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Pi Day Lesson Freebies!

Recently I told you my plans for teaching a Pi Day lesson.  I am pleased to tell you it went very well!  I am going to share a few things with you that may help your future Pi Day go well.

First of all, I explained to students how Pi was determined.  In case you don’t know, pi is the number that you get when you take the circumference of a circle and divide it by the diameter.  Then I showed students this fun video.  You really need to explain pi first before the video since  the information may get lost in the cutesy-ness of the video.

Next, I talked to the students about how some people try to break records with how many digits of pi they have memorized.  I showed them this website with a million digits of pi and scrolled down a bit so they could see all of the digits of pi.  Students were amazed when I showed them this website and highlighted the names of people who have broken records with memorizing digits of pi. I gave students a paper with as many digits of pi as would fit on it front and back and had them highlight any numbers that meant something to them.  These numbers could be ages, birthdays, lunch numbers, addresses, zip codes, etc.  By the end of the week, I had one student coming up to me and spouting off the first 40 digits of pi she had memorized.  Students seemed slightly obsessed with memorizing digits of pi.

Then I gave students a box of several objects that were circle shaped to choose from.  I just had these items around my classroom.  Now, you must understand that I tend to collect recyclable items and always have a few on hand.  This helped quite a bit with this project.  At this time, no lie, I have about thirty toilet paper rolls in my backseat.  They have been there for several weeks just waiting to go into the school and be a part of some project. 🙂

I also borrowed some hula hoops from the PE teacher for an extra fun challenge!

I told students that they had to measure a smaller item before they measured the large hula hoops.  This seemed to work best for students to manage their time more wisely.

I showed students how to measure around an object with some thin wire that I had.  I chose wire instead of string because string seems to stretch too much, thereby giving inaccurate measurements.  With the wire, students were able to bend it to mark off a point to show where to stop measuring on a ruler.

I had students to measure with the metric side of the ruler and I showed them how to convert the marks between the centimeters into fractional tenths of a centimeter.  For example, a length that measures 5 cm and 2 mm could be written as the decimal 5.2.

I did allow students to use calculators for this activity because I really wanted them to be able to have several decimal places after the decimal.  Not all of my students had been taught division with decimals yet.

At the end we discussed how the measurements didn’t come out to be 3.14 exactly and why that happened.  We discussed the possible use of wire, human error, and so forth.  Students used words like precision to describe their measurements if they weren’t 3.14.  Another topic of closing discussion was looking at papers that had decimals that weren’t preceded by a 3.  We talked about why that may have happened as well.

I would teach this lesson again.  The students were engaged the entire time and really seemed to enjoy this change of pace.

Download the Activity Sheets here if you would like them.

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