Menlo Park Kids Enter Weekly Word Problem Cupcake Drawing

Everyone knows that is vitally important to practice math on a regular basis. Mathnasium of Palo Alto Menlo Park has recently introduced a fantastic way to encourage your children to practice working with word problems every week. Word problems can be one of the most daunting challenges math students face: according to Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park Owner/Director Cathy Umana, “Of elementary and middle school students, over 90% struggle with word problems.” If your child struggles with word problems, make sure you give them as much support as possible. Word problems are an important precursor to real life problem solving, so it is important that your child have a strong foundation.


Word Problems + Probability = Cupcake!



Motivate your kid to practice word problems with cupcakes!

Photo from

In order to ensure your child overcomes this important hurdle, it is important to incorporate practicing word problems into your child’s routine. One great way practice word problems on a weekly basis it by going to the Mathnasium website and printing out the weekly word problems to do. Each week, 4 word problems are posted on the website, separated by grade level. Encourage your child to do the word problem at their grade level as well as the one above. What’s more, each week your child correctly answers a word problem, they are entered drawing for a free SusieCakes cupcake. This way, they are being challenged every week, not only by doing a word problem, something that the majority of students struggle with, but by stepping a little outside their comfort zone by doing a higher-level word problem. After a a month or two of doing word problems each week, your child will be well on their way to becoming an even stronger math student and an expert at solving word problems.

Mathin’ Catherin, April 4, 2013


Learn Math in the Bay Area through Strikes and Balls

Although millions of Americans find baseball to be an exciting and fun game, kids can sometimes get a little bored by the sixth inning of a long game. And if you’re looking for a way to keep the kids entertained and help them learn at the same time, what better what to fix this problem than by giving them some baseball math to work with as the pitches are thrown? Here’s some of the best statistics to record while watching Bay Area baseball.

Counting more than just Three Strikes

In an average baseball game, each team throws about 146 pitches, each either a ball, a strike, or a hit. The San Francisco Giants, right at the heart of the Bay Area, have a fantastic pitching staff, making their pitches especially fun to count. For each pitcher, have the kids do some math with the numbers of strikes, balls, and hits they allow. Then figure out which type of pitch is most effective, and if they throw more strikes or allow more hits against right or left-handed batters. You may end up with some interesting conclusions; for example, a pitcher could average as many strikes as balls, but still only strike out four or five batters over the whole game. This offers a great introduction into statistics, and we at Mathnasium would love to build upon the understanding they gain at the ballpark!

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

A Good Night on the Mound?

pitching math in the bay area

Picture of Barry Zito by WeeHagis on flickr

If your child is extra ambitions, they can compare a pitcher’s performance in that game with their past performance. For example, Barry Zito, who used to pitch with the Oakland A’s on the other side of the Bay Area, has a career WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) of 1.31 over his 401 starts (be glad you’re not the one who has to do the math to find that out!). To calculate a pitcher’s WHIP in one game, use the formula (Walks + Hits)/# of innings they pitched (note that the innings pitched could be a fraction, based on how many outs there were when the pitcher left). If Barry Zito had a WHIP of only 1.1, how much better is this than his career average? The answer may require a calculator, but if your kid can figure out that this is 17% better than average, buy them a hot dog! This is only one of the ways to learn math at a Giants game, but it can definitely increase a kid’s understanding in a fun way.

Mathin’ with Enchiladas at Cafe Del Sol

Looking for a great restaurant in downtown Menlo park? Cafe del Sol is a great place to go if you love Mexican food and want to apply your math skills to the real world. One of my favorite dishes to get there is the Enchiladas de Mariscos. These tasty enchiladas are expertly made of grilled red snapper and shrimp marinated in grilled adobe sauce all wrapped in a flour tortilla, covered in a delicious sauce and served with a side of rice.

Waiting to order? Have the kids estimate the bill!

A great way to get your kids introduced to the many ways math is used in the real world is by having them practice calculating the price of food or by asking them how much they could buy at a store with a certain amount of money. Practice makes perfect, and the younger your child starts to practice solving real world math problems, the more savvy they will become with their savings. This is one of the most useful tactics we use to make math interesting for kids in our Menlo Park Mathnasium center, but parents can give their kids even more practice in daily life. A great place to practice this important skill is at Cafe del Sol in Menlo Park, which has a old-fashioned ambiance, friendly and knowledgeable waitstaff, and delicious enchiladas. Make sure to take your child to Cafe del Sol so they can apply their math skills.

