Panda Squares & Truchet Tiles



Introduction: Panda Squares & Truchet Tiles

About: I've been a teacher/learner/maker of Math since 1994. I am also a Milken National Educator & NYS Master Teacher Emeritus. Lover of family, music, DIYing, and the great outdoors. Life is good! Also please …

Panda Squares is a puzzle made popular by David Butler, Coordinator of the Maths Learning Center at the University of Adelaide. The object of the puzzle is to arrange the 16 tiles in a 4x4 grid, such that the colors of adjacent tiles match. You can read more about the Panda Squares here.

Truchet Tiles are square tiles with designs that are not rotationally symmetric, but can be arranged in simple but elegant patterns. You can read more about Truchet Tiles here.

This Instructable combines both of these into a compact set that can be used to play, explore, discover and design.


Graph paper



Paper cutter


Glue Stick

Card Stock (black and white - 1 sheet each)

Step 1: Finding the Panda Squares

In my Geometry class, I asked the students to draw a 2x2 square on graph paper. Then they labeled the four quadrants, beginning with the upper right and rotating counter-clockwise.

Then they were asked to find all of the possible 2x2 squares that are possible, such that 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 quadrants are completely shaded.

This will yield the 16 Panda Squares.

Step 2: Cutting the Squares

Using a paper cutter or scissors, trim the 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of card stock to measure 8" x 10". Then cut the sheets into 2"x2" squares.

Step 3: Making the Panda Squares

To make the Panda Squares with 1 and 3 quadrants shaded, fold a black square into 1/4ths. Cut and remove one quadrant. Glue the black pieces onto two white squares. Repeat for the other Panda Squares with 1 and 3 quadrants shaded.

To make the Panda Squares with 2 quadrants shaded, fold and cut the black squares and glue onto the white squares.

Step 4: The Panda Squares

You should now have 16 Panda Squares. Refer to the graph paper drawing in Step 1!

Step 5: How to Play With the Panda Squares

Start with two squares. Place them side by side so that the colors match along the edges.

Then move to four tiles. Again, make sure the colors match along the edges!

Build your way up to a 4x4 grid of the Panda Squares, again making sure the colors match along the edges.

The last photo shows one of many possible solutions.

Pay a visit to David Butler's blog post about the Panda Squares for more investigations of this puzzle.

Step 6: Adding the Truchet Tiles on the Back Side

Now cut the remaining black card stock squares in half along the diagonal. Glue these on the back side of the Panda Squares.

Step 7: Designing With the Truchet Tiles

Use the Truchet Tiles to design geometric patterns. Many of the patterns that can be designed have line and/or rotational symmetry. The patterns are also used in quilt designs.

Step 8: Storage of the Square Tiles

Secure the Panda Squares / Truchet Tiles in a Ziplock Bag. Play! Explore! Design! Discover!

Thanks so much for checking out this project! If interested check out this Twitter thread about the Panda Squares, and this Twitter thread about the Truchet Tiles.

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