Pi Day 2024: Activities and Games for Elementary Students

Get ideas on how to celebrate Pi Day 2024 with your elementary students.

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pi day games and activities for elementary students

Pi Day 2024

National Pi Day 2024 will be celebrated on Thursday, March 14.  This day focuses on the mathematical constant known as pi, which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Since pi plays a big role in math and science, we’re sharing some pi day activities for elementary students that will teach them all about the never-ending number. Have fun and expand your knowledge with some pi games!

But First, What Is Pi?

When you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter, the result is always pi. This is true for any circle of any size, which makes pi a mathematical constant. Pi is an irrational number that begins with 3.14. Hence, that is why National Pi Day is celebrated on 3/14! The digits of pi go on forever without any pattern or repetition, making it especially interesting to mathematicians. Pi’s symbol is the Greek letter π.

In 2022, Emma Haruka Iwao and her team of software developers at Google were able to calculate 100 trillion digits of pi, creating a new world record. That’s something to celebrate!

How Did National Pi Day Start?

Physicist Larry Shaw connected pi to March 14th when he organized an event for the staff at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. Shaw served pie and tea to everyone, and the gathering became an annual tradition. Soon after, other math geeks around the country began their own pi day activities. In 2009, US Congress declared Pi Day a national holiday!

Pi Day Activities for Elementary Students

Now that you know what pi and Pi Day is all about, let’s get into some ways you can celebrate Pi Day 2024 with your elementary students! We’re sharing some pi games you can play using supplies around your classroom, as well as some pi day activities possible on a selection of Math & Movement mats.

Buffon's Needle Problem

The oldest known game involving pi is Buffon’s Needle Problem. In the 1700s, a French nobleman named Count Buffon observed that a popular game of chance could help calculate the value of pi.

To try his experiment, toss some pencils or toothpicks on a sheet of lined paper. Next, count how many pencils or toothpicks you tossed, as well as how many of those touch a line on the paper. Dividing these two numbers will give you an answer close to pi!

Try Buffon’s Needle Problem as a contest – whoever can calculate the most digits of pi from their pile of pencils or toothpicks wins!

Pi Art

By Michael Albert

Many artists have used pi as an inspiration for their artwork. For example, pop artist Michael Albert makes collages using the digits of pi, and has reached up to 777 digits so far. 

For a creative spin on Pi Day activities, encourage students to create artwork of their own. Here are some ideas:

  • Have your students make their own versions of Michael Albert’s pi collage by cutting out numbers from old magazines or newspapers.
  • Make art out of Buffon’s Needle by tracing where the pencils and toothpicks fall or by drawing circles around them.

Finding Pi in the Classroom Game

pi day games activities
Image via The Tech Advocate

Gather a variety of cylindrical objects, such as plates, coins, drinking glasses, soda cans, soup cans, tape rolls, and toilet paper rolls. Have students measure the circumference and diameter of each object by using a string and a ruler. Next, challenge students to divide the circumference by the diameter and watch the solution come out to be close to 3.14 every time!

For younger students who are not dividing yet, have a scavenger hunt for circular objects around the classroom. Alternatively, have students name circular objects or bring circular items from home. See who can find or name the most objects in this pi game!

Pi Paper Chain

Make a pi paper chain by assigning a color of paper to each digit and connecting the loops with tape.

Get your whole school involved in this pi day activity and see how long your chain can get! The world record for the longest pi chain was set in 2011 with 65,000 links. See if your school can beat that!

pi day games activities
Image by Autumn Driscoll for ctpost

Bead Bracelets

For a fun individual activity, make pi day bracelets! Assign each digit to a different color bead. Then, have students string the beads together in a pattern that matches the digits of pi.

Pi Day Movement Activities

Test your students’ knowledge of the digits of pi with this fun math movement!

    1. Divide your class into groups of 9 students. 
    2. Give each student a number card indicating their number from 1-9.
    3. The student with the ‘3’ card will start by saying “three” and jumping up.
    4. Everyone says, “point.”
    5. The student holding the ‘1’ card will jump and say their number.
    6. Continue through the digits of pi until they don’t know the order anymore.
    7. For younger students, give them a guide with the digits of pi to follow along with. 
pi day games activities

A simple movement-based activity like this one can help kids burn off some extra energy and focus better on the day’s lessons. As another fun pi game, challenge your students to come up with their own cheers or dances to recite the numbers of pi.

Pi Games with Math & Movement

Looking for ways to use your Math & Movement materials in your Pi Day activities for elementary students? We have a couple of ideas for you!

pi day games activities

Place Value Hop P3 (Decimals) Mat

Use your Place Value Hop P3 (Decimals) to build the number pi! Have students place the numeral cards in the boxes at the top of the mat. Then, have students take turns hopping and reciting the number. Start on “3” and continue to the right through the decimal places, saying “3 ones”, “1 tenth”, “4 tenths”, “1 thousandth”, and so on aloud. Pi day is a great opportunity to practice place value!

Equivalent Fractions Hop Mat

Younger elementary students who are not ready for circumference lessons can still participate in the Pi Day games! Decorate paper plates to look like pies. Cut “slices” out of the paper plates to make fractional pieces. Have students match the different-sized slices to the correct fraction on the Equivalent Fractions Hop mat. Or, challenge students to create a whole “pi” from the slices.

equivalent fractions activities fraction hands on activity for kids games for the classroom teaching pi day game
Image via Instructables

Finding Volume Mat

Are you on your volume lesson in math or science class? Ask your students to find pi in the formulas on the Finding Volume mat. Talk about each formula and how pi relates to each shape.

Pi Day celebrations can be educational and productive at school. Save these Pi Day activities to make March 14th special for elementary students every year. What plans does your school have for Pi Day 2024? Let us know in the comments!

Feature image by Linda Roisum from Pixabay

One Response

  1. Excited for Pi Day 2024! Love the idea of combining fun with learning through activities like Buffon’s Needle Problem. It’s a creative way to teach elementary students about pi while engaging in a bit of healthy competition. Can’t wait to see who calculates the most digits! #PiDayFun #MathIsCool

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