Every time I see my kids’ big container of 11,000 Perler beads sitting on the shelf, I keep thinking that there must be something useful I could make with them. But it also has to look cool and not like I’m looking for an excuse to use these beads (ha!) — so that rules out coasters, bowls, and Christmas ornaments. When I saw these Tetris magnets the other day, I had an “aha!” moment.
So I combined my love of puzzles with my love of crafting and made a functional pentominoes puzzle out of these colorful little melty beads.
Pentominoes look a lot like Tetris shapes, but each piece is made from five squares, rather than four. The pieces of the puzzle are the twelve shapes that can be made by joining five squares together. If you’re making your own, these are the twelve puzzle pieces you will need to make.
The finished size of the puzzle is 2.5×4″, and requires 240 melty beads. I made each square out of four beads, but if you or your child finds that the small pieces are too difficult to work with, you could make larger pieces with nine beads per square. This would use 540 beads and would take much longer to make. You would also need a larger bead tray in order to create the long straight piece. (The standard square tray is 14 pegs long.)
According to this site, the 6×10-square pentominoes puzzle has 2,339 solutions, but coming up with just one of those solutions might be more challenging than you’d expect!
To keep my puzzle to the 6×10 shape, I made a little foam core box for it. I used 3/16″ foam core, which just so happens to be the same depth as the puzzle pieces.
I attached the sides of the tray with craft glue, and then attached the lid to the tray with a couple layers of clear packing tape.
When I was a kid, we had a version of this game called Hexed, and my mom was wise enough to draw off the solution before we took it out of the box the first time. If we couldn’t solve the puzzle, we could always just pull out the solution so we could fit the puzzle back in the box.
I printed off a picture of the completed puzzle and slipped it into a paper sleeve that I glued to the lid of the box. Of course, this is just one of many possible solutions, but it guarantees that my kids will be able to put the puzzle away properly!
Here’s one solution to the puzzle, but there are 2,338 more!
If you make your own pentominoes game, I’d love to see it! Either leave a comment with a link, or send me an email.
And if you want to play but don’t want to create your own game, you can either buy a set (just google “pentominoes”) or play online. Have fun!