Let Your Child Be An Expert In Mathematics With Tangram Puzzles

Tangrams long

Tangram is a 7-piece puzzle with geometric shapes called “tans”. It originated in China and has become popular in the early 1800’s in the Western world.

The tans are made up of 2 large right triangles, 1 medium right triangle, 2 small right triangles, 1 square, and 1 parallelogram. These pieces should be arranged in such a way that the pieces do not overlap and must touch each other. The tans can be rearranged in a number of ways to create silhouette patterns of geometric figures or different shapes of animals, objects, or people. This is why tangrams are incorporated in mathematics because they are fun, interesting, and educational.


Studies show that kids, even preschool children, can easily learn and be proficient in mathematics. The 2 important areas that the children need to learn are number and geometry. Children learn faster and effectively through play and a tangram is one of the best tools that your child can use.

The kids are able to learn mathematical concepts of fractions, spatial sense, geometry, and perimeter. Spatial sense is one’s awareness of his/her surrounding and the objects in them. A strong sense of spatial relationships can develop a child’s understanding of number and measurement.

Tangrams help children learn through a hands-on and minds-on attack in a problem-solving environment the children can explore and manipulate the pieces and try to solve how to arrange them correctly to create a meaningful shape. The children can also learn the relationship of shapes and how the 3 basic shapes – triangle, square, and parallelogram – fit together to form other figures.

Tangrams are a great way to learn mathematics because the children find it interesting. They also tend to create their own designs enhancing the imagination skills. It encourages the child to take risks because the child knows that there is more than 1 correct way of doing it.

Children are naturally curious, so solving a puzzle like tangram can arouse curiosity, hence they will be engaged in the activity.

You can get your child started with Tangrams with our GrowUpSmart Tangram Puzzle right here!

Algebra For Beginners Using Chess Pieces

Chess piece values

We prepared a set of fun math exercises inspired by the way pro chess players calculate every possible move during a game. Download these fun, free math exercises and introduce your child to the point system of chess, while getting a first stab at algebra.

You probably know that chess players often sacrifice their own pieces in a game, if they stand to win one or more of the opponent’s pieces in the process.
But did you also know that they use a specific point system to help them assess whether the exchange of pieces will leave them in a better or worse position?

Each chess piece has its own point value indicating the strength of the piece, so by comparing the point value of the pieces they stand to win to the point value of the pieces they stand to lose, they can make a quick decision as to whether to pursue this option versus other options. This obviously involves thinking several moves ahead. So they might decide to sacrifice two of their own pieces in exchange for just one of the opponent’s pieces, if the combined point values of the pieces still fall in their favor.

Experienced chess players have probably internalized these calculations to a point, where they instinctively know whether a certain move would be beneficial or not. But anyone new to chess will need to consciously do this math as they are considering their next move.

Doing math with a non-numeric object could be compared to a very simple type of algebra. Granted, the “objects” have constant (and not variable) values, but the notion of solving math problems by assigning a number value to an object requires a small shift in thinking to the untrained mind not unlike that needed for understanding the basic principles of algebra. It introduces an obstacle that can bring the mind’s internal calculator out of its comfort zone until it has become familiar with this simple point system.

In reality there are different theories about which point values that most accurately express the strength of each chess piece, but hey, this is not an article on chess theory. The most widespread method goes back to the 18th century and can be described as the 1/3/3/5/9 system, which indicates the values assigned to the chess pieces.

Note: The king is normally not assigned a value, since the game ends if the king is captured anyway.

Based on the point values of chess pieces above, we created 24 simple addition and subtraction exercises with a chess twist. They are a great way to challenge a young mind with the added benefit of sneaking in basic chess knowledge. So if your kid turns out to be the World’s next great chess master, please remember where it all started.

To download a printable PDF with these free exercises, please click the image below:

Play Battleship On Your Chessboard – Here’s How…

Battleship example

You probably know the classic game of Battleship, where two players take turns firing shots at “ships” that each player secretly places within their “territory”.
The game encourages the players to think strategically and logically and is a great way for kids to learn how to use a coordinate system.

A while ago, I was looking at a chessboard, and I wondered if it would be possible to use the 8×8 coordinate system of this game for playing Battleship. I mean, you have a perfectly good coordinate system right there.
I just had to figure out how to tweak the rules to fit the physical limitations of a chessboard. In the classic game of Battleship, each player has one coordinate system for placing his ships and a different coordinate system for keeping track of his shots. So in fact, I would need to boil four coordinate systems down to one. Hmmm…

I quickly figured out that I would need to divide the chessboard in two halves – one for each player. This shrinks the number of coordinates in the game to 8×4 per player, but I think that might even be good for young, new players of the game. It makes the game faster to play, but still encourages the same strategic and logical thinking.

I tried a couple of variations with chess pieces used as ships and a book placed in the middle of the board to prevent the players from seeing the opponent’s half.
At first, I thought this was a brilliant idea and a good use of the chess game. However, I soon realized that this idea didn’t quite work. It was hard to keep track of your own shots, especially because the coordinates on the two halves are obviously not the same. Therefore, when I fired a shot at say D7, I had to convert that to D2 on my half of the board. That was not very useful, so back to the drawing board…

I finally reached the conclusion that the best way to boil all the information from four coordinate systems used by a traditional battleship game into one single chessboard, would be to turn the game in to a, well, board game.
So here it is: The GrowUpSmart Battleship game.


