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Grandfather Tang’s Story: A blog post told in Tangrams

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making TangramsGrandfatherTangsStory

Told in tangrams, the story of Grandfather Tang’s story by AnnTompert, is about two fairy foxes.


Fairy foxes are ancient animals indeed, just like all fairies. Fairy foxes can change shape into anything. The two fairy foxes in our story constantly challenge each other into changing from one animal shape to another.

First a rabbit and then a squirrel.



After a couple of easy animal changes they changed into a hawk to fly high in the sky.


All was well as they continued to change from animals from land, sea, and sky. It was at the goose where problems arose.


Come read this tangram tale and find out how they work together to have a happy ending. This story is good for any age. Even my 12 yr old loved it and we all had an absolute blast playing our tangram game. Read below to find out how.

Something To Do:

This story lends itself nicely to a moment of tangram play. Tangrams is a very ancient Chinese game using 7 shapes.

  • 2 large right triangles.
  • 1 medium right triangle.
  • 2 small right triangles.
  • 1 square
  • 1 parallelogram.


We first read the story of Grandfather Tang’s Story and then the second time through we made the tanagrams as we read along.

What is the legend behind tanagrams?

Legend of the Tangram

dragon Yu  A legend says: “Thousands and thousands of years ago, Yu(玉龍), the Great Dragon, lived among humans, who venerated him because he was ‘yang’, good, and was always ready to help them. One day, the God of Thunder, jealous of the offerings the men had brought to Yu, in a burst of anger, crushed the sky with his hatchet. So, the sky fell on Earth in seven pieces black like coal. Light disappeared taking with it all existing things.
At first Yu felt sad for the world, and then felt nostalgic. So he decided to collect the seven black pieces of the sky and, in memory of the former world, began to reassemble several kinds of shapes: animals, plants and human beings that had disappeared. But after finishing each shape, its shadow left it and wandered the deserted world crying about its misfortune.
These complaints reached the ears of the God of Thunder who was touched and, to remedy the harm he had caused, he pulled from each shadow the body of a living being to repopulate the Earth. From that time on, our shadow faithfully follows every move we make and with the seven pieces of the sky, called Qi Qiao Ban (literally ‘seven boards of cunning’), everything on Earth can still be shaped”.

SourceAlmanacco del Matematico, © G. Sarcone, 2001

The Tangram Game

We went to the library and checked out a tanagram book. Making many of the animals and figures, we photographed them, made a photo-collage,and printed them onto card stock. Cutting them apart, we now have many tangram cards.

  • Make one set of tangram shapes for each person.
  • Mix the cards up and turn them face down. 
  • Each person on their turn draws a card and constructs the tangram. 
  • See how fast you can do play the game. 

Enjoy !!!!!

2 thoughts on “Grandfather Tang’s Story: A blog post told in Tangrams

  1. You’ve selected wonderful activities to go along with this book—a whole book project that would be perfect for home or school. Love this post and how you told it with your tanagrams!

  2. This is great! Thank you for sharing it! I didn’t know the legend of tangram, didn’t even know there is one behind it. And idea of making separate cards of tangram shapes is also something I could never come up with 🙂

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