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Tangramables, Grades K-6 Review by Donna Campos

Judi Martschinke
IllustratorJanet McDonnell
Learning Resources
380 N. Fairway Drive
Vernon Hills, IL 60061

Tangramables is a 96-page book and plastic tangrams set appropriate for children from kindergarten to 6th grade. The book (which offers both English and Spanish) includes a half page of teacher's notes, a full page of instructions on using the book, and a page explaining the "icons" found throughout the book. Divided into three sections, the book contains a wide range of activities. In the "Cover Up" section, younger children are able to use outlines to aid in manipulation of the tangram pieces. The second section, "Imagination," offers pictures without outline guides and includes a full range of patterns--from fairly simple to more difficult. The final section, entitled "Shapes from Shapes," includes a small help section on each page that highlights the necessary pieces to complete the task at hand. The answers for all the patterns are included in the back of the book. The seven-piece tangram set comes in a small plastic non-resealable bag, while the book and tangram set come together in a larger Ziploc bag with a cut-out carrying handle. The book grants permission to reproduce for student use, and all pages are perforated and have clear blackline images that copy readily.

This product is intended to enhance a math curriculum for a variety of age ranges and levels of ability. The final section especially should increase the understanding of geometric shapes as a child explores and manipulates the patterns. Many of the pictures are animal-related, but there are a variety of other themes as well. Simplistic drawings allow for children to color in their activities if they so choose and embellish them at will. This is an ideal tool to be used in homeschools as a supplement to any math curriculum.

Most students enjoy manipulatives, and tangrams have been a consistent favorite in our household. So, naturally, Tangramables was a welcome addition. The perforated pages are ideal for a multi-child family that desires to use the book over several years. We immediately broke the book down and inserted the pages into page protectors and a three ring binder for super easy copying and many years of use. We inserted the cover into the clear pockets on the outside of the binder and were instantly organized! The tangram pieces can be placed in a zipper pencil pouch within the binder. Our younger students enjoyed being able to color in the pages after they completed the manipulation activities and kept a record of their work by tracing around the "answer" in their worksheet. Older students can use the included sheets with or without keeping a page record, possibly saving the expense of printing copies.

When using this product with multiple children, a family will almost certainly require additional tangram sets. The company offers an additional set of four for a very small cost of four dollars, which we found a pleasant surprise. (The Tangramables book and tangram set is also reasonably priced at ten dollars.) We were frustrated by not having the additional sets immediately and would encourage anyone to include the added set of four with their initial purchase, for the simple point of convenience. Of course, an innovative family could use card stock to make additional sets (perhaps as a math assignment). The company also offers an overhead projector tangram set, with pieces that are transparent, which would enable a child to see the picture through the pieces.

Tangramables was a bit of a no-brainer for our family. We love manipulatives and have always enjoyed the educational value of tangrams. The broad age range allows children from different grade levels to sit down together and work on different activities suited to their age level. This is a welcome product for homeschools just discovering the fun of tangrams as well as those who have enjoyed them for years. Tangramables is a new version of an old favorite!

Product review by Donna Campos, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2007