Algorithms with Tangrams

Submitting Organization: INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering @ Purdue University

Grade Level: 1st Grade

Subject Area:  Math

Standards Alignment: Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

1.G.2 Students use algorithms and tangram set pieces (2-D shapes) to create composite shapes. Note: Computer science standards related to computational thinking are also addressed.

Description of the Activity:

  1. Review what tangrams are and the movements (rotate (turn), flip, and move (slide)) used to position shapes.
  2. Review the shape names. Students need to also differentiate the triangles by size.
  3. Have students follow along as you demonstrate how to follow Algorithms 1 and 2. Have them make observations about the results. Point out that you will focus on algorithms that produce the same results.
  4. Allow students to try Algorithms 3 and 4 one at a time.
  5. Have students complete the Develop your Own Algorithm sheet.
  6. Have students state in their own words what they learned.

Discussion Questions:

  • Explain in your own words what we learned today.

Resources Needed:

  • Teacher provided resource:
    • Tangram sets (free printable tangram sets can be found online)
  • Provided resources:

Link to further resources:

Link to FREE integrated STEM + Literacy + Computational Thinking units:;

Organization website with additional resources: