As we grow older, it becomes harder for us to recall how much we used to be emotionally invested in our toys when we were little, and how much joy and thrill they had brought to our childhood. Today we live in a world that is saturated with technologies, neither adults nor children can escape the ever-increasing presence of digital devices. The screens on smart phones and tablets have taken over most of our children’s play time.
But old-fashioned toys have charms that even the latest digital inventions cannot surpass. We would like to present you with an very old and very fun toy so that next time you wonder what to get for your little ones, or how to get them away from their iPads, you will have one more trick up your sleeve.
A puzzle game made up with 7 pieces of wood blocks that are cut out of one big square.
It is one of the most classic toys born out of the Chinese culture. The exact origin of this game is hard to pin down, but it has existed for hundreds of years if not thousands. The goal of the game is to figure out how various shapes can be constructed by using the 7 blocks. The shapes to solve often resemble things such as a bunny, a house or a ship. They are often printed on a sheet of paper that comes with the game; the internet also has a large supply of puzzle shapes. You have to use all 7 blocks with no overlaps between them to form the exact shape of your puzzle goal shape. There are hundreds of known shapes and some of them are mind bending even for adults to work out.
Take a look at the following examples to get a taste of how versatile this game can be. New shapes are created everyday and the game will never run out of puzzles to solve.
With this simple but incredibly clever setup, you can train your child’s ability in recognizing patterns, understanding the relationship between geometrical shapes and how to construct or deconstruct them. You can also join the game to see who might be the first to figure out the puzzle. You might be surprised by how challenging this game can be.
As you may have guessed, in this digital age, just about every game has a on-screen version. Tangram is no exception. One quick search will land you with many variations ready for download. Although we strongly recommend that you get the traditional wood blocks. For one thing, the physical puzzle is much easier to manipulate than the 2D blocks on a tablet screen. But more importantly, the tactile pleasure derived from touching the blocks has no digital substitute, and using hands to interact with the physical environment is also essential to children’s brain development.
So, have fun with your Tangram and for starters, why not try to figure out how to make up the wood blocks version of our Olenimal turtle.
Thomas Preymesser, img_1434, 2005, https://www.flickr.com/photos/thopre/84055339/sizes/l