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Pi Day in the Upper Elementary Math Classroom

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Pi Day is coming soon!  Did I make a delicious typo?  No we’re not talking about pie–we’re talking about pi–the irrational number the represents the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter.  Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th each year because the numeric way of writing the date is 3.14, which are the first three digits of pi!

Are you feeling more blue than a blueberry pie because you don’t get to celebrate Pi Day with your students since they are too young to learn about circumference and area of circles?  There are some fun ways to celebrate your elementary students as well.

Your upper elementary students may not study circumference, but they do study the properties of two-dimensional figures.  Use this fun day to review the attributes of polygons versus non-polygons.  Circles have special attributes that make them different from polygons.  Instead of a perimeter measurement like polygons, circles have a circumference measurement.  While polygons have base and height measurements, a circle has a radius and a diameter.  All of these special properties of a circle relate to–you guessed it–pi!

What is the number pi?  As an elementary school teacher, it may have been a while since you have taught about this aspect of circles, and how do you explain this concept in a way that will have any meaning to an elementary school students.  Here is a brief and age appropriate way to describe pi to your students:

  • Pi is a ratio, or a special fraction, made when the circumference of a circle is compared to its diameter.  The circumference is like the circle’s perimeter and the diameter is like its width, except it goes from one edge to the other through the center.
  • Pi is an irrational number.  This means that although it is close to the whole number 3, it has decimal digits that go on forever!  Kids love this fact because they enjoy seeing real life examples of infinity.


Yes, I know that a fraction is a special ratio and not the other way around, but if you are working with third, fourth, or fifth graders, they will not have a clue about ratios.

What about some activities for your class?  Of course I’ve got those for you, too! Click the image to download a free game and and activity for your upper elementary Pi Day celebration!

If you want even more Pi Day fun for your elementary classroom, check out this comic book, comprehension questions, and game from my store on Teachers Pay Teachers.


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