Are you looking for free resources to use with pentomino pieces? You have come to the right place. We have 29 free pentomino puzzles and challenges that you will love. You can use these different shapes in a variety of ways. They are the perfect tool to explore and tinker with while learning many different Math concepts. We have FREE pentominoes puzzles and challenges to get you started.
Below you will find:
- 15 Pentomino Animal Cards
- 4 Beginner Pentomino Cards using 3 Pieces
- 10 Pentomino Challenges for Kids of All Ages
What are Pentominoes?
Pentominoes are shapes made with 5 squares arranged side to side. The whole side is touching, not corner to corner. There are 12 pentominoes. These shapes had been around in the early 1900s, but in 1953 an American Math professor named Solomon Golomb named them and introduced them. Each specific shape has a letter name (T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z, F, I, L, P, N).
Learning with Pentominoes
Kids of all ages can learn with pentominoes! Exploring pentomino shapes covers many different geometric concepts in the Math framework such as spatial reasoning, tessellations, symmetry, perimeter, and area. Below you will discover different ways to use pentominoes to make learning fun for kids of all ages.
Where to Find Pentominoes
These puzzle pieces remind me of Tetris shapes. Kids love working with them and exploring them. You can print sets of paper pentominoes with a printable rectangular grid, but we like these plastic pentominoes. (affiliate link) This bucket of shapes comes with 6 sets of 12 pentominoes, so enough sets of pentominoes for a group of students (6). These specific pentominoes are made from 1 inch squares.
Give your students time and space to explore these shapes and arrange them in different ways. Some students will try to fit them together without leaving holes. Others will make different designs and objects with them.
You can even explore pentominoes on a felt board. Younger children love to work with the felt board. Print the paper pentominoes and use them as a guide to cut the pieces out of felt. Then, use a flannel board to explore the different shapes and make designs with them.
3 Piece Pentomino Puzzles
Solve a simple 3 piece pentomino puzzle. These pentomino cards have the students find the 3 pieces needed to solve the given pattern. The pieces are facing the direction that they will fit into the puzzle. Print these cards and store them in a binder ring for quick and easy access for students.
Do you and your students love these and want more than 4 cards? You and your students can make your own. Challenge your students to pick any 3 pentominoes. Fit them together. Then, trace the border of the pieces (or trace it for them). Then, exchange cards to challenge each other. There is something exciting about creating your own puzzle to challenge your peers and there are so many different puzzles that can be made. You will have a whole binder filled with this type of puzzles in no time.
Looking for unique gifts that strengthen mathematical thinking? Why not print these puzzle cards and include them with a tub of pentominoes. For younger children, gift a tub of pentominoes and a large piece of felt (from a fabric store) that they can build and create with the pentominoes on.
Download the 3 Piece Pentomino Puzzles
Build pentomino animals. This free resource includes 15 animals. Use our free pentominoes grid cards as a reference on how to build each animal with plastic pentominoes. These cards are smaller than the pentominoes so you’d be referring to and transferring the design next to (or below) the card. Or cut out the printable pentominoes that come with this pentomino animal pack and use those to make each animal.
A storage idea for these pentomino animal cards is to put each answer key and the corresponding pieces that go with the card in a manila envelope or magnetic pockets with the picture on the front. Then, students can grab the animal that they are wanting to build and everything they need is right there to get started.
Download the Pentomino Animal Puzzles
Build Your Own Pentominoes
Have your students cut out 5 squares of equal size. Square sticky notes are also an easy option. Now have them arrange the squares in as many ways as they can with the sides touching. The sides need to be fully touching, not just at the corners. Draw each shape you make with the 5 squares on grid paper. Through this exploration, the student finds the 12 pentomino shapes on their own. This is a fun challenge for pairs of students to work together on.
One Pentomino Challenge
Pick your favorite pentomino shape. What design can you make using only pentominoes of that shape (as many as you want)? Older students can transfer their design to grid paper using colored pencils. Now try two shapes. Make a design using only those two pentomino shapes over and over again. Is your design abstract or did you build something that we know of?
Play a Pentomino game. This game is a 2 player game. Use one set of pentominoes and a rectangle grid. Decide who will go first. Player 1 picks any pentomino and puts it in any spot on the grid. The second player picks up a different pentomino and places it on the grid. The pieces cannot overlap each other. The player that cannot find a spot to fit one of the remaining pentomino, loses. Remember, you can flip or rotate the pieces.
Make tessellation art. Pick one of the pentominoes. Trace it over and over again to create tessellation art. You may need to rotate or flip the pentomino to be successful. Some pentominoes are easier than others to make tessellations with.
Source: Don Steward
Area and Perimeter
Create a unique shape (not a rectangle) using pentominoes. Make sure the shape is without holes. Now ask the specific questions, “What is the area of your shape?” and “What is the perimeter of your shape?”
Original Pentomino Puzzles
The original pentomino puzzle is fitting all 12 pentominoes in a rectangular grid of 60 squares. Remember the pieces can be rotated, flipped, etc. It is a difficult challenge, but it can be done! There are four different grids you can use. Try them all. Each one brings a new challenge.
To have a grid of 60 squares you can use:
- 10 by 6 rectangle
- 12 by 5 rectangle
- 30 by 3 rectangle
- 15 by 4 rectangle
Enjoy these free printables and challenges. Which one will you try first?
Give these pattern block mats a try. They are a fun way to explore symmetry.