Math art projects like this Pi Skyline are my favorite way to get my older son’s creative juices flowing. It’s also a great Pi Day activity! My little math nerd loves making tessellations, spirolaterals, drawing with a compass and other math tools. The idea of creating a cityscape out of graphing the numbers in pi was something we invented last year to celebrate Pi Day (March 14). We tried it again this past week and Kiddo was even more into it!
Kids don’t need to be advanced mathematicians to participate in this math art project, and of course it is easily adaptable for kids of all ages. Kids can make graphed skylines with any series of numbers but it becomes much more fun as a way to celebrate Pi Day and you need a creative Pi Day project. (Side note: once you and your kids have explored pi, be sure to move on to a Fibonacci art project!)
Pi, or π, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. It is an irrational number, a little mystifying and a whole lot of fun to use in art.
Pi Math Art
What you need:
- A printout of pi. I used this one at 10 Minute Math.
- Markers in different colors
- Graph paper
- Math-crazed (or not) kids
How to make a Pi Skyline
Each building in the Pi cityscape represents a number in pi. Color in the number of squares on the graph paper that correspond to each digit of pi. Kiddo also decided to make a black dot to represent the decimal point. Kids can fill in columns of squares for as many digits as they wish. My son decided he would finish all the numbers on our two page printout. It took him two days, but he did it! (I did not have so much patience.)
I worked alongside Kiddo on my own pi day skyline for a while. It helps focus him on an art project if I work next to him. I used watercolors to create a night sky and river and glued my cut out shadow city on to it. You can’t tell much in the photo, but I like how the two rows of graph paper form the base of the city.
Plus don’t forget the pi stars for a little “pi in the sky”!
Watch the video!
Note: I’ve gotten some queries about the art supplies in the video. Here’s a list. (Affiliate links.)
- Watercolor palette. I love how many colors there are!!
- Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens. These are by far my favorite markers ever. They come in several widths and all sizes are glorious to use. The ones in the video are the Big Brush size.
- Watercolor brush pens. These are an interesting way to switch things up.
- Prismacolor premier markers. These are waterproof and I like to use them when I use watercolors. They are a nice alternative to Sharpies, and the dual tip ends make them more useful.
- Strathmore Visual Journal Mixed Media. We have tons of these. I have written about them several times on this blog. You can’t go wrong with this art journal.
If you look closely you can see the stars are actually π. π in the sky, my friends.
Pi Math Art variations
There are so many ways you could adapt this. Glue squares of paper to create a collage cityscape of pi, or use paints, watercolors, or even sculpt it. You could even use LEGO to build a 3D version! I think buildings made with different colored squares corresponding to pi would be awesome!
Other Pi Day Ideas
Make a paper chain or beaded necklace in which each color in the chain represents a number.
Have a contest to see who can memorize the most numbers in pi. We did this last year and Kiddo beat me handily.
See our full list of pi day activities.
Show your kids these awesome color visualizations of π data.
How are you celebrating Pi Day?