# “Mathing” with your 2nd-3rd Grader at Palo Alto’s O Sushi House!

O Sushi House’s sashimi combo. Photo by Baha C. on Yelp

Palo Alto has a multitude of amazing restaurants, but few can rival O Sushi House on University Ave! Their delicious udon soup, fresh sushi, and crisp edamame can make anyone hungry, and it’s a great place to bring the kids for some new math experiences. Using math in real-life situations with your 2nd to 3rd grader is important to show them how math can be used everywhere, and can get them excited about learning! Here’s some pointers to make your next trip to O Sushi House the most educational one yet:

• Order some sushi to share (O Sushi House makes a mean California roll) and calculate what fraction of sushi rolls each person can eat.
• Calculate how many delicious edamame pods you receive. Strengthen your child’s multiplication skills by asking, “if each edamame pod has 2 beans, how many beans are there in total?” Then, what about if each pod has 3 beans?
• Have your 2nd/3rd grader calculate the tip for your meal! For a 15% tip, on for example a \$34 bill, find 10% (\$3.40) then half that to find 5% (\$1.70), then add the two together to get 15%, in this case, \$5.10! For 20% on the same bill, find 10% again (\$3.40) then double it, for a \$6.80 tip!
• Calculate the entire time you spent at O Sushi House, versus the time you actually spent eating. What fraction of time was spent  eating? What fraction of time was spent waiting? See if your child can convert this into a percentage!

For kids who struggle with math, this can be a fun way to work on improving their skills and attitude on math in a classroom-free environment. What tips have worked for you for helping your kids get excited about math?

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/2013

# Heads up Palo Alto Parents! How to Keep Away Summer Brain Drain

“Summer brain drain” is a problem kids everywhere face when they return to school in the fall. According to a segment on The Early Show on CBS News, “Each fall teachers across the nation regularly spend six weeks going over the exact same lessons students learn the previous year.” Why? Because every summer, kids lose on average 2 months worth of information they learned in school. Ron Fairchild, executive director at John Hopkins University’s Center for Summer Learning explains, “If we thought about a professional athlete or a professional musician, we would expect that person’s performance to suffer if they took a three-month break from training or from practice, and the same thing happens for kids when they’re not engaged in constructive learning activities over the summer.”

Don’t let your math knowledge melt away like a popsicle!
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Here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park, we encourage parents to help their child keep up with learning over the summer to prevent the dreaded “brain drain.” Below are some tips to keep your child engaged over the next few summer months!

## How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain!

• Take a day to travel up to San Francisco to visit the Exploratorium, Cable Car Museum, SFMOMA, or even visit Alcatraz!
• There are some great kid-friendly museums in San Jose too! Try out the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, or the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum for the history buffs.
• Or, stay in Palo Alto and visit the Computer History Museum for some guaranteed fun with your tech-savvy kids!
• Find some fun summer day-camps for your kid! These days there’s types of camps for every kid, ask your child what sort of activities they would be interested in doing! See what kind of camps revolve around your child’s favorite class, whether it be math, science, or something else.
• Practice math in a casual environment to show how math skills important and used every day. Have your child help you calculate the tip on breakfast at the Palo Alto Peninsula Creamery, or help them find out what fraction of your groceries are fruits and vegetables. Make a countdown of how many days of summer are left! What about weeks of summer? This is a great way to prevent math brain drain over the summer!

As parents, what sort of activities have your children enjoyed over the summer in the past?  Hope these tips help you avoid summer brain drain!

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/27/2013

# Talking “Math” with your Child’s Palo Alto/Menlo Park Math Teacher

Contrary to what you might think, summer is a great time to get your kid excited about math–especially if they’re not too thrilled about their current math class at school. By encouraging “mathing” in a fun and stress-free environment, you can change your child’s attitude about math over the break! Before school is let out for the summer, you may want to schedule a meeting with your child’s Palo Alto or Menlo Park math teacher to discuss your child’s performance this year and how you can continue their learning over the summer. Below are some tips to make your meeting be as helpful for you as possible!

