Pi Day – Math Holiday Celebration!

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 6, 2014  in: Engagement, fun, Math, party, pi day, ratio

PieDayOur favorite math holiday is coming up next week.  It’s time to plan a party for your math students. Mathematicians have decided that 3.14 or March 14 is pi day – a day to celebrate math. 

I teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  They love pi day, even if they don’t fully understand the concept of pi.  It’s a party in math class! 

There are many options for the pi day party, and how you celebrate depends on your students’ ages as well as your own interest.  A few of my favorites are:

  • Dress up!  At least wear polka-dots if not a full pi day costume.  Kids love that.  Encourage your students to dress up too.
  • If your school allows food, bring pies in to class.  (We can only have healthy snacks, so I ask my students to bring in fruit that can be made into a pie.  We don’t make pies, but they get the idea.)
  • Sing pi day songs: This sing-a-long is a classic that your students will love. 
  • Visit this pinterest board for posters to decorate your class. 
  • Look at websites that include fun activities for your class:  Joy of pi,  Teach pi and The Exploratorium 
  • Read books such as the Sir Cumference series by Cindy Neuschwander.  These are always a fun addition to a pi day party.
  • I teach my students the definitions of radius, diameter, circumference, chord.  They label those on a drawing of a circle.  Some of them have this background knowledge, but some do not.  They all need the vocabulary of pi. 
  • I bring in lids from all sizes of containers.  Students use string to measure the circumference of the lid and use rulers to measure the diameter.  They make tables of their data and find pi (or an approximation of pi) with their own measurement data.  This is another way to show your students real life ratios.  The discussion is rich as they notice their “pi” is not exact and then they discuss why that happens.  
  • Third graders create a “pi chain” using construction paper of 10 different colors, each color represents a digit.  For example red =0; blue = 1, etc. I cut the paper 2″ by 12″. Students work together to create a VERY long chain that represents the digits of pi.  They quickly notice that there is no pattern in the colors.  We hang up the chain in the room to remind us of pi for the remainder of the school year. 
  • Don’t forget to throw in a few really corny jokes:  What do you get when you cut a pumpkin on its diameter?  PUMPKIN PIE.  Kids love it.
  • Have your students create something for pi day: JFF – Just For Fun. Use your imagination, or better yet, let your students use theirs.  I offer them several possibilities including: 
    • Write a song about pi for the class to sing
    • Create a video about pi in the world
    • Create a costume or outfit to represent pi
    • Write a poem about pi to share with the class
    • Bring in a fun fact about pi to share with the class
    • Bring in a cylinder to measure during class
    • Write a story about the adventures of pi (fiction)
    • Research the uses of pi in the world
    The biggest thing about pi day is:  HAVE FUN.  Bring math to life by advertising this party and getting your students excited about celebrating math.  After all, it’s not every day that you can have a real party in math class.

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