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Did Vermeer explore the challenges of pentominoes?  
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Instructional Objectives:

1. Students will explore the challenge of “pentominoes”.

2. Students may play with pentominoes online by visiting the following websites:




3. Students get a “hands on” feel to actually experience what the characters in the book were doing.

4. Working in groups, in math class students will solve pentomino puzzles.


Time Required: Day 11. 40-minute period

Advanced Preparation: Teacher, along with cooperation of math teacher, previews pentomino interactive websites such as http://math.clemson.edu/~rsimms/java/pentominoes/index2.html


Materials: prepared worksheets, checkerboard, several sets of 12 pentomino pieces made using wood square, cardboard, or construction paper.


Vocabulary: - http://creativecrafthouse.com/pentominoes.html



1. While listening to a book review excerpt, students will prepare to solve the “pentomino code.” (downloadable pdf worksheet)

Chasing Vermeer in a day

“I highly recommend this book I personally could not put it down it had perfect descriptions of every character which made it very imaginative which is very good I also loved the illustrations because I am a huge Snicket fan and Brett Helquist did this book and the Snicket series which I found very outstanding and in this book there is little pentominoes in this story and in every illustration you have to find a little shape which I believe is very creative and wants the reader to go on any way buy this book it's worth every penny.”

2.  Give students a worksheet with this info:

A pentomino is an arrangement of 5 unit squares (or sometimes cubes) that are joined along their edges. Up to isomorphism (rotating and flipping), there are 12 possible shapes, which are illustrated below. Each piece is labeled by the letter that most accurately reflects its shape.





















































































































3.  If possible, project this web site and explore the question posed in this applet:



4) Play a game using a checkerboard and the 12 pentomino pieces (sized appropriately). Two players play by alternately placing one of the pentominoes on the board. The loser is the player who cannot place a piece, either because there are no more pieces or there is no room left on the board.

Thought provoking questions might be:

1.      What did you learn playing this game?

2.      What is the minimum number of moves the game can last?

3.      What's the maximum?

4.      What does MATH have to do with ART?  


Homework: Bring in results of pentomino puzzles you have solved online or in math class.


Pentominoes have been around since the turn of the last century. They were thrust into popularity in 1957 when journalist Martin Gardner wrote about them in Scientific American. From then on, they have been a popular strategy-based puzzle for teachers and families.

A pentomino is a flat shape made of five wooden squares that touch one or more of their neighboring pieces on one to four sides. It's kind of a convoluted definition, but it's a great puzzle that players of all ages can master. The object of the puzzle is to rearrange the pieces into different shapes or challenges.

A great puzzle for teachers and students, pentominoes will teach your students the analytical thinking required to solve problems that don't have linear answers. The great thing about this game is that it will always last from five to 12 moves and can never result in a draw.

For more information, try this site.

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