Math deserves its own day, don’t you think? Join the fun of Pi Day, celebrated on March 14 (3.14, get it?) by more and more schools every year. Here are 14 Pi Day activities that will encourage your students to see the joy and whimsy in math.
1. Make a Pi Day paper chain.
Just like our ol’ mathematical friend pi, paper chains can be endless … in activity time, length, and fun! As a class or grade, create the Pi Day chain with loops of construction paper, using a different color for each of the 10 digits. Each colored chain link represents a decimal place or a digit. Schools around the country have gotten in on this Pi Day trend and have even attempted world records. How long will your class or school’s Pi Day chain be?
2. Divide it up!
Pi means circles, and circles mean pizza—at least they do with the kids we know! Have a pizza “pi” party for lunch. Remind your class that the symbol π is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Have your students measure the diameter and circumference of the pizzas. (Make sure their hands are clean!) Then, reinforce a lesson on fractions by cutting each pie into a different number of slices and discussing the ratio that one piece is to the whole pie.
3. Speaking of circles …
We love this creative Pi Day idea that can get the whole class or entire school involved. Give each student in the class a quarter of a circle to decorate on their own. Put the quarters all together to make this stunning class or hallway collage. Instant community inspiration! Now those are some gorgeous looking “pies.”
4. Host a Pi Day fundraiser.
Sell slices of pizza or pie to students, parents, and teachers for $3.14. Raise money for your favorite cause or to purchase school essentials. Your students will strengthen their math skills and solidify those multiplication tables while raising funds for what your school or a local charity needs most.
5. Surprise your students with a math class read-aloud.
The book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure is a perfect choice for a Pi Day read-aloud. The quest follows Lady Di of Ameter and Radius through the castle as they search for clues that will help them solve this mystery: Sir Circumference has been changed into a fire-breathing dragon, and they need the magic number that is the same for all circles in order to change him back! Need more? Here are two cute and quick pi videos to watch: Pi Is Beautiful and The Pi Episode.
6. Conduct a Pi symphony.
Create your own class symphony using pi to structure the composition. Assign each student or groups of students a number from one through nine and have each group come up with a musical sound associated with their number. The sounds can be claps, hums, whistles, knocks, beats on a drum or tambourine, or notes on a kazoo, recorder, triangle, or other available musical instrument. Write the first 20 digits of pi on the board and direct students to make their chosen sound when you point to their number. Zero can be a rest. Repeat the sequence several times until you get the hang of it and have a rhythmic tune to show for your effort!
7. Create Pi Day cards of appreciation.
Aww … it’s a pi-lentine! Have students create valentine-style cards with clever tongue-in-cheek messages. We love I hope our friendship goes on forever and There’s nothing irrational about being friends with you, but there are infinite ideas! You can keep it classroom-themed too: Come to the math side … we have pi(e) or I love circle time with you … it’s such a fun area. The pi puns go on and on and on …
8. Write pi-ku poems.
Have your students write their own pi-ku poems. Inspired by haiku, these quick poems have a different number of syllables in each line.
It works like this:
First line: three syllables
Second line: one syllable
Third line: four syllables
Here is an example:
Source: What We Do All Day
Hand out graph paper and colored markers or crayons and have students graph the digits of pi using a bar graph format. Once their pi-line skyline is created, invite them to color in the sky, complete with pi-in-the-sky constellations. Thanks to What We Do All Day for this inspiring art and math activity.
10. Go on a circle hunt …
Collect a variety of objects that are circles or cylinders and share then with your class. These can include coffee cans, soup cans, pie tins, paper plates, bowls, CDs, candles, and more. Divide students into groups of two or three and have each group select a circle. Supply a length of string and ruler to each group, and ask them to measure the diameter and the circumference of their circles. Next, have each group calculate the circumference divided by the diameter and share the results. Depending on the accuracy of their measurements and calculations, each group should have a result that is close to 3.14, no matter how large or small their circle is. Discuss the results and then celebrate your new understanding of pi with some of those chocolate chip-filled circles kids tend to like.
11. … or have a pi word challenge.
Instead of a pie-eating contest, hold a pi-writing contest in your classroom. Set a timer to three minutes and challenge your students to write as many words as they can that start with pi. Ready. Set. Go!
12. Go on a Pi Day scavenger hunt.
Send your class or small groups of students on a Pi Day scavenger hunt around your school, having them search for items that represent the digits of pi (3.1415926535). For example, have them find three books, one piece of chalk, four markers, one water bottle, five erasers, and so on.
13. Discover this pi secret.
Have students write 3.14 on a piece of paper and hold it up to a mirror. What does the reflection spell? Do your students think that is a coincidence? What other word reflections can you create with combinations of the numbers one, three, and four? Do any other numbers look like letters when reflected in the mirror?
14. Watch an amazing video on pi, consider replicating it, then maybe eat pie instead!
Middle and high schoolers will get a kick out of the guys from Numberphiles, who totally geek out over all things math, and in this case, 3.14159. Watch their attempt to calculate pi … using real pies. If you aren’t wowed by the end, you’ll at least be hungry. Makes for the perfect excuse to take an afternoon snack break. Plan a class bake-off before the day, watch, share pie, and enjoy!
What are your favorite Pi Day activities? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.