Lesa Sexton is BACK with a ONE-TWO PUNCH of academic ideas! Today, we are having fun with math!
It’s a common refrain heard from kids and adults alike: “I’m bad at math. I’m just not a math person.”
Math doesn’t always get a lot of love, and we totally get it. It can seem daunting (so…many…numbers…), it doesn’t feel applicable to real-life (when will I ever need to calculate the area of a triangle?), it’s absolute (unlike other subjects, there generally IS a right and wrong answer), and to top it off-it can be just plain boring.
But math is incredibly useful in daily life. Ever half a recipe? Shop around for the best price? Determine the win-loss percentage of a team? Choose the most efficient route home? Calculate how much cold medicine you need to take? Figure out how much paint you need to buy or how many tickets to purchase? That’s math!
And just as important, learning math helps to develop crucial academic and social-emotional skills like critical thinking and problem-solving.
With all that in mind, we want to help change the narrative around math. We want youth (and adults!) to learn to love and appreciate math for its relevance to daily life, the skills that it teaches, and the doors that it opens. And what better day to start than on National Pi Day! Pi Day is an annual celebration of pi, which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
The first 3 digits of pi are 3.14 so the day is celebrated on March 14th (aka 3/14). Often restaurants will have deals on pie (pizza and dessert) making it the perfect opportunity to do a fun, high-yield math activity before celebrating with a delicious math-themed treat. Read on for activity ideas you can use with your youth to celebrate!
Count anything and everything!
As soon as younger kids learn to count, they seem to immediately become obsessed with counting anything and everything. Take advantage of this enthusiasm by giving them plenty of opportunities to practice!
How many people are wearing white shirts? How many tables and chairs are in this room? How many letters are in your name? How many crackers are in your snack pack? How many trees can you see from this window?
Bonus: This can be a great way to pass the time while standing in line or waiting for another activity to start.
Pi it up around the Club!
We are big fans of making educational skill-building fun by infusing it throughout the entire Club.
These two games familiarize youth with the infinite nature of pi, and require very little prep.
Hula hoops are circles, so that counts, right?
This graph paper art activity creates a skyline using the numbers of pi.
Integrate literacy and math with a read-aloud!
Stories can be a great way to introduce important mathematical concepts in a fun and unique way. From picture books about shapes to rhyming tales about time, there’s a story out there sure to delight! WeAreTeachers has a list of their favorites, but the obvious choice would be either of the first two books in the Sir Cumference series:
Listen to music (and dance)!
It might sound surprising, but music and math are closely connected. Musicians need basic math to be able to know how many beats to play in a measure and how long to hold them. Music is also filled with patterns, which mathematicians love! Fun fact: Studies show that some songs are more popular due to the specific patterns or rhythms they contain!
Teach a pattern (1, 2, 3; tap-tap-tap-tap; ta, ta, ti-ti, ta) and ask youth to listen for that pattern in a piece of music. Or better yet, play a piece of music and ask them to identify the pattern! (Just be sure to allow plenty of time for a dance party to accompany this activity!)
Memorize those digits!
A fun way to infuse some healthy competion that stretches those brain muscles is to hold a contest to see who can recite the most digits of pi. Here’s a single-page printout of some of the first few digits. Need a prize idea? How about a … PIE?
Cook a pie! Pizza or otherwise.
Cooking and baking are great ways to teach fractions, ratios, and measurement. So why not bake … a pizza pie!? (You knew that idea was coming.) Ask youth to double or triple the pizza dough recipe so there’s plenty for everyone to make their own individual pie. For an added challenge, ask them to measure out ingredients using only a ¼ teaspoon and ¼ measuring cup.
If you have older youth, a full kitchen, and the time, baking actual pies would be super fun. Bring in a family recipe, or use fruit local to your area to make personal connections. And don’t forget that chicken pot pie and shepherd’s pie exist! You could even use these mini disposable tart/pie pans for extra preciousness!
And voila – your Pi(e) Day is complete! We hope these ideas help you and your members to have some fun with math.
What are your favorite high-yield math activities? Do you celebrate any other weird but fun holidays? Share with us by commenting below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or by emailing ClubXBlog@bgca.org.