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Midbrain-Activation Tips, Issue #030
July 19, 2014
Dear Friend



  1. Quote for the Week
  2. Editorial
  3. Feature Article
  4. Tips & Tricksl
  5. Feedback
  6. Q & A

Quote of the Week

"It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them."

-- Leo Buscaglia


Welcome to our weekly newsletter.

After the 2 day Midbrain Activation workshop we follow up with the children for 12 weeks. One of the abilities we try to develop during these 12 weeks is creativity. We make full use of Tangrams for this purpose. Today's article gives you a wealth of information on this forgotten tool.

Welcome to our new members Please feel free to pass this on to your list





One story claims that the tangram originated from a large, perfectly square glass frame that was ordered by a king. However, before it could be delivered to the king’s castle it was dropped. Surprisingly, it had not shattered into a thousand pieces, but had broken into seven perfect, geometric shapes. When they tired to put the pieces back in their original form, they realized they could make many other designs. They presented this to the king as a puzzle, and he was fascinated with it (Wichita State University Department of Mathematics and Statistics, 1999).


You can copy the basic template found in the website given in LINK1 at the bottom of this newsletter. Make thick cardboard pieces of the 7 parts and your child will have hours and hours of delightul learning.

Various simple geometric shapes may be formed from seven basic pieces. Ask the child to start with any of the following: 1) A Perfect Square 2) An equal sided triangle 3) a parallelogram 4) a trapezium

If the child uses all the 7 seven shapes and it is a geometic shape, praise and encourage her.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? How an old game might improve spatial skills and boost mathematics performance - See more at: Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.,

Like building blocks, tangrams can teach kids about spatial relationships.

They may help kids learn geometric terms and develop stronger problem solving skills.

They might even help children perform better in general mathematics. - See more at: kids.html#sthash.fLoQdUha.dpuf



You can also get the child to play it online



Tangrams are a great thing to incorporate into the mathematics classroom because they are fun, interesting, and meaningful. Tangrams "help students develop mathematical concepts of fractions, spatial awareness, geometry, area, and perimeter" (Rigdon, D., et al., 2000, p. 304.305).

Because tangrams involve physical manipulatives as well as virtual manipulatives (online tangram activities), this caters to a variety of learning styles. Students who may learn better with manipulitives or through the use of computers will find tangrams to be an experience in mathematics that they might not otherwise have.

Tangrams present a new, interesting, hands- on way to deal with topics that most often are or can be quite boring and meaningless.

Not only are tangrams a great way to help make geometry, fractions, etc. engaging, they also help make it authentic. For example, they "can be arranged to make animals, birds, sea creatures, people and other figures" (Bohning, G., et al., 1997, p. 83-87).

In mathematics, it is very important that children explore with a hands-on, minds-on attack in a problem solving environment. Tangrams promote this idea through open-ended explorations. Through tangrams they are involved in manipulating and problem solving.

By using tangram shapes, children learn the relationships between shapes. Additionally, children learn that three basic shapes, the triangle, square, and parallelogram, can fit together to form many other shapes and figures.

When learning a new concept, it is important to interact with multiple representations of the same idea and be able to translate from one to the other. Critics of direct methods say that teaching things “in isolation from how they are applied, diminishes learners’ problem solving and reasoning skills,” (Roblyer, M.D., 2003, chap. 3), therefore through tangrams, children are interacting with mathematical concepts in a new way, which helps to make the learning deeper.

Not only are tangrams a good way for children to explore mathematics, children actullay find them intersting and like to invent their very own designs. This is very important bacause if the child is interested then half of the battle of reaching them is accomplished. Children realize that from geometric shapes they can make things they see in everyday life such as dogs, cats etc.

The great thing about tangrams is that not all children will make for example a dog in the same way, and that is fine because with tangrams nothing is "set in stone." This not only helps to promote divergent thinking, but it encourages children to take risks because they know that there isn't just one correct way of doing it.

Another reason why tangrams are important and intersting is that "Tangrams have both geometric and artistic features. Children gain geometric insights as they discover and discuss the relationships among the tangram pieces and what they can represent" (Bohning, G., et al., 1997, p. 83-87).

