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Make and Eat Cracker Tangrams

Children will use geometric shaped crackers to form larger shapes on homemade pattern cards.

Content Area Standard Target
  • Geometry
  • Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems
  • Sort crackers by shape
  • Copy patterns
  • Use simple cracker shapes to form larger shapes
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • Assorted cracker shapes (circles, rectangles, squares, ovals, triangles and/or, hexagons) - for example, Saltines, Ritz, Graham Crackers, Cheez-its, etc.
  • Bigger bowls to hold crackers before they are sorted
  • Smaller bowls (labeled with individual cracker shapes) for sorting, one for each cracker shape
  • Homemade pattern cards (to scale for cracker sizes) made from tag board pieces


Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Make simple pattern cards before introducing this activity. You can use the pictures in the Mouse Shape Book as an example. For example, you can draw a tree with a triangle the size of a Triscuit Thin Crisp for the leaves and the rectangle trunk the size of a Club cracker and a house with a square frame the size of a Saltine, small square windows the size of Cheese-it crackers and a roof the size of a Triscuit Thin Crisp. Have fun and be creative. Make enough cards so that each child and each adult has one to work with.
  2. Put some of each shaped crackers together in big bowls before you call the children to the table.
  3. Read Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh.
  4. Say: "We are going to make pictures like the ones in the mouse story. But the shapes in our pictures will be made of crackers. Later today we can eat our pictures for snack!  First we need to wash our hands since we will be working with food."
  5. Place the big bowls with the assorted crackers on the table.
  6. Put out as many smaller bowls (each labeled with a different shape) as you have shapes of crackers.
  7. Say: "Before we can build our cracker pictures we need to sort our crackers."
  8. Show the children each bowl, one at a time, and ask them if they recognize the shape picture on the bowl. If they cannot name the shape, name it for them.
  9. Say: "Put the circle crackers in the bowl with the circle, the square crackers in the bowl with the square, etc."
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Say:"We are going to use shapes to build pictures just the way the mice did. But we are going to use shape crackers to make our pictures. Everyone can pick one cracker to eat before we get started. Then we will have to wait until snack time to eat the crackers that are in our pictures."
  2. Pass out one pattern card to each child.
  3. Ask each child to name the shapes on their card before you get started. If a child does not know all of the shapes on their card, see if one of the other children can help them name the shapes.
  4. Place the bowls with the sorted crackers on the table.
  5. Say: "Look at your picture and see what shapes you will need to build your picture. Take one cracker at a time to build your picture."
  6. Move completed cracker pictures to another location until snack time. You can take a photo of each completed board to show the children later.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Triangle – A pointy shape with three sides and three corners (e.g., a slice of pizza is a triangle)       
  • Square – A shape with four straight sides that are the same length or size and four corners
  • Circle – A round shape that has no straight edges or corners (e.g., a wheel is a circle) 
  • Rectangle –A 4-sided flat shape with straight sides where all interior angles are right angles (90°). Also opposite sides are parallel and of equal length. Example: A square is a special type of rectangle.
  • Oval – A stretched out circle that is shaped like an egg
  • Hexagon – A shape with six straight sides and six corners (e.g., a stop sign is a hexagon)

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Want to eat many crackers.
  • Need very simple pictures with only 2 or 3 shapes.
  • Need to eat the crackers in their picture right after making it.


Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Need more complex patterns on their cards.
  • Want blank cards to create their own pictures.


Home child care providers may:

  • Give each child the crackers they will need for their picture card.
  • Make the pattern cards very simple with 2 or 3 shapes.
  • Let the children eat the picture right after they make it.


Home child care providers may:

  • Make complex pattern cards.
  • Give each child a blank card to create their own pattern or picture.


Books Books
  • Mouse Shapes byEllen Stoll Walsh (New York: Harcourt Children’s Books, 2007)
  • The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds (St. Louis, MO: Turtleback, 1996)
  • Grandfather's Shape Story by Brian Sargent (Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 2007)
Music and movement Music and Movement


Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Bring out the giant wooden pattern blocks and let the children combine the shapes to make new shapes. Younger children may combine random shapes while older children may use the blocks to build pictures like they did with the crackers.  
  • Cut out shapes from construction paper that are the same size as those used with the cracker pattern cards.  Let the children sort the shapes in the shape bowls and use the shapes on the pattern cards. They can also use the shapes to create their own pictures on blank paper.


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