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13 Free Printable Pentominoes Puzzle Challenges

My students have been LOVING these free printable pentominoes puzzle challenges that I have posted this week on the dry erase board in my high school math classroom. Even though I am using them with high school students, they are suitable for almost all ages!

photograph of pentominoes puzzle challenges on dry erase board in classroom

What are Pentominoes?

Pentominoes is a special name given to the set of polygons formed by connecting five squares along their edges. There are twelve distinct pentominoes that can be formed in this manner.

twelve different pentomino shapes

In fact, having students determine the number of pentominoes that exist can be a great way to introduce students to pentominoes.

I have heard of teachers giving students grid paper and having them find and draw all of the possible pentomino configurations. Then, students cut out the resulting pentominoes to create their own set of puzzle pieces that can be used to solve the following pentominoes puzzles.

Buying Pentominoes

If you plan on doing lots of activities with pentominoes, I highly suggest buying a set of plastic pentominoes for your classroom. You can buy them in a bucket on Amazon that contains six sets of pentominoes. The plastic pentominoes are made up of 1-inch squares and are very sturdy.

Most plastic pentominoes that you will purchase will come in a bucket with six different sets of pentominoes (72 pentominoes in total). My husband and I actually ended up splitting one of these sets. I have three sets in my high school math classroom, and he has three sets in his middle school math classroom.

If you are not ready to invest in a set of pentominoes just yet, I have a free set of printable pentominoes available to download in PDF form at the bottom of this post!

Pentominoes Puzzle Challenges

Last semester, my students really enjoyed solving (or at least trying to solve) the Star Pentominoes Puzzle. I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to create some more pentominoes challenges for my students.

I’ve also received a few emails from teachers saying that their students were really struggling with the star puzzle. So, I wanted to create a free resource for teachers that could introduce students to pentominoes in a much less challenging way.

When I discovered an entire chapter’s worth of pentominoes puzzles in Gyles Brandeth’s The Complete Puzzler, I knew that they would make the perfect set of challenges for my students.

I typed up thirteen of the challenges and printed the pentomino puzzles four-to-a-page so I could easily laminate the individual challenges and cut them out.

four pentominoes puzzles printed on sheet of letter sized paper

Originally, I planned to laminate the challenge cards and hole punch each card in the corner so I could place them on a binder ring.

I visualized students grabbing the ring of pentominoes puzzles and taking it back to their desks. Then, students would be able to flip over the card for a new challenge after solving each puzzle.

The only problem was that I didn’t have any binder rings, and I was too impatient to wait for some to be shipped from Amazon.

Instead, I ended up using some magnetic clips that I purchased to use to post my Puzzle of the Week on the dry erase board.

pentominoes puzzles hanging on dry erase board with individual magnets

I decided my new display was missing something, so I ended up creating an 11 x 17 poster to hang above the challenges.

poster that reads pentominoes challenges with images of twelve different shapes of pentominoes

To complete my new puzzle display, I took three of my magnetic pockets and placed them next to the puzzles to hold individual sets of plastic pentominoes.

dry erase board in high school math classroom featuring puzzles for students to solve

As you can see from my dry erase board, I absolutely LOVE these pockets. I bought a package of six of them this summer, and I soon discovered that six was not enough. So, I ended up buying a second package.

I love that my students can grab the magnetic pocket and take it to their desks while working on the puzzles. Then they can pack up the puzzle pieces and return the pocket to the board when they are done.

I also use the magnetic pockets to hold Strimko Puzzle booklets for students to grab and work on during their free time as well as a book of mazes that have been a big hit with students recently.

student solution to pentomino puzzle

So far, these puzzles have been a huge hit with my students. One of my puzzle-loving students has already completed 10 of the 13 challenges in the past week!

student solution to pentomino puzzle

List of Puzzles

Here are the thirteen pentominoes puzzles shared by Gyles Brandeth in The Complete Puzzler. I had a look through several other puzzle books mentioning pentominoes, and I found that these types of challenges were quite standard.

  1. Use three pentominoes to form a 3 x 5 rectangle.
  2. Use four pentominoes to form a 4 x 5 rectangle.
  3. Use five pentominoes to form a 5 x 5 square.
  4. Use six pentominoes to form a 3 x 10 rectangle.
  5. Use six pentominoes to form a 5 x 6 rectangle.
  6. Use seven pentominoes to form a 5 x 7 rectangle.
  7. Use eight pentominoes to form a 4 x 10 rectangle.
  8. Use nine pentominoes to form a 3 x 15 rectangle.
  9. Use all twelve pentominoes to form a 6 x 10 rectangle.
  10. Use all twelve pentominoes to form a 5 x 12 rectangle.
  11. Use all twelve pentominoes to form a 4 x 15 rectangle.
  12. Use all twelve pentominoes to form an 8 x 8 square with a 2 x 2 hole in the center. 
  13. Use all twelve pentominoes to form an 8 x 8 square with the four corners missing.

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not share solutions to the puzzles I feature on my website because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are not 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 sarah@mathequalslove.net with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.

Nancy in Indiana

Friday 28th of January 2022

I love pentominoes! I did some of the letter shape puzzles with my German students last year as a brain break, and a lot of them got really into it. I hope to be back in the classroom in some form next year so I can puzzle with students again.