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## Tips for a Successful Meeting with your Child’s Math Teacher

• First thing’s first, set up a meeting! Ask the teacher about what topics were taught during the school year and what specific topics your child struggled with, if any.
• This is a great opportunity to get some helpful new ideas for math games or activities you and your kid can do together over the summer break, as well as some tips on how to improve your child’s attitude towards math, or “mathitude.”
• Talk to your child’s math teacher about whether tutoring over the summer break would be a helpful option for preventing “summer brain drain.” Studies show that kids lose about 20% of the information they learned during the school year during the summer, but tutoring centers such as Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park can prevent this!

## Prevent Summer Brain Drain!

Don’t let the all the school-year’s learning go to waste during summer break! Check out some of the fun math games you can play with your kid during the summer months, such as the Groups of 10 Dice Game, Math Game Madness, or even “PIG!” Or, try using math in a natural setting, such as calculating the bill at a restaurant, or doubling a recipe you both love to practice measurements and fractions! Talk with your child’s math teacher about more suggestions on how to keep “mathing” over the summer!

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/2013

# Summer Break is Almost Here, Palo Alto! Keep Math on the Brain with “Times Attack!”

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Spring is here and school is almost over! Looking for a way to keep your child engaged with math over the summer break? Here’s a quick run-down of our new multiplication math game: Times Attack!

Here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park, kids love playing Times Attack! This math game is fun and easy to play anywhere—all you need is a deck of cards! Whether it’s to strengthen your child’s multiplication skills or to just make math more fun, this game is sure to help with both!

Here are the simple instructions:

## How to Play “Times Attack” Multiplication Game:

1. Take out all face-cards from a deck of cards. Aces can count as ones!
2. Put the entire deck face down on the table, and then each player (2-3 people) takes two cards from the deck.
3. Each player multiplies the two cards together. Whoever has the highest product wins, and can take everyone else’s cards!
4. Compete until you run out of cards. The person with the most cards wins the game!
5. In case of a tie, each player turns takes two more cards and finds the product. The player with the higher product takes all the cards from both plays.

I think the best part of Times Attack is its simplicity—it’s an easy-to-learn game and can be played wherever and whenever you want! For younger kids, you can easily mold the game for addition as well; just add the two cards together to find the sum!

~ Mathin’ Catherine 5/2013

# Could the Benefits of Math Tutoring Rely on Brain Size & Wiring? Stanford Scientists Have the Answer!

Recently, scientists at Stanford have discovered new and exciting information on exactly how effective math tutoring can be! By tutoring twenty-four 8-9 year olds in math over eight weeks, the children improved on average 67%, the lowest being 8% and the highest being 198%. Why the big difference? Stanford researchers seem to have the answer!

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## The Answer’s in the Hippocampus!

“A larger hippocampus, considered one of the brain’s most important memory centers, was the best predictor of improvement with tutoring,” stated Sue Dremann in her article entitled “Benefits of math tutoring depend on brain-region size, wiring” in Palo Alto Weekly.

The scientists used brain scans to look at the kid’s ability to do and learn math, and how their brains functioned and were structured. By analyzing the children’s brain scans, the researchers were able to predict how effective math tutoring would be simply depending on the size of the hippocampus and the wiring of the brain! The type of math tutoring the children received also affected the results. The 24 kids were tutored by doing and repeating speed-problems in order to make the answers automatic. “Once kids are able to pull up answers to basic arithmetic problems automatically from memory, their brains can tackle more complex problems,” explains Dremann.

## How Does This Math Tutoring Discovery Affect You?

This discovery is very important for new math tutoring techniques to help children struggling with math everywhere! Says Vinod Menon, a professor at Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, “We can actually predict how much a child is going to learn during eight weeks of math tutoring based on measures of brain structure and connectivity.” By studying how tutoring can alter brain wiring, these Stanford scientists plan to tackle how to train the brain to help kids learn math, at all learning levels and ages!

Can’t wait to hear more about new tutoring methods! As a parent, what learning methods worked for you, and what tutoring methods work best for your kids?

