Planning Pi Day activities

More than just math?

deliciousLet’s be honest, there’s not many days dedicated to the celebration of math or its concepts. This is why math folks get a little energized every March 14th. Picking up where last year’s Pi Day post left off, this is an opportunity to plan for activities or celebrations in the classroom, but more importantly infuse some enjoyment into the math culture.

What is pi?

Jumping right into it, here is the Complete History and Complete Explanation of Pi in 3 minutes and 14 seconds:

Pi has a sound?

You betcha: pi’s a great tool for music teachers to infuse a little (more) math in the music theory curriculum. Check it out:

Just a few resources that might help plan you Pi day activities:

Why is Pi Day such a big deal?

While on the surface it is important to have fun with Pi day, we really we are trying to build a school culture where math and being good at math is infused, accepted and believed. So often I have seen students (and adults) beliefs about math or their abilities in math hinder their willingness to “jump” in. If we have more ways to celebrate, enjoy, and promote math in a way that invites curiosity and builds beliefs that “I” am good at math, we have a fighting chance to see the important connectedness of math in our lives.

What happens on 3/15?

Keeping the excitement going… with mathletes?

Yes, mathletes.Document3

In places where I have seen it done well, the cultivation of Mathletes has been a common influence. Whether it is a competitive engagement, an after school club, or just a space were math is celebrated daily, the culture has become more accepting and math has been embraced by a larger audience. It starts with teachers wearing funny math t-shirts (these are pretty good), then mathletes, then everyone wants in. It can…. and does happen!

We know that research also supports this, don’t just believe me. Just a few pieces of light reading…..

Perhaps we will know we are successful when spellcheck finally recognizes the word mathlete.

Connections to family and community

When we look at celebrations, either whole school or classroom based, it’s a great opportunity to engage our partners in learning.

I would suggest folks think about inviting parents of community partners to be apart of the activities or have a community showcase of learning to an authentic audience. My favorite culminating activity is a pie or Pi eating contest with students and adults. It’s a shot in the arm for community building and celebrating learning. Does’t get much better!

So as Pi day rolls in next Monday (pun intended), have fun with it, eat some baked goods, but most importantly model the love and enthusiasm for this crazy thing call Math.


Scott Thompson

Educator, Student advocate, husband, father, adventurer, outdoor enthusiast, cook, traveler, and former North American Nerf Golf Champion.

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