Palo Alto Impressionist Kids: How to Make a van Gogh Perspective Drawing!

Vincent van Gogh is famous for his impressionist paintings such as “Starry Night” or “Cafe Terrace at Night,” but did you know that all of his painting use math in one way or another? A common instance of math in his paintings is the use of perspective, or use of a “vanishing point.” Making your very own perspective drawing with a vanishing point is a fun and easy way to mix math and art together, and get your child interested in the many different applications of math. Here are some tips on how to help your child make his or her very own perspective drawing; all you need is a ruler, paper, pen, and some imagination! Kids all over Palo Alto love this project; it’s easy and a creative way to engage your child in math. Without further ado, 5 steps to making your very own van Gogh-inspired perspective drawing:

How to Make a Van Gogh-Inspired Perspective Drawing

perspective math van gogh kids art project

  1. On your sheet of paper, use a ruler to draw a line straight across the center of the paper, like the one to the right.
  2. Somewhere on the line near the middle, make a small dot. This is your “vanishing point.”
  3. Make two lines crossing through the dot to make an “X” shape.
  4. Use these lines as guidelines to make buildings, trees, or–well–anything you want! Here is an example to the right you could try!
  5. Color your masterpiece and add details!

Congratulations, you’re done! Hang or frame your beautiful van Gogh masterpiece on your kitchen fridge or bedroom wall! Have fun with this cool perspective project and happy “mathing!”

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 6/2013

> Learn more about Math Tutoring at Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park


Hey Palo Alto Parents! Here’s a Fun M.C. Escher-Ispired Art Project for Kids!

M.C. Escher is world-famous for his beautiful tessellations, so here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park we’ve created some easy instructions for how to make your very own tessellation in this great math-related art project! For parents that can’t exactly recall freshman year geometry as if it were yesterday, a tessellation is a a pattern using a single shape, without gaps or overlapping. Tessellations are a fun and creative way to make math interesting outside the classroom!

Math-related art projects are a cool way for kids to get interested in math and art, and help them understand the connection between math learned in the classroom and math used in real life. Below are the instructions, and be sure to check out our previous post for more math-centric art projects for elementary and middle schoolers!

How to Make an M.C. Escher Tessellation

tessellation math math-related art project mathnasium

Tessellation instructions

  1. Start out with a drawing a square or rectangle, like the one shown below. Use a ruler to make sure all sides are even.
  2. Add shapes coming off of or going into your shape. Whichever shapes you choose to add to/cut out of the rectangle, do the opposite to the other side, as shown.
  3. Cut your new shape out, and use it to trace again and again on another sheet of paper, to make a tessellation!
  4. Color, and you’re finished! Congratulations, you just made a tessellation!

Tessellations are a great math-related art project because you can decide how simple, or how intricate, you want your design to be! Have fun with this great and easy art project with your kids!

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 6/2013

> Learn more about Math Tutoring at Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park

5 Fun Math-Related Art Projects for San Carlos Elementary & Middle School Kids!

Math and art have always been linked closely, so why not try exploring this link in a fun way with your San Carlos kids? Math in art is everywhere–just look at M.C. Escher’s cool geometric tessellations, or the use of proportions in Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Virtruvian Man.” By incorporating math into fun art projects, you can increase your child’s love of learning, and their creativity when exploring math! Making math fun is an important key to your child’s success in the subject, so why not up the fun quotient with some new math-related arts and crafts? Below are five tips to make this summer an art and math filled experience:

tessellation math math-related art mathnasium

Tiled Hexagon Tessellation by Urban Hafner via Flickr

5 Fun Math-Related Art Project Ideas for Kids

  • Make a tessellation just like M.C. Escher or the one above! Here’s a link explaining how to easily make an impressive tessellation; all it requires is a sheet of paper, some scissors, and some markers or colored pencils.
  • Create a 3D sculpture of one of the five platonic solids! They’re a blast to create and make great decorations for any room. Directions can be found here.
  • Create a compass mandala! These are fun because they can be as complicated or simple as you choose to make it, and all you need is a compass, pencil, and some coloring materials! Click here for the simple directions.
  • Here’s an edible math treat! Use toothpicks and marshmallows/gumdrops to create cool 3D shapes, like cubes, pyramids, and cones, then branch out to see other shapes you can make! See who can get the biggest/most complex sculpture without collapsing, then enjoy eating the losing sculptures.
  • Make a number pattern graph like the one found here! Test out different graphs to find the different exponential curves you can make.

These art projects are fun and help strengthen the connection between math and the real world. Try taking your kids to an art museum afterwards, and see if they can point out any math they can see in the sculptures, paintings, and photographs! Comment to let us know which of these math-related art projects worked for you.

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 6/2013

> Learn more about Math Tutoring at Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park

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

o sushi house math mathnasium palo alto restaurant 2nd 3rd grader

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:

O Sushi House Tips for “Mathing” with your 2nd/3rd Grader

  • 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

> Learn more about Math Tutoring at Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park

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

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!

