March 14 (3.14), to math geeks, is Pi Day. As a middle school math teacher, I wanted to show my students how math is fun and interesting across all disciplines. Our 6th grade team did just that. We began by writing and winning a grant to fund our day. The grant was for $1500, which covered supplies for every lesson, including the t-shirts for the day. What follows are lessons that were included in our Pi Day celebration and incorporated across the curriculum. We also had parent volunteers for the day, as well as local press.
In math class, students took part in a discovery activity to learn more about pi. A variety of circular objects were provided for students to measure, including jar lids, clocks, coffee canisters, canned food, and flower vases. Students chose and measured 5 different circular objects for circumference and diameter, and then calculated the decimal ratio (pi).
Given pi to 100 place values, students did a tally exercise to see how many times each digit, 0-9, appeared in pi. After the tally, students made bar graphs to illustrate the data. Students also watched a domino spiral and learned how pi was used to help calculate the number of dominoes.
Students participated in online scavenger hunts, and held class period contests to see who had memorized pi to the longest place value. Additionally, our social studies teacher showed the Pi Day song to the students.
A read-aloud was a great way for us to include language arts in our cross-curriculum efforts. Of course, the read-aloud had to include pi. We found that “Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi,” by Cindy Neuschwander, tied in perfectly to our Pi Day celebrations. In addition to a read-aloud, students had the opportunity to help with coloring large digits, 0-9. The digits were then cut out and placed on a hallway wall in the correct order of pi digits.
Art and Health Class
In January, students took time during art class to design a t-shirt for the staff and students to wear on Pi Day. The student with the winning design received a free shirt. A local business made the t-shirts for us, and they were passed out the morning of Pi Day to students, and the day before to our staff. Completing the t-shirt design portion of the festivities two months in advance allowed for plenty of time to choose the winning t-shirt and place the order with the printer.
A tiny bit of time between units of study in health class allowed for a quick Pi Day activity. Students strung necklaces with different types of beads representing the 0-9 digits of pi through the first 40 places.
After finishing all Pi Day activities, students were rewarded with a sweet treat. Of course pie was in order after celebrating pi. All pies were donated or made by parents.
Visit the ClassFlow Marketplace (#classflowmkpl) for more interactive educational resources such as graph calculators that you could include in your Pi Day celebration.
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