August and Back to School Time

August us upon us!  As a working parent, I am in shock that we are already getting hit by Back to School Ads and letters from the school on getting ready for the new school year.  Yes, planning is key.  But there is a whole lot of summer to be enjoyed!  Depending, of course, on where you live.  Our school year starts after Labor Day.  Some school districts start in the middle of August.  Either way, seize the day! Get out of the summer routine and add come new activities to you summer bucket list.  Make lifelong memories with your kids.

Summer Bucket List

  1. Go bowling! Ok, bowling is not the go-to kids activity anymore. But kids love it!   Some bowling alleys offer free summer bowling!  Check out for more info.
  2. Go to a local natural watering hole.  Be that a lake, a bay, a river, or maybe the ocean – kick back and relax, while the kids splash around.  Another alternative is a splash park or the city pool.
  3. Go on a bike ride.  Dust off the bikes, pick a local bike trail, and get lost in the excitement of biking with your children.  Of course, make sure to plan you time for the way back.  Some kids can outride adults, but usually it’s the other way around.
  4. Go kayaking!  – Have you tried kayaking or paddle boating?  If not, splurge, and rent a kayak or paddle boat for an hour. Enjoy the new experience of riding on the water.  Kids love to paddle.  Another alternative is renting a paddle boat.
  5. Go to a museum or a zoo.  Don’t underestimate the power of going to the zoo.  Even if you have been there a million times.  Kids love going to the same places, especially if there is some roaring and screeching involved!
  6. Send the kids to grandma!  – If you are lucky enough to have this option.  Send the kids off to grandma, and enjoy the quiet time at home.  Kids learn a lot from spending time with relatives.  They also can back in the love and the “spoildom”.

Enjoy summer! What are some of the items left on you summer bucket list?

Mathematical Lateral Logic Test

The following questions will test your ability to think laterally and mathematically. If you get more than 50% of these right you’re certainly strong on your numerical and lateral thinking skills.

Questions start easy and get progressively harder.


    1. When asked how old she was, Beth replied “In two years I will be twice as old as I was five years ago”. How old is she?
    2. Which weighs more? A pound of iron or a pound of copper?
    3. If you have two coins totaling 11p, and one of the coins is not a penny, what are the two coins?
    4. Divide 40 by half and add ten. What is the answer?
    5. To the nearest cubic centimetre, how much soil is there in a 3m x 2m x 2m hole?
    6. A farmer has 15 cows, all but 8 die. How many does he have left?
    7. The ages of a mother and her graduate son add up to 66. The mother’s age is the son’s age reversed. How old are they?
    8. If a man and a half can eat a hot dog and a half in a minute and a half, how long would it take six men to eat six hot dogs?
    9. Nim went into a supermarket to buy some fruit.
      There were three packs on special offer:
      1) Ten grapes and five strawberries: 70p (save 10p)
      2) Ten strawberries and ten apricots: £2 (save 40p)
      3) Thirty grapes: 100p (save 20p)
      What would be the full price of one grape, one strawberry and one apricot at normal price (no special offers)?
    10. The amount of water flowing into a tank doubles every minute. The tank is full in an hour. When is the tank half full?Stonehenge
    11. There is a pole in a lake. Half of the pole is embedded in the mud at the bottom of the pond, another one third is covered by water, and 7 feet is out of the water. What is the total length of the pole?
    12. If the hour hand of a clock moves 1/60th of a degree every minute, how many degrees will it move in an hour?
    13. I spend a third of my money on a guitar, half the rest on a microphone and a quarter of what I then have left on a kazoo. What proportion of my original money do I have left?
    14. How can you take 1 from 19 and leave 20?
    15. Here is a list of months and a code for each
      • January: 7110
      • February: 826
      • March: 5313
      • April: 541
      • May: 3513
      • June: 4610
      • July: 4710

What is the code for the month of August?

