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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Celebrate Pi Day

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


March 14 is known as Pi Day because 3/14 are the first three digits of Pi (π). 

Why celebrate? 

If you have children or grandchildren, celebrations are a fun way to teach what some find difficult or even boring. By celebrating π, the very special number becomes a familiar concept, and the more familiar a concept, the less difficult the concept becomes. 

Celebrations transform boring into F U N! Research shows that emotions aid or hinder learning. The more positive the learning experience, the greater the retention. Concepts learned under negative experiences are difficult to recall. 

For adults, celebrations add fun to our lives, too. Who doesn't like a little something special to brighten a late winter day as we look forward to spring? I know I love having special signs, place cards, and arrangements that celebrate the holidays all during the year. Not just at Christmas. 

Here's a way to instill a love of mathematics in your children instead of passing on your dread, dislike, or fear. By talking about mathematics in positive ways, children learn to expect to do well in mathematics which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Ideas for H O W to celebrate Pi (π)

1] Make and display a print about π. 

  • An inexpensive standing clipboard from an office supply store is an easy way to display a paper print and an easy way to change the display. 
  • Place a copy in a picture frame to hang on the wall of your young student's bedroom. 
  • Use a thumbtack to attach one to a bulletin board. 
  • Transfer the print onto a wood sign. 

Keep the print on display A F T E R Pi Day to decorate your student's room. The more the student sees the print, the more familiar the symbol, formulas, and approximations become. 

Sure, students use the π key on a calculator these days, but seeing the formulas and approximations on a daily basis reinforces the concept more than a fleeting numerical value on a calculator screen. 

In addition, using mathematical terms as decorations makes being good at mathematics a G O O D thing. We want to encourage being good at mathematics is C O O L. 

Children are never too young to be exposed to mathematical symbols. The earlier a symbol becomes part of a child's life, the more comfortable the child is with the symbol or term. A π print can hang on the wall of an infant. No one expects the baby to understand the print, but seeing the symbol or term makes it part of a child's vocabulary before learning how to use it in formulas. 

2] Make π flags or banners. 
Use your toothpick π flags...
  •  Decorate cupcakes.  
  • Place in a slice of pie. A common pun...  
  • Insert into a stack of pancakes at breakfast... or pancakes for dinner.  More F U N. 
  • Place in an apple. 
  • Stand between pages of a standing books.  
Or, use π squares without toothpicks to make a banner.  

3] Make a project together that requires the use of π.
For your children who have learned about π in school, make a common project around the house together that requires the use of π. 

  • C = πd 

The distance around a circular object, like a tablecloth, is the circumference (C). To calculate the amount of trim needed to go around the bottom of a circular tablecloth, multiply the diameter (d) by π. Your child learns how much trim, ribbon, or braid to buy. 

  • A = πr²

Find the area (A) of a circle by multiplying π times the radius (r) times the radius (r.) To determine how many square feet are in a circular patio, use A = πr².  Once you know the number of square feet needed, your child will be able to tell the clerk at the hardware store the number of square feet needed, and the clerk can calculate how many paver stones you need to buy to cover the circular patio.

4] Buy a mathematical clock with π values. 
When I was a high school precalculus/trigonometry and calculus teacher, my students loved having this clock in our classroom. I bought it from another high school mathematics teacher in Plano, Texas who made them to sell. For less than the price of a pair of name-brand tennis shoes, the students had a handy reference. Some even bought one for their rooms at home. 

Without going into the mathematics of all those π fractions, just let me say, my precalculus/trigonometry students needed to know this information for almost every topic we studied. The calculus students also needed to know this for some of their topics.  

Once a math teacher, 
always a math teacher. 

When I became an assistant principal, the clock hung on the wall of my office. I will always be a math teacher in my heart. On occasion as an assistant principal, I would help a student office aide or my secretary's daughter with their math assignments. Once a math teacher, always a math teacher. 

Since I was on duty every day during the lunch period as an administrator, I was supposed to eat my lunch at 11:45 a.m, but often missed lunch due to the backlog of students to see. 

One day when I arrived for work in my office, I found this cute little heart pie taped to my clock at the π value. It was a coincidence that I was supposed to start my lunch at exactly the π place, and my wonderful secretary had taped the heart pie there to remind me to go eat my lunch. 

I've left that little heart pie on my clock all these years as a reminder of what a fantastic secretary worked with me. We were kindred spirits. 

Now the mathematical clock lives in my office at home along with copies of old B L U E mathematical textbooks. 

The threads in our lives are intermingled so well that where one ends and the next begins is often hard to follow. 

I find great joy in having mathematical textbooks in my favorite color. 

Did you find a way to celebrate π at your house?

π π π π π

Copies of my free π printables can be found at this link.  

Here is a link to clocks with π radians {no affiliation}

I could not find a source for a clock like mine.

Please join me at these inspiring places for more joy of living. 

Dishing It and Digging It @ Rustic and Refined