Pentominoes are a great, exciting, rewarding activity to develop spatial awareness in your children. I have all grade levels (K-6) work with them.
I always begin with having the children work in pairs. Each pair of children is given 5 tiles and is asked to make as many different shapes as possible-THERE ARE 12 POSSIBLE (edges must match exactly - rotation, flipping is explained so children can see the shapes that may be the same but have been flipped or rotated). As a new shape is discovered, it is traced on graph paper. When all 12 are found by at least one group, have children share shapes so that each group sees all shapes.
Give each pair of children a set of pentominoes. Let them explore for 10 minutes.
Give each pair of students a card with figures to be filled in with pentominoes. As each shape is filled in by the children, teacher checks and signs off the card on the recording sheet. Extra cards are in front of class so children can go up and get the next one.
Recording sheet for pair to be signed off by teacher.
Primary students start off with very easy patterns but quickly progress to more difficult as their spatial awareness is developed.
This activity can extend all year long. I worked with 5th graders and 88 different patterns. We worked once a month and nobody every got tired or completely finished. They were excited about the activity everytime.