When my oldest son was in 4th grade, we started a mom and child book group with a great group of kids who all went to different schools. This was a great way for us to get together on a regular basis so we could talk about books and reconnect with one another.
One of the first books we read was “Chasing Vermeer” by Chicago’s very own Blue Balliett. According to her website…
When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one — neighbors, parents, teachers — is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem-solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has left even the FBI baffled?
One of the tools the children in the book use to solve the mystery is a set of Pentominoes. This book is not meant for very young children, but I would highly recommend it for 3rd-6th graders.
You can also see that each of the shapes also corresponds to a letter of the alphabet. Using those clues, you can help children identify each shape using its corresponding letter. Once we got our first set of Pentominoes, my kids and I would find these shapes all over if we simply looked around. Think bathroom floor tiles and patterns in crossword puzzles.
I found this great website written by an avid fan of Pentominoes.