Children learn in a wide variety of ways and combining several activities to demonstrate a concept is the most effective method of making a point that they’ll remember.
And let’s face it – kids love a celebration. Presenting something as a unique and exciting occasion instead of another run-of-the-mill learning experience creates curiosity and interest that can lead to lasting learning.
Take advantage of all the above by transforming March 14th into a memorable mathematical event by throwing a Pi Day party.
Pi is a mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter “π” and is approximately equal to 3.14159, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. As an irrational number, pi has an infinite number of digits and will always be an approximation, regardless of the number of decimal places we calculate.
Pi offers an interesting opportunity to demonstrate the consistency and structure of math, its presence in our everyday lives, and the intrigue in an ever-present equation with an endless string of numbers in its answer.
Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 of each year, in honor of its first three numerals: 3, 1, and 4. Introduce the following learning activities to create some excitement around this fascinating mathematical concept that has been in use for over 4,000 years.
Pass out round paper plates and colored pencils or markers and challenge students to begin writing the numbers of pi, starting at the outside edge of the plate and spiraling inwards. Encourage different color patterns to add artistic flair and see who can fit the most numbers on their circle of pi.
Ask students to brainstorm how pi factors into their own lives. If they play sports, perhaps it appears in the shape of the ball they play with, or if they like to bake, perhaps the shape of their goods reflects it. Ask them to write and deliver a short speech that explains the presence of pi in their hobbies, activities, or interests.
A little bit of friendly competition can be an effective motivator. Challenge students to memorize pi to as many places as they can. Either have them write it down or stand up to recite it. Review helpful tips for memorization before starting this project for even more educational benefits.
Get 10 different colors of paper and cut each piece into thin strips, creating a pile for each color category. Assign each digit from 0-9 to a corresponding color. Have students make a paper chain that represents pi.
For instance, if three were represented by green, one by white, and four by blue, the first three links would be green, white, and blue. Continue the sequence based on color for as long as you can. This is a great activity to collaborate on with other classrooms.
Invite each student to bring in a round object, such as coffee cans, lids, pie tins, plates, CDs, etc. Have the kids in your class measure the diameter and circumference, and then divide the circumference by the diameter for a result that should be close to 3.14 each time. For extra fun, measure round food items and enjoy them once calculations are complete.
Bring math, art, and fashion together by creating tie-pi t-shirts. Have students draw the pi symbol on plain t-shirts with fabric markers or paints. Then, ball the t-shirts up and wrap them with rubber bands before submerging them in bins of different color fabric dye. This is a great activity to get everyone excited for Pi Day as it approaches, and then invite them to wear their creations to the Pi Day party.
Have students write a version of a haiku-inspired piece of poetry about a round object of interest. The poems should be three lines, composed of three, one, and four syllables each. Enjoy a pi poetry reading during a pepperoni pi pizza party for maximum enjoyment.
Teaching one concept in a way that covers art, language, science, math, and fun allows for an in-depth exploration that will appeal to every learning style and personality type. Pi is worthy of its holiday, and having your students participate in a celebration of a mathematical concept is fun for everyone involved. Circle March 14 on your calendar and have a very happy Pi Day.
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