This 3-1-4 Number Challenge is the perfect way to challenge your brain on Pi Day! How many different numbers can you come up with mathematical expressions for using only the digits 3, 1, and 4?
Use the digits 3, 1, and 4 exactly one time each along with any mathematical symbol or operation of your choosing to create expressions equivalent to the given numbers.
Usually, I find that it helps to break down the instructions a bit more for my students.
- Each digit must be used exactly one time. You can’t use 4+1 as an expression for 5 since the digit 3 has not been used.
- Add your choice of mathematical symbols between the digits.
- Digits can be combined to make multi-digit numbers. This is known as concatenation. 3 and 1 can be combined to make either 31 or 13.
- Need more ideas? Exponents, square roots, and factorials might help!
Three Different Challenges to Choose From
For my high school students, I am challenging them to find expressions for each of the numbers between 1 and 30.
I created two additional versions that challenge students to find expressions for 1-10 and 1-20.
There are solutions to all of the numbers from 1 to 30. To be honest, there are solutions to all of the numbers from 1 to 38, but I thought that a 38 number challenge would be very strange.
If you are working with younger students, I would suggest giving them one of the shorter challenges.
If your students are not familiar with the concept of a factorial and you don’t want to introduce the idea to them, you will want to do the 1-10 challenge. All of the numbers from 1 to 10 can be found without using the factorial symbol.
Both the 1-20 and 1-30 challenge require the factorial symbol for some of the solutions.
I have also previously shared a printable factorial and double factorial chart which can be provided to students as a resource.
Presenting the 3-1-4 Pi Day Challenge to Students
My students will be on Spring Break on Pi Day, so I decided to put up the 3-1-4 Pi Day Challenge a week early.
I created a display on the dry erase board in my classroom.
I printed a poster with the name of the challenge and smaller posters with the rules of the challenge which I taped to the board. I printed these posters on colorful cardstock to help catch my students’ eyes.
Below the posters, I hung three posters for students to write their solutions on. I printed each one of these solution posters on 11 x 17 cardstock.
In the past when I have done number challenges like this, I have just printed the challenges on cardstock and had my students write directly on the cardstock. Inevitably, students would write their solutions on the wrong line or make a mistake while writing their solutions.
MATH = LOVE RECOMMENDS…
I cannot imagine teaching math without my dry erase pockets! They instantly make any activity more engaging and save me countless hours at the copy machine since I can use the same class sets of copies year after year.
Here are my current go-to recommendations:
Don’t want to go to the trouble of creating a classroom display? Just print and hand out the 3-1-4 Pi Day Challenge to your students.
Free Download of 3-1-4 Pi Day Number Challenge3-1-4 Pi Day Number Challenge Editable Files (Publisher ZIP) (840 downloads)
I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.
However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.
If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.
More Pi Day Activities
- 3-1-4 Pi Day Number Challenge
- Pi Puzzle for Pi Day
- Pentominoes Pi Symbol Puzzle
- Pi ku Poetry: Writing Pi Day Poems
- Pi Day Dice Challenge
- Ultimate Guide to Celebrating Pi Day
- Square Pi Puzzle
- Square Pi Day Puzzle
- Pi Clock Poster
- Pi Day Videos
- Seeing Pi Activity
- Pi Birthday Search Activity
- Pi Day Songs
- Tossing Pi Activity
- Cutting Pi Discovery Activity
- Pi Memorization Contest