  1. There are 60 sweets in a jar. The first person took one sweet, and each consecutive person took more sweets than the person before, until the jar was empty.
    What is the largest number of people that could have eaten sweets from the jar?
  2. At the University of Kent 36 students attended the LAW lecture, 39 attended an ART lecture and 37 attended the DRAMA lecture. How many attended the FILM lecture?
  3. If you have a pizza with crust thickness ‘a’ and radius ‘z’, what’s the volume of the pizza?
  4. A man went into a store to buy an item. He asked the assistant:
    “How much does it cost for one?”
    The assistant replied 2 pounds, Sir”
    “And how much for 10?”
    The assistant replied “£4”
    “How much for 100?”
    He got the reply “£6”
    What was the man buying?referee
  5. There are 23 football teams playing in a knockout competition. What is the least number of matches they need to play to decide the winner?
  6. How many degrees are there between clock hands at 3.15?
  7. You have 8 bags of sugar, 7 weight the same, one weighs less. You also have a balance scale. Find the one that weighs less in less than 3 steps.
  8. There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?
  9. 1/2 of 2/3 of 3/4 of 4/5 of 5/6 of 6/7 of 7/8 of 8/9 of 9/10 of 1,000 = ?
  10. How many times do the hands of a clock overlap in 24 hours?









  1. 12
  2. They both weigh exactly a pound!
  3. 10p and 1p – the other coin can be a penny!
  4. 90. Dividing by half is the same as multiplying by 2.
  5. None – it’s a hole!
  6. Eight
  7. 42 and 24 years old. (One reader has pointed out that it could also be 51 and 15, although another did point out that 15 years old would be a little young to be a graduate!)
  8. A minute and a half
  9. Thirty grapes at normal price cost £1.20, thus grapes cost 4p each. Ten grapes and 5 strawberries cost 80p at normal price, the grapes must cost 40p therefore the strawberries cost 8p each. Ten strawberries and ten apricots cost £2.40 at normal price, the strawberries cost 80p, therefore the apricots cost 16p each. So one apricot + one strawberruy and one grape cost 28p in total.
  10. At 59 minutes
  11. Half of the pole is in the mud
    One third is covered by water
    Therefore fraction of pole in the mud and water = 1/2 + 1/3 = 3/6 + 2/6 = 5/6
    Therefore fraction of pole out of the water = 1 – 5/6 = 1/6
    So one sixth of the pole is 7 feet.
    So total length of pole = 42 feet. 
  12. One degree
  13. After spending one third of my money on the guitar I have two thirds left. I spend half of this on a microphone, so this is again one third. I then have one third of my original money remaining. I spend one quarter of this on the kazoo. One quarter of one third is one twelfth. I thus have three quarters of one third of my money remaining. Three quarters of one third is one quarter of my money remaining. (1/3 = 4/12.   4/12 – 1/12 = 3/12.  3/12 = 1/4)
  14. If the numbers are in Roman numerals, Take I from XIX (19 in Roman numerals), you are left with XX – 20 in Roman numerals.
  15. 681. The first digit is the number of letters, the second, the position of the month in the calendar, and the final digit is the position of the first letter of the word in the alphabet.
  16. The first person takes 1 sweet, the second two, the third three etc. 1+ 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 = 45, so the first nine people take 45 sweets between them. The 10th person takes 15 sweets. He or she can’t possibly take fewer than 9, nor leave fewer than 11, else the jar will not be empty but there won’t be enough for the next person to follow the rule stated in the question (that each person take more than the one before. So the answer is 10 people. Thanks to Sam Parker for a detailed explanation of this answer
  17. 40 students. Letter A = 1, B= 2, C = 3 and so forth, so FILM = 6 + 9 + 12 + 13 = 40
  18. pi*z*z*a (!)
  19. House numbers
  20. In a knockout competition, every team except the winner is defeated once and once only, so the number of matches is one less than the number of teams in this case 23-1 = 22.
  21. The answer is not zero degrees as you might at first think. The minute hand will be at 15 minutes (90 degrees clockwise from vertical) but the hour hand will have progressed to one quarter of the distance between 3 pm and 4 pm.
    Each hour represents 30 degrees (360 / 12), so one quarter of an hour equals 7.5 degrees, so the minute hand will be at 97.5 degrees: a 7.5 degree difference between the hands.
  22. Put 2 bags to the side. Weight 3 of the remaining bags against the other 3 remaining. If they weigh the same then weigh the 2 bags that you put aside to find out which of them is heavier. If, however, one of the sets of 3 bags was heavier, put one of the bags from the heavier set aside. Weigh the remaining two bags from the set to find out which one is heavier. If they are equal then you know that it is the 1 bag that you put aside.
  23. Open the box that is labeled “Apples and Oranges”.
    You know that since none of the labels are correct, the box must either contain only apples, or only oranges.
    Suppose that you remove an apple from that box. Therefore, that box must be the “Apples Only” box.
    One of the two remaining boxes must be the “Oranges Only” box. However, one is labeled “Apples Only”, and the other is labeled “Oranges Only”. Therefore, the one labeled “Apples Only” is the box that contains only oranges, and the box labeled “Oranges Only” is the box that contains both kinds of fruit.
  24. 100
  25. 22: the minute hand will go round the dial 24 times, but the hour hand will also complete two circuits. 24 minus 2 equals 22.

