March 14th, 2015 at 9:26:53 (in the morning and in the evening) is special in the math world. I have a really great STEM project for kids to share with you: Pi Skyline. This post includes Pi Day Activities that are simple to put together and children will enjoy.
What is Pi Day?
Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π. Pi Day is observed annually on March 14. 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. Hence, 3/14 is the day of celebration. While we've only been officially celebrating Pi Day since 2009, the symbol for Pi has been in use since 1706. With that said, the symbol for Pi has been said to be used by Archimedes as far back as 250 BC.
How is Pi Calculated?
Π is the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet and is used to represent a mathematical constant. Furthermore, the definition of Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. In other words, in basic math terms, you can find the area and circumference of a circle.
While the symbol for Pi, according to Live Science, represents the idea of Pi as it pertains to a river. “A river's windiness is determined by its ‘meandering ratio,' or the ratio of the river's actual length to the distance from its source to its mouth as the crow flies.”
Pi Day Activity for Kids
This Pi Day Activity works for a wide range of ages and abilities. The child can paper hole punch squares, measure his own grid, use a template grid, color the squares, paint the skyline, make the scene day or night, color code the grid, etc. The creative possibilities are endless for this Pi Day activity.
You need a grid for a base. The grid can be created in various sizes, using a pencil & ruler, using a square paper hole punch, and decorated in a variety of ways.
- Large construction paper for the background
- Small construction or tissue paper for squares (if not coloring in)
- Square Paper Hole Punch
- Ruler to create the grid
- Pencil to create the grid
- Markers or colored pencils
- Watercolor paint for background (if desired)
Pi Day Activity Approach
As I mentioned above, there are many ways to create your Pi Skyline.
- Create a grid using a ruler or print one out (here is a small 10 x 10 grid to download). If you're using a square paper hole punch, you don't need to measure and draw the grid.
- Ask the child to create a color code for the numbers (e.g. 4 = red, 6 = green) or if the child desires he can choose all one color (e.g. black) or the child can even paper hole punch square images from magazines to glue onto his grid.
- Introduce the number to the child (click on this link if you need a refresher on the background of Pi). The child can choose however many digits he'd like for his project. Here is a quick reminder: 3.14159265359…
- Show a few examples of a Pi Skyline
- Encourage your child to create his own skyline using the number (and color-coded) grid
This skyline used a large piece of construction paper and markers to color in a grid created with pencil.
Click on this image for a fun coloring page for kids.
Benefits of this Activity
- Spans wide age range
- Allows the child to use a unique creative approach
- Introduces basic computer programming
- Process Art using a variety of mediums
- Learns math with the decimal, digits, place value, or simple numeration
- Measuring work with a ruler
- Fine Motor work with coloring, using a ruler, and paper hole punching
Other Pi Day Resources
Math Resources for Pi Day from the NEA
Learn a Pi Day Language
Pilish is the Pi dialect. Literary nerds invented it, so don't fret if you've never heard of it. However, this language can make for a fun activity for kids. Here is how it works: the numbers of letters in successive words match the digits of pi. There is actually a book by a man named Mike Keith called “Not a Wake” written entirely in Pilish.
Here is an excerpt:
Now I fall, a tired suburbian in liquid under the trees,
Drifting alongside forests simmering red in the twilight over Europe.
(“Now” has three letters, “I” has one letter, “fall” has four letters, and so on.)