Each player gets 32 cards (see further down how to make these for free) with the following designations:

  • 23 “miss” cards
  • 4 “battleship” cards
  • 3 “submarine” cards
  • 2 “patrol boat” cards

Each player places all the cards facing down on his side of the chessboard.

He can place the four “ships” anywhere he wants, but he must place the cards of each ship next to each other either vertically or horizontally like in this example:


On all other squares, he places the “miss” cards.

You might want to place something to block the view between the two halves of the board while setting up the game. You could e.g. use a large (but slim) book or a piece of cardboard.

When both players have placed all their cards, the board should look like this and you are ready to play:

Ready to play Battleship

Playing the game

Decide who goes first. Let’s call him Player 1.
Player 1 starts by firing a shot at Player 2’s side of the board by calling out a coordinate. Player 2 turns the called card around and reveals whether this is a hit or a miss.

Now the turn goes to Player 2 and he takes a shot at Player 1’s ships. When a player hits a ship, the card reveals the type of ship and therefore how big it is.

The players must now use their logical sense to seek out and sink all the opponent’s ships.

The winner is the first player to sink all his opponent’s ships.

The Salvo variation

You can also play another variation of the game know as Salvo. The basic rules are the same as above, but in Salvo, each player fires three shots on every turn. If you lose a ship, you also lose a shot on your next turn. Therefore, if you lose one ship, you only get two shots when you fire your next salvo and if you only have one ship left, you can only fire one shot for the rest of the game.

Creating the battleship cards

You can create these cards yourself by cutting out 64 squares of paper or carton and draw the different ships on one side.

Or you could just download the file we prepared with all the cards you need. All you need to do is print it and cut out the cards.

The thicker paper you use, the better. It should obviously not be possible to see through the paper.

Enjoy 🙂

Click the image below to download your own printable Battleship cards and rules.

5 Free Memory Games You Can Play Without A Computer


The game of Memory is a classic game that I always enjoy playing with my children. As soon as they learned a few basic tactics about playing the game, they started to beat me more often than not. The pleasure of seeing them excel in this type of game, beats my own slight disappointment in myself.

The game really puts your working memory to the test. How well can you remember the position of the cards on the table and how many cards can you juggle in your memory simultaneously?

While practicing focused attention and short term memory, the game can also be used to learn new material. Imagine if the cards you match is not based on two duplicate images, but rather on questions and answers that you had to match up. So in order to match a pair of cards, you would need to know the right answers to the right questions.

This is a fun way to add new knowledge to your child’s or even your own long-term memory. If you play the same game every day for several days, you would be applying the principles of spaced repetition and recall, which are some of the most popular techniques that neuroscientists recommend for retaining new information for the long term. All while having fun.

So regardless of age group and subject, you or your child can benefit from playing your own custom game of memory depending on what subject you want practice.

However, we want to make it easy for you to get started, so we have prepared a few games of Memory for your free download.

Flags of the World Memory game


Learn the flags of many countries from around the World. We made a few different sheets to allow you to play different variations of the game:

Sheet 1: Cards, where the name of the country is printed below each flag. You can print this sheet in two copies to get a full memory game.
Sheet 2: This sheet only has pictures of the flags
Sheet 3: This sheet only has the name of the countries.

So use sheets 2 and 3 to learn flags from around the World or test your existing knowledge. Use sheet 1 for checking your answers.

Alphabet Memory game


The alphabet is one of the first things we expect young school children to memorize. Not only do they have to learn the different letters, but they also have to memorize the uppercase and lowercase variations of each letter.
This memory game practices these two letter variations along with a few of the most common punctuation marks.

Occupation Memory game


This Memory game is meant to be played in the classic Memory style, where players must remember the position of two identical cards.
The theme of the game is different occupations. These cards can make great talking points with young children about different occupations and activities.

Color Memory Game

If you want to take your memory game up a notch, try this one, which is using the same shape on all cards, but with different colors. This is guaranteed

These Memory game cards are also meant for playing in the traditional style. The theme of this game is everyday items. As an added learning point, try to find synonyms with your child for the objects on the cards. What different words can you find that describes these objects. Great exercise for expanding the vocabulary.

DIY Memory game


Draw or write your own matching cards with this memory card template. It saves you the hassle of setting this up on the computer. Just print the PDF, cut out the ready-made squares and make you own matching cards of whatever you want to remember.

The Chessboard Twist

As we have covered extensively in other posts, we think that all homes should have a good chess game and we love to come up with new ideas for how to use the chess board for all kinds of games and activities.

The game of Memory is no different. If you have a decent size chessboard, you can place the memory cards on the chessboard and this way ensure that the cards do not shift positions during the game. This helps keeping the game organized and it reinforces the “coordinate system thinking” that characterizes the Memory game.

You can download all PDFs above by following this link.