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Penguin Pentominoes Puzzle

I was super excited today to share a new penguin pentominoes puzzle with my students as this week’s puzzle of the week. Can you arrange a set of twelve pentominoes to form the shape of a penguin?

penguin pentominoes puzzle

Several students attempted to solve this penguin puzzle over the course of the day, but so far none of my students have been successful. I guess this is a tricky one!

Pentominoes Penguin Puzzle (Partially Solved)

I typically just post my puzzles of the week on the dry erase board and let students attempt to solve them on their own. I don’t direct their attention to the puzzles or require students to participate.

Set of 3 Different Penguin Pentominoes Puzzles on Dry Erase Board

Some students love the puzzles. Others ignore them. I find that when one student in a class gets interested in a puzzle that their excitement is contagious.

Puzzle Instructions

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

Printing and Prepping the Pentominoes Puzzles

I printed three copies of the pentominoes puzzle on 11 x 17 cardstock. Often Amazon will list packages of this cardstock as “used.” This usually just means that the outside packaging has been torn. I am often able to pick these packages up for 50% off as a result.

I printed this penguin puzzle on 11 x 17 paper since the pentominoes I have in my classroom are made up of 1-inch squares. I wanted my students to be able to lay the pentominoes pieces directly over the penguin outline.


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.

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.

I placed each set of pentominoes in a magnetic pocket below the puzzle on the dry erase board. I like this method of displaying the puzzles because students are able to easily grab the pocket of pentominoes and take them back to their desks.

Puzzle Source

I ran across this penguin shaped pentominoes puzzle in Jon Millington’s Pentominoes: Puzzle shapes to make you think which was published by Tarquin in 1987. It was listed as part of a Pentazoo puzzle challenge.

There were several other animal outlines, but they were too large to fit on my 11 x 17 cardstock. I need to come up with a way to accommodate larger sized puzzles.

Penguin Pentominoes Puzzle with Set of Red Pentominoes

I was able to check out a copy of this book virtually from the Internet Archive’s Free Online Lending Library. You will need to make a free account to access the book.

Partially Solved Penguin Pentominoes Puzzle

I decided the penguin puzzle would make a perfect winter-themed pentominoes puzzle. My students were growing tired of the 13 Free Printable Pentominoes Puzzles I shared earlier, so it was time to try something new.

You might have noticed that I used the same Pentominoes Challenges Poster I created to hang above the puzzles since these are just a different sort of pentominoes challenge.

Student Attempt at Solving Penguin Pentominoes Puzzle

Hints for Solving the Pentominoes Penguin Puzzle

Pentominoes puzzles which use an entire set of twelve standard pentominoes can be quite tricky to solve.

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.

pentominoes penguin hint cards

These 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.

Pentominoes Penguin Hint Cards (PDF) (1136 downloads )

Pentominoes Penguin Hint Cards (Editable Publisher File ZIP) (744 downloads )

If you are enjoying these pentominoes puzzles, be sure to check out my 13 Free Printable Pentominoes Puzzles, the Frog Pentomino Puzzle, and the Star Pentominoes Puzzle.

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.