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

Apply Your Math Skills

The possibilities for practicing math skills at a great Menlo Park restaurant like this are almost endless, but here are some ideas for questions you can ask your kids:

You order two Enchiladas de Mariscos at $14.00 each to share between the three people, how much will the bill be and how much enchilada will each person get?

If you order a vegetarian burrito for $5.65 and a seafood burrito for $7.45, how much (rounded to the nearest dollar) will the two burritos cost?

If you order a hot tea at $3.75 each, and a beef taco for $4.35, how much will the bill be, rounded to the nearest dollar?

Math fun with Enchiladas in Menlo Park

By Steve Dunham on Flickr as Enchiladas Suizas

Read more about Cafe del Sol on Yelp!

Milkshakes & Math Games at Palo Alto’s Peninsula Creamery!

math game milkshake multiplication divison

We all know and love the famously delicious milkshakes at Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto. It not only serves great shakes, but is also a great family-friendly place to bring your children! Here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park we encourage kids to do math in real-world settings, and what better time to do some math than when enjoying a milkshake? Here is a fun way to incorporate division and multiplication into a fun math game for your 2nd – 5th grader for your next trip to Peninsula Creamery.

Milkshake Math Game with Division & Multiplication:

One Peninsula Creamery milkshake costs $5.25 for 20 ounces. Try dividing by the number of people at your table to see how many ounces of milkshake each person gets!

If your child is ready for some more difficult problems, try finding how much the milkshake costs per ounce! How much will each person have to chip in to pay for it? These kind of math questions help show the connection between math and the real world—math is everywhere!

Math games like this are fun to do and easy to play with your child at your favorite restaurant, whether it be Palo Alto’s Peninsula Creamery or otherwise!

> Learn more about Math Games in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

~ Mathin’ Catherine

No Summer Brain Drain in Mathnasium

Avoid the summer brain drain at Mathnasium! Students lose up to 27% of the math concepts learned during the year in the summer if they are not actively using the knowledge that they gained over the school year. The 27% of material is the equivalent of 2.5 months, which is a lot of material to lose. Avoid the potential disaster of starting the school year months behind by signing up for Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park’s 8 or 16 session summer pass. This session pass allows your child to receive 8-16 hours of personalized instruction.

Learn more about the Mathnasium Method

Reinforce Concepts and Get Ahead in Math!

Mathnasium helps kids learn and reinforce concepts by doing an initial assessment to see which concepts they need help on and which concepts they are proficient in. By identifying the concepts the student struggles with early on, Mathnasium is able to create a personalized curriculum for each student. This allows each student to learn the concepts they are struggling with at their own pace, an opportunity not often afforded in school. When they have mastered the material they initially struggled with they take the next grade level proficiency test and work on the next concepts they struggle with or have not yet learned.

Plan Ahead for Summer and Next Fall

Learn more about our summer programs

Help your child this upcoming school year by planning ahead. Help them with the concepts they struggled with this past school year, and prepare them for the next years material at the same time. Outside of school and Mathnasium, encourage your child to use their knowledge of percentage to calculate clothing markdowns of 25% when you are going shopping. Incorporating math into your child’s everyday life will help them hone their math skills and also allow them to become more comfortable incorporating math into their lives all the time.


Feeing tricky, Palo Alto? Teach your kids my favorite math card trick!

Counting cards may seem a bit unsportsmanlike, but it’s a great way to encourage math and learning with our kids. This trick is one my granddad used to show me, and I was amazed when he time after time would correctly guess my lucky card. I love that anyone can flaunt their flawless magician skills with just a simple deck of cards! Here’s how to impress your kids and get them excited for some tricky math card trick magic.

Classic math card trick for Palo Alto kids!

Use 21 cards from a deck of any kind.

1. Deal the cards into three piles face up, laid out long ways.
2. Have your foolish friend pick a “magic card” and point to which pile it’s in.
3. Pick up the piles one by one, putting the second pile in the middle.
4. Repeat process two more times with the same “magic card.”
5. Pick up cards and lay them down one by one: The magic card is card number 11!

