Teaching Tips for PI Day and World Math Week

March 14th is a BIG day for mathematicians (both large and small!) with the 29th annual Pi Day being celebrated around the world. Pi is something primary school pupils might have limited understanding of or access to – with the Greek letter “π” representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (approximately 3.1415) – however what better way to introduce Pi to your pupils on the day that maths fans around the world are coming together and celebrating anything ‘Pi’ related by wearing pi-themed clothing, talking pi-themed topics and eating – you’ve guess it – pie?!!

Because Pi is an infinite number (usually shortened to 3.14 for the purpose of our understanding and application) it continues infinitely without any repetition or pattern. By it’s very nature, Pi hold a fascination for kids, who find the concept of ‘infinite’ pretty mind-boggling! Add to the mix, the history of Pi (apparently the ancient Egyptians used Pi to calculate the design of the pyramids!) you’ve got all the ingredients for a great maths topic!

1. Even the youngest pupils love learning about shapes and their properties and how they fit into our lives. Why not get your pupils to think of all the circles they come across in their everyday lives, either as a list or better still diagrams? Compare and contrast.
2. Introduce some new and unfamiliar terms to these circles such as radius, circumference and diameter. If they are given the terms first, can they work out what they refer to before you tell them?! Can they see if there’s any relationship between these measurements? Here’s your opportunity to bring in Pi…!
3. Using DragonBox Elements as a great app starting point, as well as all the other great shape and space apps you can find through the EAS, bring shapes to life through digital devices and get your class to classify and sort shapes by their properties in a whole new dimension!
4. Why do give your pupils the opportunity to create some real life ‘Pi’ with pies of their own?! Either with art or junk modelling or better still some edible ones! This is a great way to bring together the topics of: shape & space, weight and measure as well as fractions (what fraction can they eat at the end of the lesson!) and even proportion, through recipes.
5. Get parents involved. Oftentimes parents are unaware of the terminology of shape and space that their kids need to know so, make sure you recommend some apps for parents to use with their kids, and give your pupils to task of explaining some of the terms and concepts to their parents. Pupils love taking on the role of teacher and being given a forum to show how much they know!

Have fun on Pi Day and during World Math Week from all of us at EAS!