What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 1 – Pi Day

So you are stuck at home with your kid for 3 weeks and are scrambling for stuff to do.  I’m a teacher, I get it. This is my job. I program for kids all day, 5 days a week, 194 days a year.  Given that I teach 12 to 14 year-olds, my activities have to be interesting and dynamic. I am also the kind of person who doesn’t want to be bored, so I apply my creative to lesson planning.

So I want to offer you some stuff to do to keep your kids occupied. I am trying for one of these a day, but I am home with my own child and if Covid-19 sneaks up on me, I need to rest. But until then, I will try.

So today I have chosen activities around Pi Day.   

Pi Day is the wonderfully geeky and nerdy celebration of the concept of Pi.  It is celebrated in schools and universities around the world. I would celebrate in my class every year, so there are a lot of things you can do with this.

What is Pi?

Pi is the ratio that you get every time you divide the measurement of the circumference of a circle by the measurement of its diameter. It is a universal constant, which means it never changes. (Don’t @ me Physics people. We are talking generalities here.)

A good overview for younger children is this book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi. I read this to my Grade 7 and 8s. They like to be read to. If you can’t get a hold of it through the library (because these are closing too), try this video of it from YouTube. Also, check with your local library’s website. Many of them have services that give you access to a digital copy of the book.

For older kids, one of my favorite websites is Math is Fun. They have a great page on Pi that can lead you through how Pi is calculated. (Also a great refresher for adults).

For all kids – BAKE!  So much of what we bake is circle shaped. Make a pie, a cake, cupcakes or cookies.  Decorate them with the letter Pi. And then eat them while you learn about Pi.

Preschool Activities

Circle scavenger hunt – Have your kids find as many circles as they can in the house. Or if you are trying to take a daily walk to get some fresh air. For added fun, have them use a phone or tablet to take a picture of the circle.  You can have a conversation with them in the moment about the attributes of the circles. So is it big or small? Is it bigger or smaller than the last circle? What colour is it?

Pop Can Prints  – I love No Time for Flashcards. It is a great site full of pre-school activities that are often done with things around your house. This one has you using old pop cans to dig in paint and let your toddler make art.  If you have an older toddler, there is no reason why you can’t use full cans of soup or other goods from the pantry. 

Body Circles Challenge – Have your toddler make a circle with their body. Challenge them to try a different way. So with their hands, then their arms, then their whole body.  Can they use them to make a circle that a stuffed animal can pass through? This would be fun to have siblings to do together.

Primary Activities

Circle scavenger hunt – This is a variation of the pre-school activities.  But in addition, introduce half circles. Have your kids find as many as they can in the house. Or if you are trying to take a daily walk to get some fresh air. For added fun, have them use a phone or tablet to take a picture of the circle.  You can have a conversation with them in the moment about the attributes of the circles. So is it big or small? Is it bigger or smaller than the last circle? What colour is it?

Measuring circles – grab a few circles from around your house. Cans, toys, etc. Give your kids a piece of string or yarn. Have them estimate the circumference of the circle in lengths of string or yard and then measure it. (This could be a lot of fun if you have a bag of Twizzlers lying around. Or Fruit by the Foot.)

Pi Day Songs – A list of songs sung to familiar tunes.  Sing them with your kids.

Junior Activities

Race to Pi – This is a very fun card game that you can play with one person or many.

Pi Day Skyline Art – fun activity. All you need is graph paper, the digits of pi and markers. You can get as fancy as you want, dragging out the watercolours.  If you don’t have graph paper, you can print some out here.

The Pi Song: Funny Song to help you memorize Pi – Warning this one is annoying. There are plenty more on the web. Google them if this one is driving you crazy.

Measuring Circles – if you have a measuring tape (the one from your sewing kit is a great for this) have your kids measure the circumference, radius and diameter around the house. Alternately, give them a piece of string and have them measure the object and then compare it to a ruler. Discuss with them how well they did this. What were the challenges? What did they notice?

Intermediate Activities

Measuring Circles – if you have a measuring tape (the one from your sewing kit is a great for this) have your kids measure the circumference, radius and diameter around the house. Alternately, give them a piece of string and have them measure the object and then compare it to a ruler.  Have them write down what they found and then divide the circumference by the diameter. What do they observe?

Mathematical Pi Song – I play this all the time for my Grade 8s. Based on the movie American Pie

Memorize Pi – Find a website on Pi and challenge your kids to memorize as many digits of Pi as possible. Then have them take turns reciting it.

One Million Digits of Pi – This website has Pi to the millionth digit. Load it up and let them scroll. 

Proof of Concept – Have your kids trace the same size circle three times. 

  1. With the first circle, fold it into half and then half again, so quarters. Cut the circle along the folds. Glue the circles, flipping every second one so that the corner touches the curve of the next piece.  See figure 1. Draw a line to make a parallelogram. See figure 2.
  2. With the second circle , fold it into half and then half again, and then half again to make 8 segments. Cut the circle along the folds. Glue the circles, flipping every second one so that the corner touches the curve of the next piece like you did with the first one.
  3. With the third circle , fold it into half and then half again, and then half again, and then half again to make 16 segments. Cut the circle along the folds. Glue the circles, flipping every second one so that the corner touches the curve of the next piece like you did with the first and second one.
  4. Calculate the area of the parallelograms.  What do you notice? What do you wonder?
  5. How do the different parts of the circle relate to the different parts of the parallelogram? What conclusions can you draw?

High School Activities

Pi Fight – Game web Based game around radians. 

Approximation of Pi –  A great document on how we estimate Pi. Read and discuss with your kid. Do the math they covered.

Turn Pi into Music – an attempt to turn the digits of Pi into music 

In Our Times – Pi – A podcast on the history of Pi

Pi Rap Battle – Lose Yourself (In The Digits) – Pi Day Song  – Video is grainy, but this is just fun.

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