*SOURCE: University of Kent

Stop the Summer Slide

Summer Slide
Summer Slide

Summer is here!

Parents and kids are excited.  Parents are excited to no longer have to pack lunches and kids are excited… well, to relax and stop learning.   But this is where we as parents need to step in and keep the learning process going.

Stop the summer slide!  The summer slide is real!   The brain is like a muscle.  You have to keep practicing to get smarter.  If your child  does not read and do math problems in the summer time, he or she loses a 2-3 months of progress in school once September rolls around.

Keep your kids busy! Sign up for educational camps, create learning goals for the summer.  I love browsing summer workbooks at Barnes and Nobles – let the kids choose their workbooks and get ready to do a few pages a day.   Encourage them to do their work before running off to the play ground or to the pool.  It might not seem a lot – but practice makes perfect and keeps your child learning in the summer time!

And of course keep it fun – create rewards based on favorite laces to visit:  the zoo, museum, mini-golf or extra time at the pool.  Kids love positive reinforcement.  Keep them learning!

Puzzle: How old am I?

Here’s a classic puzzle you should try with your child:

My uncle was 31 when I was 8.  Now he is twice as old as I am.  How old am I?

More Puzzles: Smarty Buddy App

Here’s a Solution:

First find the difference in ages.  It is 31 – 8  = 23.

The difference in ages does not change with time, of course.  My uncle will always be 23 years older.  So if my uncle is twice as old, I must be 23.

Elegant solution for a problem that might be hard to solve at first.

Helicopter Parents are Raising Unemployable Children


Photo: Getty Images

I came across this interesting article in Huffington Post about the perils of hovering over your children.   In reality, it seems that an average middle class family falls into the “helicopter parenting”.   Do our kids do anything on their own any more? Go to the store and pay for a loaf of bread?   Go for a walk alone and make mistakes with friends?   Save money for a favorite toy,  cherish that toy, and then get sad about breaking it (and not get a replacement)?



These are just examples of things that most kids don’t get to do.  Why?  Because an average U.S. middle class child has most of the things bought, brought, and spoon fed to them by their parents.

Kids bring their problems to their parents to get resolved, fixed, glued, etc.   We as parents are supposed to be raising adults…





Visual Puzzle


Today’s visual puzzle is a Tetris like game. Imagining and manipulating figures of different colors and shapes stimulates parts of the brain that are rarely used in everyday.  Do you know the answer to this puzzle?


Smarty Buddy App
Smarty Buddy App

Road Trip with Kids: Visiting Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park

Nothing says “summer in the USA” more than a road trip. So on our recent Smarty Buddy app and book promotion tour in Southern California we took a detour to the Sequoia National Park.

We took a four and a half hour drive from Davis, CA along a scenic road – with mesmerizing vineyards.  Actually the drive was like driving through the Napa Valley – seeing all the vineyard fields , orange tree groves, and nut trees was a great distraction for the passengers…  not so much for the driver, of course.

Sequoia National Park has caves, waterfalls, forests and lakes, and is home to bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and deer. It is easy to see why it attracts over a million visitors each year.

After passing through the main entrance, we zig-zagged our way along the winding mountain roads of the park.  Every corner brought a new sight, and it felt like we stopped every mile to get out, take a look and get some photos. There are a number of specific attractions within the park, however much of its magic comes from just being out in this region’s immense natural beauty. There was wildlife, views and groves of enormous sequoia trees all competing for our attention and forcing us to pull over regularly.

Smarty Buddy Multiplication App
Smarty Buddy Multiplication App

Watch out for construction traffic delays.  Factor in the fact that the drive from the southern entrance of the park to the northern entrance is about 2 hours.  We certainly forgot about this math, and actually spent 11 hours driving that day (to, from, and passing the park).