Palo Alto math card trick

Do your cunning Palo Alto kids love magic and want more?
At Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park, we love the Children’s Library in Palo Alto, which is right across from the main library. Check out some magic books and learn the tricks at home! And if you haven’t already, be sure to pop in to the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo to look around.

> Learn more about Math Fun in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 4/2013

Fun Menlo Park Math Tea Party

Math can be very challenging for kids who do not enjoy or struggle with math. Kids love having fun, and Mathnasium has used this finding to its advantage, teaching kids math in a way that is fresh and fun.

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 4/4/2013

Kids Love to Learn when Learning is fun!

One of the best way for kids to learn math is when they are having fun. That is part of the reason that mathnasium game nights have been so successful. What better way to learn math than by doing math with friends. We’ve seen great results in our students after they go to math game nights and able to socialize with their friends as well as practice their math skills. Besides, research shows that memories stick for longer periods of time when they are learned in association with smells or tastes. At the math game nights mathnasium hosts, kids get complimentary hot chocolate and pastries, so whenever they eat a pastry or drink hot chocolate, they are likely to remember the concepts learned when they were at game night!

Learn more about Mathnasium’s game nights: math game nights

Tea Party Game Nights near Atherton/Menlo Park

Every month, Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park hosts a game night every month. Mathnasium is hosting a Tea Party Game Night at Cafe Zoe on Sunday, April 7, 2013 and we would absolutely love to see you there! Mathnasium students grades 2-5 are encouraged to come and bring their friends. Be sure to wear your top hat, fancy dresses and bring a British accent in your handkerchief! Kids will have the opportunity to try teas of different varieties and sample scones.


Math’s Favorite Sport: Learning with Baseball in the Bay Area

Spring is in full swing, and so are the bats of baseball teams across the country. The Major League Baseball 2013 season is underway, and fans of every team are once again rabid with enthusiasm. However, baseball offers a chance for the more intellectually inclined to have fun with sports as well, especially through mathematics. Here are some fun ways that you and your children can use baseball to learn math in the Bay Area, and become a better fan in the process!

America’s Sport, a Statistician’s Dream

The game of baseball has long been known for the plethora of statistics and numbers associated with it. In fact, sportswriter Leonard Koppett stated that “Statistics are the lifeblood of baseball.” This connection was only further reinforced to the public in the 2011 movie Moneyball, featuring the local Oakland Athletics on the East Bay area. Although some people actually make a living calculating

math at the ball park

Image from

batting averages, on base percentages, allowed runs per inning, and far more arcane numbers, normal baseball fans and their kids can get in on the action just by keeping track of their favorite teams. The Sports sections of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News will catalog not only wins, losses, and winning percentages, but also batting averages and individual pitchers’ win records. Explain the simpler ones to your kid, and give them the formulas; for example, batting average is a batter’s number of hits/number of at-bats, whereas the on-base-percentage would be (number of base hits + walks + hit by pitch)/number of at-bats. While watching a game at home or in a restaurant in Palo Alto or Menlo Park, the announcers will often give much more unusual numbers, like a batter’s hits against a given pitcher. If your kids are interested, they can follow these too!

Make the Ballpark a Classroom!

Baseball games have always been a great way to spend a day with the family, but with the right attitude, you can use the opportunity to get your kids interested in math and give them some math help too! The Bay Area has two Major League Teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. Take a fun math trip up to ATT Park in downtown San Francisco, only 40 minutes north of Palo Alto and our Menlo Park Mathnasium center. During the game, have your kid keep track of the batting averages of their favorite players: count the number of at-bats and calculate the fraction of those times when the player got hits or walks. If they’re extra motivated, keep track of the pitcher’s performance: how many strikeouts did Matt Cain throw, and how many hits did he give up? At the end of the game, they can create averages for runs, hits, and strikeouts per inning for both teams (hopefully they will be higher for the team you’re rooting for!). If you record some statistics from any Bay Area baseball game, you can bring them into our Mathnasium center in Menlo Park and our instructors will create a lesson on probability and statistics for some extra math help!

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 4/2/2013