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Pi Day Activities!

It is that time of year when every math teacher gets excited. No, it's not any special holiday that gives teachers a day off but a day where a special number is recognized, pi. When I bring it up to students a lot of what I hear is what the heck is pi day? Do we get pie? Is it about pizza?!? It is always a little sad to break their hearts and say no, and tell them it is about the number pi and we celebrate it on March 14. For this day I like to have a special activity planned that utilizes the number and I wanted to share some that I have done with you.

Measuring Circular objects: Gather up plenty of circular objects like coffee cans, soup cans, pie tins, paper plates, bowls, CDs, and candles. Then have kids measure the diameter and circumference, divide the circumference by the diameter, and watch their amazement as the number comes out to about 3.14 every single time. Have a simple worksheet put together so students can record their measurements. I use something similar to this one found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Pi Puzzle: Print out copies of this puzzle from the teach beside me website, listed below, it will ask you to subscribe to their mailing list but it is free. I have students cut out the pieces and have them put the puzzle back together, some will just cut it out and place the pieces to save themselves from putting it back together. I recommend having it precut, but be warned this can be time consuming.

A Pi-line Skyline: This one is my favorite and I tend to gravitate towards doing this one in my class to give students a mini coloring break. 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 “buildings” and sky, complete with pi-in-the-sky constellations or pi birds if you will. Wanna make it more modern? Have the students complete the activity on Google Sheets.

NASA Activities: The space program uses pi quite a bit in calculations, and NASA has been gracious enough to put together a wealth of activities for teachers on Pi Day. Check out these classroom activities and problem sets for all grades.

Have a book reading: Introduce Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi a book where the main character has been changed into a fire-breathing dragon. His son Radius and Lady Di of Ameter search for clues to the magic number that is the same for all circles in order to change him back!

Tell some jokes! Sometimes to get the class rolling tell them one of those funny jokes such as puns or any math joke for that matter. Here’s a good one, What is wrong with the equation pi r squared? Pi are round and cake are square. Check out some more here if you are in need of inspiration.

Have a pi event on campus! You might recruit teachers who agree to be “pied,” then invite students to vote for one teacher to take a pie in the face by putting coins in a jar. All you need is some pie trays and whipped cream. This is a great way to have a fundraiser on campus and to get students to pie their favorite or least favorite teacher in the face.

Super teacher tip, you should try your best to bring some sort of dessert for the students to enjoy that involves pi, like oranges, cookies or actually bring some pie.

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