8 Best Ways To Celebrate Pi Day


In the math world, Pi Day, which is on March 14 to connect with the most common estimation, can be one of the most exciting days of the year!  Even if the grade does not include a standard for pi, students can participate in activities that introduce the concept to them.

I taught 5th grade for eighteen years and included a study of pi for most of them.  I amassed a nice collection of content and activities that I'd like to share with you. Here are some of my favorite Pi Day activities!

1. Introduce the concept of pi with videos and books.

There are a good number of videos and books that address the concept of pi. Math Antics has a good video.  Cindy Neuschwander's Sir Cumference and The Dragon of Pi  has entertained and educated children for years.  As always, preview all videos before showing to children.

2.  Learn through music.

One of the best ways to learn content of any type is through music. Over the years, I compiled a mini song book of pi-related songs set to familiar tunes. We would begin several weeks before the big day, singing and learning. Below are a few favorites.
A most amazing piece was created by musician David Macdonald. He assigned each digit of pi to a note on the piano. The resulting song is both haunting and amazing! Listen to it here

3. Celebrate Albert Einstein's birthday!

Mathematically, it's a coincidence, but...is it really? Einstein's birthday is on March 14, Pi Day! Let your Pi Day celebrations revolve around one of the great mathematician/scientists of all time!

4. Keep it simple. 

Pi is actually quite a simple concept. Even third- and fourth-graders can understand the concept if you focus on pi being just an estimation. Define circumference (the distance around and difficult to measure because of the curves) and diameter (the distance across and easy to measure because it's straight) as two measurements of a circle. Explain that if we multiply the diameter times 3, we can get a good estimate of the circumference. Period. End of explanation. Let students practice, practice, practice measuring the diameters of jar lids, paper circles, mixing bowls, cups, and plates. Multiply by three and they've found the circumference - some very grown up math! Once students have this concept firmly in place, point out that pi is an estimate and we'll never get it exactly, but we can get a little closer by changing that 3 multiplier to 3.14. It's just a little more precise.

5. Hold an optional Digits of Pi Reciting Contest.

We did this year after year and it was a real hit! My all-time winner recited over 100 digits of pi in front of his classmates and made it into the district newsletter! Are you interested in holding one in your classroom? Distribute this list to students for study, then use it to keep track as students recite. As a newsletter subscriber, you can download these documents from my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY.

6. Integrate with English Language Arts.

Teach your students to write Pi Poems. They are not necessarily about pi, but poem where each word has the same number of letters as the corresponding digit of pi. The first word would have three letters, the second word would have one letter, the third word four letters, and so on.

You could also write poems where each line has the same number of words as the corresponding digit of pi. The first line would have three words, the second line would have one word, the third line four words, and so on.

7. Delve into Pi Day art!

Model how to make a Pi Day necklace or bracelet. You'll need stringing beads in ten different colors. Assign each color one of the digits from 0 to 9. Students will string the beads in the order of the digits of pi. They will be beautiful!

Take this idea really large and make a paper chain following the same concept. Using ten different colors of construction paper, assign each color one of the digits from 0 to 9. The paper chain will be long and impressive. Hang it in loops down the hall.

Another activity is to design Pi Day T-shirts or buttons. Give students a T-shirt template or round paper and turn them loose! 

8. Have a Pi Day Party!

Food is a fun way to celebrate any math concept! Provide as many round items as possible, such as cupcakes, pies, and cookies. Have students measure for pi before eating. Don't forget to measure plates and cups, too!

There are any number of fun, educational Pi Day activities. I'd love to hear about what YOU do! Happy Pi Day!
Growing Grade By Grade
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