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/16/2013

# Find Groups of 10 in this Dice Game for Kindergarteners to 2nd Graders!

Hey Menlo Park and Palo Alto parents! Keeping your kids on top in math can be a struggle, and making math fun can be even harder! Here’s a dice game we at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park use all the time to help strengthen basic addition skills–all it requires is 15 dice and a piece of paper! Adding to find groups of 10 is a skill that comes in handy for kids of all ages, and is needed to build more difficult math skills later on. Here’s directions below to our very own dice game for your kindergartner through 2nd grader: Dice Dilemma!

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## Dice Dilemma Directions:

1. Roll 15 dice, and sort into groups that add up to 10. (Some groups may have more than two dice!) There may be some dice left over that cannot add up to 10.
2. Add all the dice together, including the leftover dice, and write the number on a sheet of paper divided into 8 sections.
3. Continue until all sections are full, then use scissors to cut each number section out.
4. Sort the numbers from least to greatest!

What was the largest and smallest number you found? What do you think is the smallest number you could get? Biggest? Try finding groups of 15 or 20 for an extra challenge, or use extra dice! This dice game is a great tool for learning addition in a fun setting, so try it out with your Menlo Park child today!

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/2013

# Math Game Madness: Play on the Go!

Entertain yourself and your kids with this fun and interactive math game called Math Madness. Redwood City parents with math-loving kids, next time you get the urge to play a game, simply get out a deck of numbered Mathnasium playing cards to help your kids accomplish the goal of this game: to get to 10. You will be amazed at how quickly they gain confidence in math, since this game teaches them the importance of order of operations and how manipulating numbers can help them meet their goals! This game provides a solid foundation for working with numbers that is crucial for your child when they get to algebra and higher math levels.

The general idea of the game is that you take an array of 9 cards (3 by 3), and see how many cards out of the nine total cards you can use to make 10. For example, if you had a 12, 9, 8, and a 3, you could add (12-8) + (9-3) = 10. This game is fun, fast-paced, and encourages students to use order of operations to their advantage, as well as developing a love of math outside of Redwood City schools. Soon, your children will be whizzes at order of operations and will find the number 10 in everything!

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/9/2013

## The Rules

1. Get a deck of cards and remove the jokers. If it’s not a Mathnasium deck, let aces=1, jacks=10, queens=11, and kings=12.
2. Set the 9 cards out in 3 rows of 3.
3. Take turns using as many cards as possible to make 10.
4. Add, subtract, multiply, and divide so that you get to 10.
5. Replenish cards so that you have 9 once more.
6. Have your opponent take their turn.

## Play on the go!

Because the only materials you need to play this fun math game are a deck of cards and at least one person — you could play solo — this game is easy to play in the backseat of a car when you are on a road trip, on a plane, or if you live in Redwood City and are on the train to San Francisco with your kids.  Have fun playing this great math game.

# How to Teach Counting to Kindergarteners to 5th Graders the Menlo Park Way!

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Time to brush off the counting cobwebs and review the basic building blocks of math! Counting both forwards and backwards is an important skill to have, and can help strengthen addition, subtraction, and even multiplication skills later on. It isn’t always just as simple as “1, 2, 3, 4…,” the goal is to help your child be able to count from any number, to any number, by any number.  Counting is such an important tool that will be used for the rest of your child’s life, which is why here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park we encourage counting practice for all ages! To develop your child’s counting skills today, try these easy tips listed below! Best of all, these strategies are useful for any age for anyone who needs a little extra help with the basics of math. Quiz your kid on counting while at the dentist’s office, while waiting at a red light, or–well–anywhere!

## Counting Forwards & Backwards

• Start easy by counting by 1s, starting at 0 (0, 1, 2, 3, 4…100), then backwards from 100 (100, 99, 98…). Then try counting forwards and backwards from a random number, such as 24 (24, 25, 26, 27…).
• Count by 2s, starting at 0 (0, 2, 4, 6…), then starting at 1 (1, 3, 5, 7…), then starting at any random number (25, 27,29, 31…). Then try the same counting backwards from a number of your choice!
• Do the same with 5, 10, and 1/2, by counting forwards from 0, 1, and a random number, then backwards from another number of your choosing!
• If your child still isn’t challenged, keep going by counting forwards and backwards by 1/4s, 3/4s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 11s, 12s, 20s, 25s, 50s, 75s, 100s, and even 150s!

Have fun and happy counting!