Have you ever played Tangram?  I love that game!

Considered the original Chinese Puzzle, it consists of 7 geometric shapes that are all cut from one square.  Here’s a short description from Wikipedia:

The tangram is a dissection puzzle consisting of seven flat shapes, called tans, which are put together to form shapes. The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette) using all seven pieces, which may not overlap. It was originally invented in China at some unknown point in history, and then carried over to Europe by trading ships in the early 19th century. It became very popular in Europe for a time then, and then again during World War I. It is one of the most popular dissection puzzles in the world.

I wasn’t exposed to Tangram untillafter I got married.  I sold Discovery Toys for a short time.  As a young Mom, I wanted educational toys that would teach my children something in the process of playing with them.  A version of Tangram was available as part of my display set.  It’s just black plastic pieces in the 7 shapes along with a booklet with all the puzzle shapes to form with the pieces.  There’s also a section in the back of the book that showed you how they went together, in case you couldn’t figure it out or needed a cheat sheet.

A couple of years ago, my kids gave me a version of Tangram that has enough pieces for 4 players to have their own puzzle and compete against each other to see who can finish first.  Most of my kids don’t like playing against me.  Oh, don’t get me wrong…. I’m not a complete wiz at it….  but I can ‘see’ where the pieces go quite often,  which gives me a head start on them.

The newest versions of Tangram are available on your smart phones and iPads.  I guess you would call them a ‘digital’ version. There’s also some online versions too.   These are my favorite versions to play because the ‘silhouette’ of the picture that you are trying to piece together is the same size as the puzzle pieces so you can over lay them on the silhouette.  It’s much easier to see where the pieces go that way.  The older board game versions just have a small picture to look at and you lay the pieces out in front of you trying to match the silhouette.  When the picture and the pieces are on the same scale, it’s a whole different ballgame!

I love playing Tangram because it causes you to think.  I would consider it among one of the great mind games.  Now my husband would say Sudoku was the best game in that category.  Though I’ve played Sudoku a little…. I prefer Tangram.  It’s a different kind of thinking.  I think it involves being a little more visual.  I’ve always been able to ‘see’ things the way they could be.  I guess that’s part of being creative, I guess.

The other day when I was out visiting my Mom, I had my iPad with me.  I started playing Tangram (called TanZen on the iPad) while I was waiting for her laundry to get done.  She asked what I was doing, so I moved over closer to her and showed her the game.  I played one game showing her how to move the pieces in place on the screen.  The next game I would move a piece and then ask her where she thought one of the pieces would fit.  She was fascinated by the whole process and quite enjoyed moving a few pieces around on the screen.  It was almost like teaching a child to play!

After I came home that night, I told my husband about the experience and said that I thought if she had something like that around it would get her mind thinking.  She does so much sitting around doing nothing.  Just staring at the wall.  She hardly ever has the TV on, which is fine…. but I would love to give her something to stimulate her mind.

So, now I have a project.  I want to take my old Discovery Toy version and blow up the silhouette pictures so that the puzzle pieces can be overlaid on top.  It won’t be an electronic version…. but it would give her something to fiddle with and I think she might enjoy it.  I really think she could use that mind stimulation.  Even if she is almost 90!  Perhaps that’s more of a reason to do it!  If anyone is aware of a non-electronic version of Tangram that has the silhouettes and the puzzles pieces to scale…. let me know!  It will save me a lot of time!  Yes, I know….. I should just buy her an iPad… but that’s a little out of the budget right now!

I’m grateful for Tangram.  I don’t play it often, but when I do, I find it very relaxing!  I’m grateful for the challenge I now have to get a copy of it to my Mom to give her mind something to do!

I am Grateful!  How are you?


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