I think I was in my 20s before I truly understood what “pi” was. Prior to that, I realized that pi had something to do with circles and the number 3.14. However, I was a clueless about the real meaning of “π.” When they hear the word pi, most kids probably think of dessert. National Pi Day is on March 14. In honor of the holiday, here are some Pi Day activities for kids
What is Pi?
According to piday.org, “pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.” In other words, the circumference of a circle is 3.14 (or more accurately 3.14159) times its diameter. Pi is represented by the Greek symbol π. In addition, Pi is an irrational and transcendental number. This means the digits never end or repeat.
Learning About Circles
In order to understand pi, first, children first need to understand circles. A great way to show this is to hold hands and form a circle. Have a child walk around the circle to show circumference. To illustrate diameter, have two children hold a string so it goes all the way across the circle (it must pass through the center of the circle). To show radius, have one child stand in the center of the circle and hold one end of the string while a child on the rim holds the other end.
Sir Cumference Books
Cindy Neuschwander created a great math series to help explain geometry. Sir Cumference: And the First Round Table is an excellent tale to teach basic concepts like circumference, diameter and radius. Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi uses a riddle to help explain pi. These adventurous tales have fun characters such as Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and Radius.
Gather some cylinder shaped objects like coffee cans, oatmeal canisters and cylinder shaped blocks. Then, use a piece of yarn to wrap around the canister. Next, measure the yarn and cut into three equal pieces. After that, stretch one of the cut pieces of yarn across the diameter. Kids should notice that the yarn is slightly longer than the diameter. Point out that the circumference is about three (or 3.14) times bigger than the diameter. If you tape the three pieces of string back together, they will be able to go around the circumference of the circle. This is an illustration of what pi looks like.
There are so many fun foods that come in a circle shape. Pizza, quesadillas and, of course, pie are all great meal or dessert choices to help celebrate National Pi Day. You can even use icing to pipe on a diameter, radius, pi or 3.14. A circle feast is an excellent activity to culminate the festivities.
Happy National Pi Day!
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