On Friday, March 14th, known to all math enthusiasts as "Pi Day," I held a special event for preschoolers. Yup. Preschoolers. Now we didn't go too deep into how exactly one would use pi, but we did have a lot of fun and we learned some things too!
To start, I gathered everyone around a small parachute (6' diameter) that I had laid on the ground. I read the book 600 Black Spots by David Carter, but Press Here by Hervé Tullet would be another read-aloud for Pi Day. Next, I showed a picture of the pi symbol and talked about what a symbol was, and then we read out loud the first 12 digits in the number.
After that, I had all the kids stand up around the parachute. I had one volunteer walk around the outside of the whole circle to demonstrate circumference. (Of course we had to practice saying the big vocabulary words!) Next I grabbed a ball of yarn and had two children on the opposite sides of the circle hold onto the string to demonstrate diameter. Then one of the children moved into the center of the circle to demonstrate radius.
I happen to have a very bright 5 year old who does math with his dad every morning that attends many library programs. It was at this point that he piped up "and the area of the circle is pr2!" and several heads turned in the room. :)
After the large group discussion, I had several activities for families to work through at their own pace.
Activity 1: Fraction Paper Plates
Simply cut up paper plates into halves, thirds, etc. You can practice trying to create a whole, or just match the same size fractions together.
Activity 2: Circle Pattern Worksheet
Color the pattern worksheet and create your own. Sequencing is a great beginning math skill. I also set out a pattern matching game I have.
Activity 3: Cup Paintings
We're all about circles today! Paint, some big pieces of paper, and cups of various sizes.
Activity 4: Pi Day Bracelets
I set out some stretchy elastic cord and beads. The person who posted about this idea had kids create pattern using the digits in Pi, but I just stressed the fact that a bracelet was a circle with the preschoolers.
Activity 5: Yarn Measurements
I set out various round objects, rulers, and string. The idea is that if you measure the circumference of a round object and then cut the string into 3 equal parts. Each piece of the string will be just a little bit bigger than the diameter of the object you measured. (The exact difference it is bigger is equal to pi).
Activity 6: Create Your Own Pie
I tried to come up with the simplest "pie" resembling snack I could, so I purchased mini pre-made graham cracker crusts, pudding cups, and a can of whipped cream. I dumped several pudding cups (I stuck to vanilla, butterscotch, and chocolate flavors) into a bowl so caregivers didn't feel obligated to encourage their child to use an entire pudding cup worth of pudding if they didn't want. The plastic dividers inserted between the crusts made perfect little lids for the families who wanted to take their pies home rather than eat them right before lunch. I also provided lunch bags for them to take them home in.