Children are naturally curious so trying to solve a puzzle involving tangrams is going to provoke their curiousity and therefore be interesting so they will be engaged in what they are doing. Also, tangrams promote growth in learning, for example, when children become experienced buliding things from tangrams, they can be challenged even more by experimenting with double tangrams, etc

Title: Tackling Tangrams Authors: Deanna Rigdon; Jolyn Raleigh; Shari Goodman Journal: Teaching Children Mathematics 6 no5 304-5 Ja 2000

In this article, you will find many interactive and creative activities involving tangrams that can be used with students from K-6. One such activity called “Name that Tangram” gives students a riddle and requires them to guess the geometric shape described. For example: I am one of five similar pieces. I have three sides. None of the pieces are the same as I am. What tangram piece am I? This activity appeals directly to students. Also, no solutions are suggested so that students will look to themselves as the mathematical authority, thereby developing confidence to validate their work.

Title: An Old Tale with a New Turn--and Flip and Slide Author: Pat Margerm Jornal: Teaching Children Mathematics 6 no2 86-90 O 1999

This article describes how one can use literature to teach mathematics. This article outlines such a lesson involving tangrams and the story the Three Pigs, One Wolf, and Seven Magic Shapes. By using this story in the classroom, children are exposed to the concept of tangrams through authentic situations. They are able to create tangram shapes and discuss and write about their mathematical transformations. This is an excellent activity to engage students in mathematical learning, as well as increase their enthusiasm toward this particular subject area. There are also numerous extension activities provided at the end of this article that incorporate concepts such as patterns, measurement, and transformational geometry.

Title: Are You Puzzled? Author: Rosamond Welchman Journal: Teaching Children Mathematics 5 no7 412-15 Mr '99

This article describes a lesson where students are involved in working with and comparing two different seven-piece puzzles- the classic tangram puzzle and the seven-piece mosaic puzzle. After children are encouraged to explore each puzzle, they will then compare the two puzzles by constructing various triangles. For example, children are asked to predict whether more triangles will be found with the seven-piece mosaic puzzle than with the tangram puzzle by looking at characteristics such as size, pieces used, orientation on paper etc. Extension activities include making all possible rectangles or squares, and exploring area, angles, lengths, and polygons. By “playing” with puzzles, students discover many of the principles of geometry while enhancing their higher-order thinking skills and having fun while doing so.

Title: Quilts and Tangrams: Linking Literature and Geometry Authors: Gerry Bohning and Rebecca Williams Journal: Childhood Education v73 p83-7 Wint '96-'97

In this article, students link literature to geometry by making quilt patterns using tangram pieces. This lesson gives step by step instructions ranging from introducing tangrams, to when to use quilt literature, to teaching students how to use their tangram pieces to create numerous quilt designs. There are several books listed at the end of this article that can be read to compliment this lesson. This is a very beneficial activity because it provides an authentic learning experience where children can apply what they have learned about tangrams to a popular pastime that has been around for centuries.


This is a three-day lesson plan suitable for grade four students. The first lesson involves introducing students to tangrams, getting them to create their own set of tangram pieces, and using these to explore. Lesson two gives students the opportunity to compare and sort their tangram pieces according to the number of sides, and classify them by their appropriate name. They also construct various shapes using the tangram pieces. For example, creating a triangle using two shapes etc. In the last lesson, the teacher reads the story Grandfather Tang by Ann Tompert. After this has been completed, the students manipulate their tangram pieces in order to make the objects they have encountered throughout the story. Assessment for all three lessons is provided as well.

The goal of this lesson is for students to determine the area of their tangram pieces without using a particular formula. Students work with their tangram pieces to investigate various scenarios stemming from the first situation: Let’s suppose this square has an area of one square unit. From this, students are required to answer questions similar to the following: Make a square with the two small congruent triangles. What is the area of this square? How do you know? To extend this lesson, the area of the small square can be changed to two square units.



The Midbrain Activation Manual is now being updated as we have had many enthusiastic parents try our book at home at a special price.

Your investment of time and effort will not only profit your child(ren) but help us in our vision of creating a World Without Blindness project. Read more about the PARENTS GUIDE TO MIDBRAIN ACTIVATION


We have seen plenty of evidence of the power of The Midbrain Activation. This is a gift for our future generations and we need your help to promote it worldwide. We have very affordable plans that take your that take into consideration your unique situation.

Please visit our website for more information on this amazing opportunity



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