What Is a Composite Shape ?

composite-shape g_kat26/CC-BY 2.0

A composite shape, also called a composite figure, is a geometric shape constructed from two or more geometric figures. A few examples of shape combinations that can be made to form composite shapes include triangles and rectangles, triangles and squares, squares and rectangles, and triangles and circles.

Mathematical problems involving composite shapes often involve finding either the area or perimeter of the composite shape, or both. Solving this type of problem involves finding the unknowns of the individual shapes in the composite figure and combining them.

Educational tools exist to help children visualize and solve problems involving composite shapes. One such example of a tool designed to teach these concepts is a tangram. A tangram is a set of seven geometric shapes that combine together to form different shapes. Each individual shape is known as a tans. Activities that involve working with tans often ask children to construct figures with each of them that are applicable to what they encounter on a regular basis, based on their age group. For example, children may make animals made of tans and then eventually combine all of their creations to form an entire zoo. Tans may be in black and white or color.