Pi Day Math Activities: Bringing Fun to the Classroom

As this Saturday approaches one of the most epic math days approaches.  Of course, I am speaking about Pi Day on March 14.  This year makes it especially wonderful because it won’t just be Pi Day on 3/14. It will be Super Pi Day on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 when 10 digits of pi align to the date of the year.  That’s just cool! And it only happens once each hundred years.

Bright green frame with "Pi Day Fun" in light blue text and underscored with a thick light green line. Underneath are three pictures from various Pi Day activities.

Pi Day is the perfect opportunity to hook kids on math activities that elicit fun, logic, and thinking skills. Too often, as educators, we hear, “Math is too hard,” “I can’t do it,” etc.  But Pi Day allows you to have fun with math. Plus, it allows kids to see that math doesn’t just have to be a list of numbers and equations or repetitive practice. Pi Day lets kids see that math can be shapes, figures, fractals, colors, diagrams, exploration, discovery, and more.

Young Students Craft Pi

Bright green frame with many pages and activities from the Pi Day celebration.  Includes paper chains, Pi Day Quilts, Circle Art, bar graph, bracelet and keychain.

For the younger students, Pi Day math activities include a wealth of crafts that relate to circles.  Cut, glue, bead, sew, and string together anything that has to do with circles, making circles the focus.  Add in a little history explaining the discovery of the ratio, who assigned the Greek letter of pi to it, and how pi is used today, and you’ve got yourself a complete lesson. 

Some craft suggestions include assigning a different color to each digit, 0-9. Then use that guide to create bracelets and keychains. Another is to decorate pi quilt squares by coloring pi in spirals around an 81-count grid. Or students can make a paper chain representing the digits of pi. There are so many cute ideas waiting to be done, too.

Pi Day Math Activities Exploration

Bright green frame with many pages and activities from the Pi Day celebration.  Includes cans, frisbees, CD, bottlecap, penny, yo-yo, tape, etc.

For slightly older children, Pi Day math activities allow them to explore concepts without the weight of a grade or the worry of a test.  Students can graph the digits of pi. They can measure circumferences and diameters and find the ratio themselves. Students can explore the volume of different sized cylinders and see how the base (area) of the circle affects the volume. Plus there are measurement activities and more to go around.

Older Students Inquire Within

Bright green frame with many pages and activities from the Pi Day celebration.  Includes moebius strips, circles, parallelograms, and Buffon's Needle, etc.

Then finally, for your oldest students, capture some amazement and excitement with Pi Day math activities that explore inquiry-based thinking.  Think of all the fun the science teacher gets to have with labs. Now you get to do it too but without the frog guts. 

Students can re-create the early stages of Archimedes’ experiment with polygons and discover the ratio of pi.  They can run Buffon’s Needle experiment and be amazed at how toothpicks on a paper predict the value of pi.  Then allow students to hypothesize what will happen as they apart various loops of paper and create Moebius strips. Or even let them cut, glue, and explore how circles and parallelograms are related.

Celebrate Pi Day with Cool Math Activities

This is really just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much you can do with circles and so many ways you can explore how Pi has impacted the world around us.  So take the opportunity to celebrate Pi Day as it rolls around each year. Whether it’s this epic Pi Day or just any March 14th, the kids are counting on you to help them realize just how cool math can be. And maybe, just maybe, we can turn one of those kids who claims, “It’s too hard,” into the next young mathematicians of the decade.

Get Your Own Pi Day Math Activities

For these activities and more, check out Pi Day Math Activities Bundle. With dozens of activities, it has everything you need to have an awesome Pi Day for years to come.

Also, check out this post on Pi Day Station Rotations to hear how my teammates and I implemented stations for Pi Day and taught 9-12 activities in an afternoon each year.

Do you celebrate Pi Day?  Let me know in the comments what you do for this magical day in March.

The Colorado Classroom Signature - Brittany


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