If you have a kid who likes to fiddle, make patterns, or solve puzzles, get them a set of pentominoes. Pentominoes aren’t expensive and can engage kids (and adults) for hours. A quality set will last a lifetime.
Called “pentominoes” because each piece consists of five square units, they can be combined in a variety of ways. My favorite set is made by Learning Resources and comes with a full set of pentominoes in each of six colors.
What can you do with pentominoes?
- Arrange them together to make large squares or other shapes.
- Spell out words, since the twelve shapes are vaguely shaped like letters.
- Create elaborate “road” systems.
- Read and solve puzzles in the novel Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, which combines mystery, art, puzzles, and fantastic illustrations.
- Teach your kids about symmetry, rotating and reflecting the shapes.
- See how large of an area you can tile solidly with the pentominoes, without any open spaces.
- Using pentominoes that have a full set of several colors, make up games with friends or family.
- Do a puzzle a day in Pentomino Puzzles: 365 Teasers to Keep Your Brain in Shape by Eric Harshbarger.
- Just fiddle. The plastic pieces feel really great in your hand.
What are your favorite activities to do with pentominoes? With such basic shapes, your imagination is your only limitation.