Saturday, September 9, 2017

Create "Pi Poems" with Google Sheets

A poem can take on many different forms: sonnet, limerick, haiku, free verse, acrostic, and more. One fun form of poetry that mixes writing and math is the "Pi Poem".

A "Pi Poem" is composed of words where the length of each word is equal to each digit of pi in order. So for example, the beginning of the poem would be made of a 3-letter word, 1-letter word, 4-letter word, 1-letter word, and 5-letter word, for the beginning of pi which starts as 3.1415. Punctuation doesn't count.

This fun student writing activity could plug into the school year in several places:
  • During your poetry unit
  • National Poetry Month in April
  • When working on vocabulary skills, especially synonyms
  • When teaching about pi in math class
  • For "Pi Day" each year on March 14th
  • Anytime you are looking for a fun cross-curriculum activity for math and ELA

To help with this activity, I have created a Google Sheets "Pi Poem" template. The template makes it easier to create your poem with helpful boxes for each letter of each word. See below to get your own copy of the template, directions for use, some other helpful tech hints for the project, and a sample finished product.

Copy the "Pi Poem" Template

For this particular activity, I chose Google Sheets to make the template. Each cell is used for one letter, and the cells are highlighted to help show how long the words need to be for each line.

To get your own copy of the template simply click the link below.

Using the "Pi Poem" Template

The template is set up as follows:

  • The first column lists the digits of pi in order.
  • The next set of columns have spaces for you to type in the letters for your words, with cells grayed out to indicate the required length of each word.
  • The next column is titled "Text" and is where you can write the final word for each digit, along with any needed capitalization or punctuation.
  • The final column is titled "Notes" and can simply be used to jot down ideas, possible words, or other helpful thoughts while working on the poem.

The first 32 digits of pi are numbers from 1 through 9. However, the 33rd digit is a zero. Since you can't have a word that is zero letters long, the template ends at 32 words.

This is probably long enough anyway, as it is quite a challenge to come up with words that fit the required length, while making reasonable sense. Students can create a poem up to 32 words long or can stop shorter if desired.

Note: Punctuation does not count toward the word lengths. Students can add in commas, periods, apostrophes, and such as needed.

Thesaurus Help

When creating a "Pi Poem" it will be necessary for the students to stretch their vocabulary skills and make good use of synonyms. Since the words have to fit within very strict length limits, students will often need to think of alternate words to use.

A great tool to help with this process would be a digital thesaurus. There are many such sites, but one I have had good success with is:

This site allows students to type in a word and get a detailed list of synonyms and related words.

Presenting your Poem

After using the Google Sheets template to create a "Pi Poem" the students may want to present their creation in a more attractive format. Two possible tools to consider would be Google Docs and Google Drawings.

Google Docs

  • The poem can be copied from the spreadsheet template by copying the "Text" column. 
  • When pasting the poem into a Google Doc, the student will want to choose "Edit" then "Paste without formatting" to just paste the text and not the spreadsheet grid.

Google Drawings

  • If the student would like a little more flexibility with their layout, they may want to use a Google Drawing instead. 
  • Drawing allows for images, shapes, and text boxes to be placed anywhere, layered, rotated, and more. 
  • For more details on how to do this, see my earlier post "Making Posters with Google Drawings"

Regardless of which tool is chosen, be sure to be creative with font choice, colors, images, and layout when creating the poem.

Sample Pi Poem

For my sample poem, I actually went with the topic of "pie", as well as "pi". See below for the final product, which I put into a Google Drawing. You can also download a poster-sized PDF version.

If your students create some "Pi Poems" please consider sharing links to their final products in the comments below. I would love to see what they create!

Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at 

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