Tangrams or Geometric Puzzles

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Students can create their own Geometric, or Tangram-like, puzzles. A classic tangram has 7 pieces (link), but with this template, students can make their own puzzles with as many pieces as they would like to use.

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In the sample photos above, I created a puzzle with 12 pieces. After students have made their puzzles, they can trade puzzles and try to solve them. You can also combine/shuffle 2 puzzles together and try to create one large rectangle, or 4 puzzles together to create one large square.

When coloring in the puzzle, darker colors help hide the grid lines. You can also use the patterns each student has created as a cutting template – glue the template onto a piece of construction paper, cut out the pieces, flip, and use the construction paper side as your puzzle pieces.

Download the puzzle template (Geometric Puzzle Template pdf )

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Cup Stacking Collaboration Challenge

Cup Stacking Challenge

Goal

  • Students will collaborate, problem solve, and persevere to accomplish each challenge

Materials – per group of 3-4 students

  • Task Cards – cut apart, laminate, and secure with a metal ring or brass brad
  • 6 cups
  • 1 rubber band
  • 4-6 pieces of string of equal length

This is one of the team building exercises I plan to use with my 6th graders during the first week of school. Many variations of this lesson can be found online. For this version, I created 6 different challenges for the students to tackle – each one increasing in difficulty. Not every group will get to complete all 6 challenges, and that is OK. The objective is to learn to work together as a team and not give up.

July 26, 2017 – One recommendation I have for this activity is placing the cups on the floor, when the cups fall off the table it makes it more difficult to complete the task in a timely manner.

Updated: Pictures September 2015

Working as a team to complete a task
Working as a team to complete a task
Trying to pick up a cup that fell over.
Trying to pick up a cup that fell over.
Almost done with Challenge #4!
Almost done with Challenge #4!

Discussion & Reflection

  1. Which challenge was the easiest for you group to complete? The most difficult? Why?
  2. Did your techniques change as you advanced to each challenge? Explain why or why not.
  3. Describe a technique that worked best within your group.
  4. Compare using two hands vs. one hand when holding the string to guide the cups. List advantages and disadvantages for each.
  5. Compare using verbal and nonverbal communication, what were some of the challenges your group faced?
  6. If you were to complete this activity again, what would your group do differently? What would you do the same?
  7. Why are collaboration and communication skills important characteristics for scientists to have?
  8. Did you feel like giving up at any point? How did you and your group deal with frustration?