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Click here if you are looking for a web based version of the Pentomino Puzzles. Tile Puzzler is Virtu Software's browser based version of PentoMania.

Elementary school students love to play with pentominoes. Not only do they enjoy fitting the shapes into pre-defined figures, they loved to simply sit and create shapes and pictures of their own.

In the elementary classroom, pentominos games are as popular as tangrams and tangram puzzles. But even apart from their popularity, these geometric puzzles are great because of the geometry, mathematics, and problem solving practice they provide.

Now that same capability has been brought to the computer with Virtu Software's first educational software release: PentoMania. Not only can students solve pre-existing pentomino puzzles (such as the one shown here), but they can use the 'edit mode' to design their own puzzles. They will quickly discover that creating their own puzzles is just as challenging as solving someone else's, and just as much fun.

Of course, what the students don't realize is that while they're having so much fun, they're getting a basic introduction to basic transformations: slides, rotations, and reflections. Plus, they'll get some great problem solving experience at the same time.

The user interface is easy and intuitive; click on a pentomino to pick it up from the 'PentoBin' and click again to drop it in place. Right click to rotate, and press space to reflect (flip) the piece.

From a quick examination of the puzzle (called rocket) displayed above, it is obvious that there is space for two of the purple pentominoes (one is already in place, the other fits in the empty space). Unlike a standard pentomino set, PentoMania has an unlimited supply of each kind of pentomino, providing an even greater level of flexibility.

PentoMania puzzles range from extremely simple to terrifically difficult, and for less advanced students, there is an easy mode, in which pentominoes are placed in the 'PentoBin' with the correct orientation, so they don't have to worry about rotating or flipping them. This makes PentoMania a great puzzle game for even very young students.