Wondering how to celebrate Pi Day and introduce Pi to kids? Make an apple Pi pie and try these other fun Pi activities!
Celebrate pi day apple pi pie with kids
March 14th is Pi Day, as the date of the third month and fourteenth day, 3/14, matches the first three digits of Pi, 3.14.
Even more exciting for math geeks (be proud!), in 2015 at 9:26:53 there will be a beautiful line up of even more of the digits of Pi: 3.141592653.
Pi Day is a great day to try some fun math, try something different to your usual lesson, and celebrate by eating pie! What’s not to love?
What is Pi?
In case you can’t remember your high school math, Pi, as defined over at Wikipedia is:
The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159.
Pi is used in geometry, physics, biochemistry and engineering. And in architecture, medicine, and population studies. And by clock designers, aeroplane manufacturers and artists. It’s a good number.
Watch this video of Reynaldo Lopes explaining Pi.
How to celebrate Pi Day
Celebrating Pi with pie is a match made in heaven. Cooking is a fantastic way to show children how relevant math is to every day life, and following a simple recipe can incorporate many aspects of math. Here’s an easy recipe for apple Pi pie, plus other ideas you can use to introduce Pi to your children in a fun and relevant way. As you bake, challenge your kids to see spot all the times they use math as part of the process.
To make our apple Pi pie, we started with a simple pastry recipe. Use scales to weight out the ingredients.
We used 8oz (225g or 1 1/2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour and 4oz (110g or 1 stick) butter for pie tin with a diameter of 20cm.
Rub the butter into the flour using your finger tips. You can skip count as you rub!
Then add just a little milk and bring the dough together to make a ball (kind of like an oblate spheroid in shape). Wrap the pastry in cling film and place it in the fridge for a little while.
Next, chop the apples for your filling. We used 6 large apples. Peel them and chop into halves, then quarters, then eights, sixteenths….until you have lots of small pieces. Place them in a pan and cook them gently over a low heat until they soften. Stir them every so often so they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan and burn.
While the apples are cooking, take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out to make the base for your pie. Try to keep your pastry in a circle as you roll it out.
Rub a pie tin with butter, which will help to stop the pie getting stuck in the tin. Using cling film underneath the pastry as you roll it out makes it much easier to lift and place in your pie tin.
Trim the extra pastry from around the circumference of your pie tin with a knife.
Poke the base of your pie with a fork, to help stop it puffing up, and then bake your empty pie base at 220 C / 400F / Gas 6 for about 15 minutes. This is called blind baking and will give you a crisp pie base rather than a soggy one.
Then, along comes Pi. How much pastry will you need to line the rim of your pie? Hmmmm?
Measure the diameter of your pie tin. Then multiply by Pi. For a 20cm diameter tin, that’s 20 x 3.14 = 62.8cm of pastry that you’ll need.
Measure it out….
fill your pie with your softened apple filling, and use Pi to decorate your pie.
You can use the extra pastry to add some diameters and radiuses / radii on top of your pie.
Pop the pie back in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes, and then slice into sectors and serve. Happy Pi Day!
More ideas to introduce Pi to children and celebrate Pi Day
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (affiliate link) is a great book to read to introduce Pi to children. My girls love learning through stories, and this is a fun adventure that smoothly incorporates math concepts within the tale. I read it with my 8- and 12-year-old (I think it’s suitable for younger children too) and they enjoyed the book as a story in its own right, and it really helped them to grasp the concepts of radius, diameter, circumference and Pi.
Make a visual representation of Pi.
Tell Pi jokes!
Make a pizza Pi pie.
Make a Pi bracelet.
More creative math activities
If you like combining math and art, and if you’re looking for play-based exploration and discovery of math and science concepts, come and take a look at our Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities.
And for more math-meets art resources, join my ART of CIRCLES workshop.