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

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 5/2013


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

The Math Game is On, Palo Alto! Here’s a Fun Math Game for Kids: Multiplication War!

You don’t have to spend hours running around outside to spend time with your kids. (Although there are many opportunities to practice math in sports!) For those of us with less free time after work and less, shall we say, fitness expertise, it’s just as exciting to spend an evening in playing cards. One of my favorite games is Multiplication War.

If you’ve ever heard of the card game War, it’s played as follows: the players divide up the deck evenly, and face down their cards. They then throw down one card each at the same time, and the person with the highest value card keeps both of the cards. The player that ends up with all the cards wins!

At Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park, we took classic War and put a spin on it. When the players throw down their cards, instead of the highest card taking the win, it’s given to the person that calls out the product of the two values first. (We figured out pretty quickly to take out the face cards – Jack times 4 didn’t fly.)

Simple Steps for Multiplication War, as a Math Game

Math Games in Palo Alto, California

Game Setup…

  1. Remove face cards from deck
  2. Divide cards evenly between players
  3. Places piles face down

Game Action!

  1. Players count to three and each throw down their top card
  2. First one to call out the product wins both cards
  3. If both people say answer at the same time, each player keeps their own card
  4. Recycle cards to bottom of pile and repeat
  5. Player with all cards at end of game wins!

This game is especially great for 3rd – 5th graders. You’ll be surprised how fast your kids can get at times tables! And how crazy and fun  this game can get. I encourage you try this game a few times at home – you might hear your kids asking to practice multiplication more often!

by Mathin’ Catherin, March 2, 2013

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

Math in Menlo Park- Invitation to the Tea Party Math Game Night

Looking for a way to get your kid motivated about math and have 2 hours to destress?

You’s invited to a fun game night here in Menlo Park at Cafe Zoe, hosted by Mathnasium Menlo Park Palo Alto.  Kids will enjoy a fun night of math bingo, division war, and free refreshments and prizes. Parents can hang out at the cafe, or have two hours of free time.

by Mathin’ Catherin, February 24, 2013

Menlo Park Math Tea PartyAbout Math Games at a fun Cafe in Menlo Park

Math can be challenging, but math games can help your child make math more fun and approachable. For example, one of the games we’ll play is called Division War. The game is played by taking a deck of cards. Both kids put down a card, and whoever says the answer first gets to keep the cards.

Parents get to hang out at Cafe Zoe, use the free wi-fi and watch their kids play. Or if you want you could do work, but the math games will be much more fun.

Time, Date and Place of this Menlo Park Tea Party

If you’re interested this free events, call Mathnasium at (650)-321-6284, or email Also, if possible, come in your tea party attire.

by Mathin’ Catherine

Menlo Park Pizza, Fractions, and Math Tutoring Ideas for Parents

Nearly every child loves pizza! Menlo Park has some great pizza restaurants, and on those busy Thursday or Friday nights when you as the parent are just too tired… it’s a great time to try some Menlo Park pizza, and it’s a quick opportunity for some math tutoring for your child. Never miss a quick and fun opportunity!

by Mathin’ Catherine (Cathy Umana)

January 29, 2013

Some Math Tutoring Ideas Around Pizza in Menlo Park

Math Tutoring and Pizza in Menlo Park, CA

OK, so let’s think about pizza. Yum, yum, yum. OK, not about it in that way. Let’s think about pizza in a math way. Pizza is round, and the slices are usually in triangles. Math tutoring opportunity: fractions! Order up your family’s favorite pizza pie, and then query your 3rd or 4th grader to think about the pizza as a fraction. If the pizza is in eight slices, then if Dad eats 2 slices he has eaten how much?

2/8th of the pizza.

Then ask your child to look at all the two slices, and ask what if Dad eats two more slices? How much will have have eaten? Too much! But in a math way he will have eating

2/8 plus 2/8 = 4/8

Then have your child look at the pizza and show him or her that 2/8 +2/8 = 1/2 of the pizza.

If you really want to get fancy –

Napkins and Math Facts for Menlo Park Pizza

Get out your napkin and show your child that you can add 2/8 + 2/8 but first convert the 2/8 to 1/4 and you get 1/4+1/4 = 2/4 = 1/2.

Math facts and pizza! A yummy combination. And dads out there, don’t eat 1/2 the pizza – next lesson we’ll calculate the calories, sodium and cholesterol in the pizza!

Here are some of our favorite pizza places in Menlo Park, nearby to our Mathnasium, math tutoring in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, headquarters at 605 Cambridge Ave, Ste A, Menlo Park, CA 94025 –

Pizza in Menlo Park – Some Choices

  • Pizza Hut, 3415 Middlefield Rd, Menlo Park, CA
  • Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, 880 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park, CA
  • High 5 Start Pizza, 877 Hamilton Ave, Menlo Park, CA