Thinking Thursday: Math Pietry

“Journaling Prompt #227 Math Pietry” is an excerpt from Task Cards Book #5, available as a digital printable activity guide at my bookstore. Read more about my playful math books here.

Do you want your children to develop the ability to reason creatively and figure out things on their own?

Help kids practice slowing down and taking the time to fully comprehend a math topic or problem-solving situation with these classic tools of learning: See. Wonder. Create.

See: Look carefully at the details of the numbers, shapes, or patterns you see. What are their attributes? How do they relate to each other? Also notice the details of your own mathematical thinking. How do you respond to a tough problem? Which responses are most helpful? Where did you get confused, or what makes you feel discouraged?

Wonder: Ask the journalist’s questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how? Who might need to know about this topic? Where might we see it in the real world? When would things happen this way? What other way might they happen? Why? What if we changed the situation? How might we change it? What would happen then? How might we figure it out?

Create: Create a description, summary, or explanation of what you learned. Make your own related math puzzle, problem, art, poetry, story, game, etc. Or create something totally unrelated, whatever idea may have sparked in your mind.

Math journaling may seem to focus on this third tool, creation. But even with artistic design prompts, we need the first two tools because they lay a solid groundwork to support the child’s imagination.

How To Use a Writing Prompt

Writing helps students stretch their thinking and make sense of new ideas.

When students wrestle their thoughts into shape and create explanations, they do the same sort of work that mathematicians do every day. It’s difficult for children (or anyone) to capture a thought and cage it in words. But it’s great practice for life.

Students may supplement their writing with illustrations. Sketch drawings can be a wonderful aid to mathematical thinking.

For the poetry prompts, students should aim for evocative descriptions, vivid verbs, and playful words. If your child can’t think of where to start a poem, try brainstorming a list of sensory details.

You may reuse writing prompts as often as you like. Change the question, if you wish — but even when the prompt remains the same, the students have changed since the last time they wrote about it. Today is a new day, so they are seeing with fresh eyes and thinking different thoughts.

Journaling Prompt #227 Math Pietry

Write a math poem (any form) about the number pi, which is how many times you have to walk across a circle to equal one time walking around its edge.
Pi = circumference ÷ diameter
Or write a pi mnemonic, where each word has as many letters as that digit of pi: 3.1415926…
Or try pi-ku, a haiku-like poem where each line has syllables matching one of the digits of pi. For a six-line pi-ku, arrange your thoughts in a 3–1–4–1–5–9 pattern.

For example…

Journaling Pi-ku
Math makers
Thoughts into words
Create something new,
Exploring numbers, shapes, and patterns.

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