In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Grandfather Tang

on January 23, 2012

  Anytime I can integrate math and literature, I jump on the chance. Grandfather Tang’s Story is a story that I have always loved and have used across grade levels. There are many ways to use this tangram tale, but this year I brought the tale to my fifth grade students and took it to more advanced math.


We started out by making our own tangram set from a blank sheet of cardstock paper. Every student made their own set. Here’s how we did it.









More discussion questions:

1. Which triangles are congruent? Which are similar?

2. Are all triangles congruent? Are all triangles similar? Are all right triangles similar? How do you know?

3. Is there another shape or shapes that are always similar?

4. Is there any shape that would always be congruent?

5. Can you put it back into a square? I was surprised how many students struggled with this, rather than working backwards. Then again, it was great insight into how my students think. 


As you read the book with your students, have them recreate the animals of the story using their own tangrams. You’ll be surprised how many students struggle this activity. It will probably be your students who are not traditionally good with math. My best math student had the worst time with this. We are now doing additional activities to enhance spatial reasoning in class. His tablemates also loved being able to help him in a math activity. His frustration was also healthy too!


Check out this link to MATHWIRE for additional resources.


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