tangram sets by using one 8.5″ x 11″ magnetic sheet. With two different-color 8.5″ x 11″ magnetic sheets, you could make eight two-color tangram sets. With three different-color 8.5″ x 11″ magnetic sheets, you should be able to get 12 tri-color tangram sets. There will also be sufficient material remaining for you to make a few custom magnetic note holders.

As the magnetic tangram pieces only have one colored side, you will need to make two pieces of the parallelogram shape, one the mirror image of the other, because the parallelogram has no reflective symmetry. If you only provide one prallelogram shape, and the puzzle requires you to flip that piece to fit in the slot, then that piece will have the magetic side up, and it won’t stick to your frig or metal file cabinet.

If you don’t feel like making a tangram set yourself, nor wish to spend money on purchasing one, then you and your children could play this game on-line at the NCTM site.

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U-pick apples

The apples had ripened. A sweet smell pervaded the orchard. Mr. Holms had put up asign in front of the orchard, which showed: “U-pick Apples”. All week long, people had been coming to pick the apples from the trees. They loaded bags and boxes with large, red apples. Mrs. Holms weighed the apples and received the payments. She was pleased that she would be able to use the money to buy things that the family needed.

(The End)

 

———————————————————————–

苹果成熟了.
Píngguǒ shú le.

果园里弥漫著香甜的气味.
Guǒyuán lǐ mímàn zhe xiāngtián de qìwèi.

何先生在农场前面
Hé xiānsheng zài nóngcháng qiánmiàn

挂了一个招牌, 上面写著: “自采苹果”
guà le yīgè zhāopái, shàngmiàn xiě zhe: “Zì Cǎi Píngguǒ”

整个星期, 有许多人来采树上的苹果.
Zhěnggè xīngqī yǒu xǔduō rén lái cǎi shù shàng de píngguǒ.

他们把又大又红的苹果
Tāmen bǎ yòu hóng yòu dà de píngguǒ

装到袋子和箱子里.
zhuāng dào dàizi hé xiāngzi lǐ.

何太太把苹果秤好, 并收下钱.
Hé tàitài bǎ píngguǒ chèng hǎo, bìng shōu xià qián.

她很高兴可以用这些钱
Tā hěn gāoxìng kěyǐ yòng zhèxiē qián

来买家里需要的东西.
lái mǎi jiā lǐ xūyào de dōngxi.

———————————————————————–

蘋果成熟了.
Píngguǒ shú le.

果園裡彌漫著香甜的气味.
Guǒyuán lǐ mímàn zhe xiāngtián de qìwèi.

何先生在農場前面
Hé xiānsheng zài nóngcháng qiánmiàn

掛了一個招牌, 上面寫著: “自採蘋果”
guà le yīgè zhāopái, shàngmiàn xiě zhe: “Zì Cǎi Píngguǒ”

整個星期, 有許多人來採樹上的蘋果.
Zhěnggè xīngqī yǒu xǔduō rén lái cǎi shù shàng de píngguǒ.

他們把又大又紅的蘋果
Tāmen bǎ yòu hóng yòu dà de píngguǒ

裝到袋子和箱子裡.
zhuāng dào dàizi hé xiāngzi lǐ.

何太太把苹果秤好, 並收下錢.
Hé tàitài bǎ píngguǒ chèng hǎo, bìng shōu xià qián.

她很高興可以用這些錢
Tā hěn gāoxìng kěyǐ yòng zhèxiē qián

來買家裡需要的東西.
lái mǎi jiā lǐ xūyào de dōngxi.

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