Grandfather Tang's Story
by Ann Tompert
In this story within a story, Grandfather Tang and Little Soo use tangrams to illustrate the lively adventures of two shape-changing fox fairies.
Resources for Grandfather Tang's Story:
Full Book Review (English)
Full Book Review (Spanish)
Brief Book Review (English)
Brief Book Review (Spanish)

Can you make each of the animals in Grandfather Tang’s Story with a set of tangrams? Can you create your own tangram characters and write a story about them?


Math Connections: Use this book to introduce:

    Geometric Shapes        Size



Activities to do Together:

  • Learn to recognize triangles, squares, and parallelograms.

  • Compare the tangram shapes. How are they similar? How are they different?

  • Arrange tangram pieces to represent different shapes and objects.

  • Find your own way to make each of the animals in the story with tangram pieces.

  • Make a square using all seven of the tangram pieces. Try making a rectangle, pentagon, and a hexagon too.

  • Can you make a square with six tangram pieces, five tangram pieces, four tangram pieces, three tangram pieces, two tangram pieces, and one tangram piece. Find out and show someone else what is possible and what is not.

Extension Questions: 

  1. A set of tangrams has seven pieces. How many pieces are triangles? How are the triangles different? How are the triangles the same?

  2. Which of the tangram pieces are not triangles? How do you know that they aren’t triangles? Do you know the names of the shapes that are not triangles? (Square (rhombus) and parallelogram) How are the square and parallelogram different? How are they the same? How would you describe these shapes to another person?

  3. There are ten animals in this story: two foxes, a dog, a goldfish, a hawk, a turtle, a goose, a rabbit, a lion, and a crocodile. Which animals are alike? Why? Which animals are different? Why? Sort the animals into groups of flying animals versus non-flying animals. What other ways can you sort these animals? Sort the animals your way and ask someone to guess how you sorted them.

  4. What shapes can you make with your tangram pieces?

  5. Which of these shapes can you make with all or some of your tangram pieces? Square, Pentagon, Rectangle, Hexagon, Circle, Triangle, Octagon? What other shapes can you make?

Vocabulary for Building Math Concepts: 

above, beside, between, bigger, bottom, closer, different, edge, many, middle, moments later, same, smaller, straight, together, toward

California Early Math Project 2020