Having Fun with Pi
Incorporate some of these great Pi Day activities into your classroom.
By Rachel D
March 14th is just around the corner, which means it is time to celebrate pi! Below are activities that you can do in the classroom to enjoy 3.14.
Pi Number Chain
Pi is a mathematical constant that never ends and never repeats itself. So, a paper pi chain can keep your learners busy for a very long time if you don't stop them! Challenge your pupils to see how long their paper chain can get, when they are given a certain amount of time. Divide your class into groups, or have individuals to race to see who can make the longest chain. When the challenge is over, you can create one class chain by combining everyone’s links. Then they can write a number on each link that corresponds to the numbers in Pi. The first link could be larger in order to represent the three. Then each link has the successive number in pi: 1,4,1,5, etc. To extend the lesson, present your class with truncated decimal versions of this infinite number. For example, the first fifty digits of pi are 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510. You can also show them how to find the digits of pi here.
Using a paper plate, have each pupil write the pi symbol in the center. Then, starting from the symbol, each learner writes the numbers of pi in order, wrapped around and around the plate. Use the link above to see the first million digits of pi. These plates make great decorations to hang in the classroom. If you’re having a Pi Day celebration, be sure to have the decorated plates hung up for your party!
Pie for Pi
Ask a few parent volunteers to bring in pies in various sizes. Divide your class into small groups according to the number of pies you have (i.e. 4 pies = 4 groups). Then, challenge the groups to calculate the area of each pie. Of course, the point its to have them calculate using the pi formula: A = (pi)(r)(r). Rotate the groups to each pie, and then compare the results. Did everyone get the same answers? What caused some answers to be different? After your discussion, bust out some plates and forks to eat the pies! Tip: if edible pies are not an option for your classroom, use construction paper to simulate this activity.
Why limit your celebration to one day? Pi Day is a great opportunity to incorporate a math project. Projects, especially research and creative projects, are often limited language arts and social studies. Stretch your learners by assigning a math project. During the week of March 14, have your mathematicians research the history and meaning of pi. Encourage them to create graphic organizers to help them with this project. Then, have each student curate their research into a solid presentation of their choosing. The presentation could be in any of these formats:
- Slideshow presentation
- Poster board
Pi Memorization Contest
This is a great contest that can be hosted either within your classroom, or for the entire school. Challenge learners with a pi memorization contest. The object is to memorize as many digits of pi as they can. Use the following link to create a worksheet of the first one hundred digits of pi. Prior to the contest, pass this page out as a study aid. You can also use it to keep track of the numbers as contestants are reciting them on the competition day.
Get your high schoolers excited about pi with a dynamic lesson plan. They use string, rulers, and calculators to calculate pi. This will help them to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle.
After reading a brief article about pi, pupils will complete multiple activities. You can print out the whole page, or copy and paste your favorite pi activities to a document in order to create your own worksheet. Activities include sentence scrambles, word scrambles, fill-in-the-blank, and phrase matching.
Random facts about pi are listed on this worksheet. This is a great resource for pupils to utilize for a Pi Week project.
*The American Pie Council suggests not to confuse this day with National Pie Day on January 23rd.