Pumpkin Pi -- Fall Holidays and Circumference

By Stacey Burt on November 4, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, "tried" and "true": some things just go together. For instance, pumpkins and fall: it just makes sense. While planning for the upcoming weeks, I decided to incorporate activities that involved pumpkins into my math units. During my research, I ran across a photograph of a pumpkin with the Pi symbol carved into it, and that started the ball rolling. “Pumpkin Pi” for Thanksgiving. I loved it!

The photograph inspired me to take the Pumpkin Pi idea and combine it with a new Halloween tradition in my neighborhood: “booing.” Booing is like a chain letter, but with treats. One neighbor leaves an anonymous gift for another, with a poem instructing them to “boo” two other families. I took the booing concept  and adapted it for my 6th grade math classes, weaving in a lesson on circumference.

As a result, my math classes have started the tradition of “pi-ing” other classes. We modified the "booed" poem for the class to read before eating their goodies and created a sign to post outside their classroom door to let others know that they have been “pied.” While our upper grades probably have some experience with pi, I thought it would be a great introduction to circumference for the younger students.

We leave round goodies (e.g., Oreos, peanut butter cups, cookies, etc.) with the poem explaining that the pied class will have to calculate the circumference of their goodies before consuming them. As with booing, they're also instructed to keep the fun going by pi-ing two more classes (anonymously, of course).

Download the poem and a copy of the sign to put with the class’s goodies. You will need to change the name of the school to your own where it occurs in the poem, but then you'll be ready to go. Hope you enjoy the activity, and have a wonderful fall!

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