TangramTeambuilding Game Activity Guide (downloadable file)

A workhorse of a teacher's guide to improving communication.

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The Tangram Facilitator Guide by Tom Heck offers lesson tips for a 30-60 minute exercise. Includes comprehensive lesson plan and a template for creating a Tangram participant puzzle.

A Tangram is an ancient Chinese puzzle made up of seven shapes: five triangles, a square, and a parallelogram. This game activity, developed by Leadership Coach Tom Heck, teaches positive communications and management skills and the importance of coaching. It's a wonderful exercise that requires creativity, group problem solving, and resource management. It can be offered again and again over the course of a year to the same group because there is infinite number of puzzles (silhouettes).

Here's how the activity works:

  • Set up the challenge: lay all the tangram pieces on the floor, inside a rope or tape boundary
  • Set up the premise: a freight train derailed, leaving a large container of hazardous gas broken (the tangrams); Teams must reconstruct the container to seal the leak. How long will it take your teams to reconstruct the tank, looking only at the silouhette of what it should look like.
  • Set up the rules/restrictions: Due to the fumes, only one person can enter the danger zone at a time, and only for as long as they can hold their breath.

A Tangram complete set can be almost any size, from pieces small enough to fit in your hand, to pieces as large as a sheet of plywood. For the purposes of the “Gas Leak” activity (the “Basic” activity described in this guide), you can purchase a tangram set or build a set out of a two foot by four foot piece of heavy duty fabric or vinyl.

This game works well with 12-15 people.

Supervisors and subordinates who take part in the activity come to realize the benefits of communication, coaching and teamwork.

Tom Heck is the president and founder of the International Association of Teamwork Facilitators (www.IATFconnect.com).