These were a quick project- all straight cuts, thin wood. I used a scrap of 3.5″ wide, 1/4″ thick poplar and measured out 3.5″ intervals, making 4 squares. I used two squares for the base of the trays, and cut the classic 7 piece tangrams from the others. Both kids helped me sand down the sharp edges and corners, at least until they were bored. Then they helped me dye them.
We used enough water to cover each set of pieces, a big splash of white vinegar in each container, and food coloring (Ateco Gels- any old brand would work, it’s just what I have in the house). We mixed the dye up with popsicle sticks, carefully (and not so carefully- they are kids 😉 dropped in the pieces, and waited.
About 30 minutes later, I pulled them out (woods take dye so differently that I just check here and there until I’m happy) and set them on paper towels for a minute. I lined a cookie sheet with wax paper and let them dry in the sun through a window.
I used popsicle sticks to fence in the pieces, ends cut off with scissors (my husband’s suggestions- the band and scroll saws were not kind to them- LOL). I left a little gap on one side to make it easier to pull the pieces out, as they fit pretty snugly.
Tangrams have been around so long, there are 100’s of layouts. I still associate them with my pull out GATE class from elementary school- I’m not sure I encountered them anywhere else. But, we did a lot of tangrams in GATE- heh. Love/hate.
They’re really a very smart toy, useful for geometry and math lessons, but, my 3.5yo likes to use the pieces to make funny faces, so there’s a little fun in them, too.
And hey, if all else fails, they’re pretty to look at!