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Butterfly Pentominoes Puzzle

Bring some symmetric puzzling fun to your classroom with this pentomino butterfly puzzle. Can you use a standard set of twelve pentominoes to build the shape of a butterfly?

screenshot of pentominoes butterfly puzzle with photograph of pentominoes puzzle pieces in background

My students have been loving the various animal pentomino puzzles I have posted this year as some of our puzzles of the week.

Puzzle Instructions

The goal of this pentominoes butterfly puzzle is to construct the shape of a butterfly using a standard set of twelve pentominoes. The pentominoes may be flipped or rotated, but they are not allowed to overlap one another.

pentominoes butterfly puzzle printed on 11 x 17 paper with set of 12 plastic pentominoes around it

Most shaped pentomino puzzles only have a single solution. This butterfly puzzle is different because it has two solutions due to its symmetric nature. Of course, the two solutions are just mirror images of each other.

Printing and Prepping the Pentominoes Puzzles

11 x 17 Version

This butterfly pentominoes puzzle is designed to print on 11 x 17 inch paper. I print all of my pentominoes puzzles on 11 x 17 cardstock for extra durability, but regular 11 x 17 copy paper will work just fine as well. (If you don’t have the ability to print on 11 x 17 paper, keep reading for an alternative printing option!)

outline template of pentominoes butterfly puzzle

All of my pentominoes puzzles are sized for plastic pentominoes made up of 1-inch squares.

If you don’t have a class set of plastic pentominoes, I do have a printable version of 1-inch pentominoes available to download and print. Please be aware that you MUST allow students to turn over the printed pentominoes pieces in order to solve the puzzle! This is less obvious than with the plastic pentominoes pieces.


plastic one inch pentominoes in bucket

Amazon offers several brands of plastic pentominoes which I recommend. Each brand is sold in a tub containing six sets of twelve pentominoes each for a total of 72 pentomino pieces.

Want each student to have their own set of pentominoes? I also offer a set of free printable one-inch pentominoes pieces which can be laminated or printed on cardstock for durability.

Letter Sized Version

Since many teachers have told me that they do not have access to a copy machine or printer which prints on 11 x 17 paper, I have also uploaded a letter-sized version below which prints on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. You will have to trim and tape or glue the two letter-sized pages together to form the pentominoes puzzle board.

partially solved pentominoes butterfly puzzle

Hints for Solving the Pentominoes Butterfly Puzzle

Pentominoes puzzles which use an entire set of twelve standard pentominoes can be quite tricky to solve. When I shared the Pentominoes Heart Puzzle for Valentine’s Day, I heard back from numerous teachers that they had students work on the puzzle for over 45 minutes without finding a solution.

set of four hint cards for pentominoes butterfly puzzle

While some students can handle this level of perseverance, other students might benefit from a few hints in solving the puzzle. I have created a set of 4 printable hint cards that can be used with students to give them (or yourself!) a small piece of the solution.

example of pentominoes butterfly puzzle hint card

These butterfly hint cards can be downloaded at the end of this blog post.

There are several ways you can use these printable hint cards in your classroom.

If you are having students work on the puzzle as a full-class activity, you can make the pentomino puzzle hint cards available after students have worked for a certain amount of time.

If you are using the pentominoes puzzles as an early finisher activity or as a puzzle of the week for students to work on in their spare time, you could post the puzzle without any hints on day 1. On each subsequent day, you could add a different hint card.

I look forward to seeing what other ways that teachers come up with to make these hint cards work for their students.

Ideas for Using in Class

I put up this pentomino butterfly puzzle as my puzzle of the week for students to work on if they chose to. Some students grab the puzzle and take it to their tables when they enter the classroom so they have something to work on while waiting for the bell to ring.

Other students will grab one of the puzzles to solve after completing their assignment for the day.

I hung two copies of the puzzle printed on 11 x 17 cardstock on my dry erase board with two sets of plastic pentominoes for students to grab in a magnetic pocket.

I love these magnetic pockets from Charles Leonard (available from Amazon) because students can easily grab the entire pocket of pentominoes and the puzzle and take it back to their desk to solve the puzzle.

This keeps me from having to pass out pentominoes or from students dropping pieces on their way to their desks.

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.

However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.

If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.