Due to the limited time in the park, we decided to check out the main attraction.  The giant sequoia grove.  The hike to the largest tree in the world (by volume) was an easy loop.  The short hike up to the General Sherman – a huge sequoia tree located in the Giant Forest of the national park.   Even in a place full of enormous trees, this one stood out and towered over everything else.

We noticed one thing, that as you spend time hiking along the sequoia trail, you get used the the sheer size of the trees, and start feeling that they are not that tall at all.  But once you take a picture, and see yourself compared to the towering sequoias, you realize how little you are.

Quick visual puzzle

 What is our weight?

A great mathematical problem solving activity for kids and parents to work out the weight of all three animals in the fourth image.  Can you answer this question correctly?

Visual Puzzle
Visual Puzzle

CTY Summer Programs for the Gifted

CTY’s gifted and talented summer programs offer bright students the opportunity to engage in challenging academic work in the company of peers who share their exceptional abilities and love of learning. While the focus is on rigorous academics and learning, the social experience that results from bringing these students together is an integral part of the program.

Summer 2018

Session 1:

  • June 24 – July 13 (all residential sites, except Santa Cruz and Seattle)
  • July 1 – July 20 (all domestic day sites, and the Santa Cruz and Seattle residential sites)
  • July 8 – July 27 (Hong Kong sites)

Session 2:

  • July 15 – August 3 (all residential sites except Santa Cruz and Seattle)
  • July 22 – August 10 (all domestic day sites, and the Santa Cruz and Seattle residential sites)

Summer 2018 Hong Kong sites

One session only:

  • July 8 – July 27

CTY’s 25 residential and day sites in the U.S. and Hong Kong serve thousands of students each year from all 50 states and dozens of countries around the world. Qualifying students come from all walks of life and a variety of educational backgrounds to spend three weeks immersing themselves in their academic passions, meeting others like themselves, and growing intellectually and personally. Class size is 12-18 students, and each class has a highly skilled instructor and a teaching assistant. Outside of class, students participate in a full and fun social program at all locations, from sports and games to talent shows and band practice.

Check out the JHU CTY Website for admission information and SCAT Test dates.

(* Source  – JHU CTY Website )

Who is Gifted and Talented?

According to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)  , gifted children  “demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence in one or more domains.” In public education, educators aim to individualize education for all students so that no one falls significantly behind or, in the case of gifted students, becomes bored.   Many public schools offer gifted and talented programs for students with exceptionally high aptitude in specific subject areas.
Identifying Gifted and Talented Students The National Society for the Gifted and Talented offers recommendations for how to recognize a gifted or talented individual. It is not just a matter of having a specific talent or being a straight-A student.
Students must demonstrate that they have potential to achieve at significantly higher levels than their peers. A student may not even realize that he or she has this specific potential. Gifted and talented students may exhibit some of the following traits:
  • Students may be perfectionists;
  • Students may be exceptionally sensitive and have high expectations of themselves and others;
  • Students may already know much of the curriculum before it is presented;
  • Students may have excellent problem solving abilities;
  • Students think abstractly and may struggle with more concrete concepts.
  • Students may exhibit talent and intelligence in one or several areas including creativity, specific subject areas, leadership, psychomotor skills and the arts.

There is no standard identification method, so it is up to the school to decide how students are selected and identified for gifted programs. It is best to discuss specific criteria with your fellow educators and administrators.

Gifted and Talented Education

Gifted and talented education can occur in a number of forms. The NAGC describes some of the more common forms of gifted education:

  • Acceleration for individual students;
  • Grouping gifted students together;
  • “Curriculum compacting” to eliminate material that students already know;
  • Advanced placement of gifted students;
  • Implementing “pull-out programs” and special classes.

It is important that gifted and talented students are appropriately challenged in the classroom.  Without differentiation and gifted programs, students can become bored and disillusioned.  When education becomes a negative experience, their abilities are stifled and they are less likely to be successful in the future.  More behavioral challenges can also occur without the right environment. In order to tailor instruction appropriately, Intel recommends having students assume leadership roles and assist other students, extending the curriculum with enrichment activities and offering advanced versions of the curriculum.