menu   Home Answers Math Games Free Resources Contact Me  

The Life and Art of Pi

Today I welcome Corinne Jacob as my guest blogger.  She is a fan of Go Figure who contacted me via e-mail, and as a result we began corresponding. Since she spells her first name just like my granddaughter does, we had an immediate connection.

Corinne is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they are having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. She loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.


Math, after years of being relegated to the role of a heartless monster, has slowly begun to get an image makeover and is getting cooler by the day with fun math games and even days that are dedicated to math concepts like Pi Day, which is celebrated on March 14 of every year.  It is especially significant this year as the date format is 3/14/15 (mm/dd/yy) and at the time 9:26:53, we got the pi (π) sequence – 3.141592653!

Life of Pi

Students will be excited to learn about the mathematical constant Pi, which is represented by the Greek letter π. It is defined as the ‘ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle.’ What is it that sets π apart from the rest? The value does not change even if the size of the circle does. Though it is not a recurring decimal, its decimal form does not end; that is, it is an infinite decimal. Did you know that so far 10 trillion digits have been discovered?

Students will meet π when they start learning to calculate the area and circumference of a circle. It makes an appearance in the formula: A= πr2

Art of Pi

Once students learn about this old stalwart of the math world, they can have fun creating art around π.

Pi Woods

In this activity, students can represent the π sequence with colored Popsicle sticks and decorate it like the woods. Ask your class to take the first 10 numbers of π = 3.141592653. Paint ten sticks in different colors but assign one color for each number. For instance, 3 is blue, 1 is orange, and so on. Students can then glue these sticks in the correct π sequence. Using their thumbs and some green paint, they can create leaves around these sticks. They can also collect small leaves from the garden and glue them around.

Pi number” by J.Gabás Esteban is licensed under CC by 2.0

Pi Poem

Taking the first few digits of π, say 3.1415, students can write a poem in this order:

3 word word word
1 word
4 word word word word
1 word
5 word word word word word

Or they can also rearrange an existing poem or rhyme to fit the π sequence such as:
3 hey diddle diddle
1 the
4 cat and the fiddle
1 the
5 cow jumped over the moon

Pi” by fdecomite is licensed under CC by 2.0

Pi Collage

Students can create a collage with the π numbers. They can take as many as they want; here are 10,000 of them! They can cut them out from magazines, newspapers, drawings and glue them onto construction paper in any order they like to create a colorful collage of π numbers.

These are just a few of the ways in which students will retain this number. And don’t forget to mark your calendar so that you can plan something cool for Pi Day!

A Go Figure Debut for a Math Person Who's New (to me, anyway)!

Today, I debut a math teacher who is new to me, but through TPT has become a colleague.  Brittany is from Colorado; so, she named her store The Colorado Classroom - a very fitting name in my opinion.

Brittany shares that when she was eight years old, her second grade teacher had a remarkable effect on her. This teacher showed her how a teacher could truly inspire students. Ever since then, her desire has been to be a teacher and to try to emulate her.

She has taught 6th grade for almost her entire teaching career, but in two very distinct ways. Her first teaching position was at a charter school where she taught 6th grade for eleven years; however, at this school sixth grade was considered an elementary grade.  This meant she taught all the disciplines. Seeking a new challenge, she moved to teaching sixth grade math at a local middle school.

Overall, she tends to use a variety of teaching styles based on the goals and objectives for each individual lesson. These vary from direct instruction and journaling, to student led creations, games, cooperative learning, and more. She really enjoys getting her students involved in their learning and making classroom activities hands-on.

You will find more than 200 resources in Brittany's Teachers Pay Teachers store. Many are math activities, but her store also showcases various resources for social studies. I especially like Overall Average, one of her free math resources since finding the average can be a tricky concept to master. It includes teacher notes and six practice problems as well as two complete example problems with a full answer key.

Ratios and Equivalent Ratios is a paid resource that includes a 12 page mini-lesson on ratios and equivalent ratios. Also contained in this package are 32 task cards so that the students can work on and practice their skills. Some of the tasks students are asked to do are....
  1. Write ratios in various forms – part:part; part:whole; whole:part
  2. Use tables to write ratios
  3. Find the ratio that doesn't belong
  4. Solve word problems
  5. Extend their problem by applying the ratio to a real word situation
  6. Complete ratio tables
I hope you will take the time to check out Brittany's store and the numerous resources she has to offer for grades 4-8.  While you are there, why not download one of her free items and then become a follower?

Milk Lid Math

Start saving those milk jug lids because there are countless math activities you can do in your classroom using this free manipulative
Here are just four of those ideas.

1) Sort the lids by various attributes such as:
  • Color
  • Snap-on or Twist-on 
  • Label or No Label
  • Kind of edge (smooth or rough)

2) Let the students grab one handful of lids.
  • Ask the students to count the lids.
  • See if the students can write that number.

3) Make a pattern using two different colors of lids.
  • Identify the pattern using letters of the alphabet or numbers. The pattern above would be an A, A, B pattern or a 1, 1, 2 pattern.
  • Now ask the students to use more than two colors to make a pattern
  • Once more, have the students identify the pattern using alphabet letters or numbers.

4) Decide on a money value for each color of lid. (Example: Red lids are worth a nickel, blue lids are worth a dime, and white lids are worth a penny.) Put all of the lids into a bag and have the students draw out four lids. Have the students add up the total value of these four lids.
Milk Lid Math
  • Use play money (coins) to have the students show the value of the lids. 
  • Have the students practice writing money as either a part of a dollar or as cents.
  • Another idea is to have the students find all the combinations of lids that would equal a nickel or a dime or a quarter.

On the original download you will receive 15 ideas with numerous subtopics listed under each one. These may be used with a whole group, small groups, or as center activities.