Math Holidays to Celebrate at School
There are a lot of celebrations during the school year in various subjects that are celebrated in schools. In reading, there’s Read Across America Week; history/social studies can easily observe any historical holiday such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Black History month; and in science, we often celebrate events like eclipses or rocket launches. But what about math holidays?
Though not as well known, there are actually several math holidays that take place throughout the year that we can easily celebrate with our students! One – Math 2.0 Day – actually takes place tomorrow on July 8th! Fortunately, there are many that occur during the school year, as well. As you’re planning for the year ahead, consider adding in some fun days for the mathematical celebrations.
1. Math Storytelling Day
Stories aren’t just for reading class! Math Storytelling Day takes place every year on September 25th. Celebrate this math holiday by reading math story books throughout the day. Here is a list that includes some of my favorites!
If you’re feeling really creative, consider having your students write their own math stories on this day, too! They could even act them out or draw pictures to go with them. Some of these math writing prompts may be helpful in getting students started on writing their own math story.
2. Celebration of Mind
Every year on October 21st, we observe the Celebration of Mind. The Celebration of Mind is an event organized by the Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation in honor of the American writer and recreational mathematics pioneer Martin Gardner. Celebration of Mind, or CoM, is a day for people to enjoy puzzles, games, math, and magic.
On or around this day, challenge your students with these math puzzles. You can also play math games – such as these card games or these dice games. Perhaps you could also bring in a local magician to show your students some tricks, or watch some magic videos on YouTube!
3. Fibonacci Day
Fibonacci Day takes place every year on November 23rd, because 11/23 is the first 4 digits of the Fibonacci sequence (minus 0). The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where each number is the sum of the previous 2 numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13….
A Fibonacci pattern is said to appear often in nature or biological sequences, oftentimes in a spiral or hexagonal form. It’s a little complicated to explain the math behind it – but here’s a fun activity you could use in your class without having to get into all the logistics:
First, have your students figure out the sequence of numbers as far as they can go. You might try just giving them the first few numbers, and letting them figure out the pattern themselves. Once your students have discovered the pattern, head outside and go on a nature walk.
While on the nature walk, have students look for things in spirals, or that contain a number from the Fibonacci sequence (i.e. a flower that has 13 petals).
4. Pythagorean Theorem Day
You don’t want to miss this one, because it won’t happen again until the year 2025! Pythagorean Theorem Day happens anytime the 3 numbers of the date line up with the Pythagorean Theorem (a2 + b2 = c2).
We will celebrate Pythagorean Theorem Day this year on December 16th, 2020 (12/16/20) because 122 + 162 = 202. Because the Pythagorean Theorem is the formula to figure out the missing side length of a triangle, make this day all about triangles!
Depending on the age of your students, actually using the Pythagorean Theorem may not be an option. Instead, you can do other activities using triangles such as making a triangle quilt or doing a scavenger hunt for triangles in the classroom or in nature. You can also celebrate Pythagoras’ Greek heritage by bringing in some Greek food!
Can you figure out when the next Pythagorean Theorem Day will be?
5. Pi Day
I’m sure we are all very familiar with Pi Day, celebrated yearly on March 14th! But did you know Pi Day can also be celebrated on July 22nd?
Some countries celebrate Pi Day on the date of the decimal representation of pi (3.14 = 3/14), and some celebrate it on the fractional representation of pi (22/7 = 22nd of July) because of how different countries represent dates.
If you ask me, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t celebrate both! If you want to celebrate Pi Day in your classroom, this would be a fun day to do activities with circles. Read Sir Cumference books to your class and learn about circles. And of course, don’t forget to bring in some pie!
6. Mathematics & Statistics Awareness Month
Lastly, April is Mathematics & Statistics Awareness Month. If you’re an elementary teacher, you probably don’t do much with statistics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate this month!
Even in elementary school, we can still play games or participate in activities that have a connection to statistics and probability! Some examples of this would be playing the dice game SNAKE, or analyzing and interpreting weather patterns and making predictions.
Celebrating these math holidays in your classroom can be a great way to switch up your typical math instruction and have some fun, while still creating meaningful connections. Which of these math holidays will you celebrate this year? Share what you plan to do for each one in the comments!
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