Monday, September 18, 2017

Fractions Rules Memory Song

Fractions Rules Memory Song
Fractions can be complicated to learn, because there are lots of rules for adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and converting from improper to mixed numbers and back. Not to mention converting fractions to decimals!

And, as an educator (whether in the home or in a traditional school)  I'm sure you've experienced that moment when the student gives you the blank look or says, "I have NO idea how to do this!" about a concept they had just "mastered" the week before.

Learning how to work with fractions is one thing.

Remembering it is quite another!

So, to help my Daughter remember all this tricky business, I crafted a little song. I'm hoping your student finds it helpful, too!

At the bottom, I'm putting videos that help demonstrate these methods, in case you or your student need a refresher.

If your student only has trouble remembering only one or two rules, you can just teach them that part of the song : )

It is to the tune of "Oh My Darling Clementine," which is a public domain song : )

Sing this with your student - or students - every day for a while, and you'll see their fractions skills take off! : )

Fractions song

To add two fractions together
You can simply multiply
Bottom numbers both together
That’s your new bottom number

Next you need to multiply
The left top number with the one
You find, at the right bottom
Write that on the top left

Write your plus sign right next to it
Then you need to multiply
The left bottom number with the number
At the top and right

Write that answer down right after
The plus sign on the top line
Then you add the two top numbers
to make a new top number

To subtract two fractions then
Becomes so easy, all you do
Is use a minus sign, instead of an
Addition sign

Or  find a common multiple
Of all the bottom numbers, then
Multiply both tops & bottoms by the same
Numbers to get

All new top & bottom numbers
Then you can add or subtract
Even if you have 15
Different fractions you’re working with!

If you need to multiply two
Fractions, first you multiply
The top numbers together
That’s your new top number then

You keep going, multiplying
The two bottom numbers next
That becomes your bottom number
It is just so easy

To divide two fractions is fun
You just flip-flop multiply
Then you’ve got your answer and it
Wasn’t even difficult!

fractions isn’t
really difficult at all
Just divide both top and bottom
By the same divisor

To convert improper fractions
Just divide the top number
By the bottom number and the answer
Is the whole number

Then the remainder that’s left
Is your new top number and
The bottom number is
the same as when you started

To make mixed numbers into
improper fractions, Multiply
bottom number and whole number
Then you add the top number

Bottom number once again
remains just the same
as it was when you started
wasn’t that so easy?

To convert fractions To decimals
Write a dot and then zeros
after top number and then 
Divide bottom into top.

Adding & Subtracting Fractions:

Multiplying Fractions:

Dividing Fractions:

 Simplifying or Reducing Fractions:

Converting Improper Fractions into Mixed Numbers:

 Convert Mixed Numbers into Improper Fractions OR Vise Versa

Converting a Fraction to a Decimal:
 Rock Style Song:

More Serious Lesson:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Quick Vegan Breakfasts - A Week's Worth!

Quick Vegan Breakfasts
Most mornings, for most folks, breakfast isn't a leisurely, sit down affair like in a 1950's family T.V. show. In fact, many days it looks more like a movie of the stock market trading floor on a bad day - stuck in fast forward.

For THOSE mornings, here are some quick breakfast ideas. Some of these you can make the night before. Some are freezer-friendly, so you can make a big batch when it's convenient, and just pull them out as needed. And some are 3-minute microwave recipes. Even better? Most of them can be made from your handy DIY pantry mixes (linked within each recipe) so even making your big batch for the freezer, or your microwave recipe becomes super easy. Best of all? They're ALL pretty tasty! : )


Oats, Easy, Cool & Creamy Summer

Banana Bars for the fridge or freezer - easy to make (3 ingredients) & GF!

Vegan Pumpkin Mini Muffins (keep a batch in the freezer : )

3 Minute Double Chocolate Muffin for One

Easy Vegan Cinnamon Roll Crescents- Keep handy in freezer

Zucchini Bread Waffles for the Freezer

3 Minute Blueberry Muffin for 1

Veggie Burgers from the Freezer for a Savory Breakfast

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce

Looking for a delicious, easy, homemade sauce that tastes great without adding cheese?

Here ya go!

Quick & Easy Marinara Sauce
Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

In a 2 Quart Saucepan, Saute
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 teaspoons Garlic (minced, or puree from a jar)
2 Cans (15 oz each) Chopped Tomatoes with their liquid
Puree with an immersion blender to your desired texture
Then add
1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Capers
1 (4 oz) can Mushrooms, Drained
Salt & Pepper to taste (I use a scant teaspoon Salt and a generous pinch of Pepper)

Simmer for 10-15 minutes to blend flavors.

Serve over Pasta

Large Batch Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce
(This is great for serving a larger group, or for preparing extra for the freezer)
In an 6-8 Quart Saucepan (sometimes called a Dutch Oven), Saute 
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Large Onions, Chopped
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
2-3 Tablespoons Garlic (minced, or puree from a jar)
1 #10 Can (or 7 15 oz Cans) Chopped Tomatoes with their liquid
Puree with an immersion blender to your desired texture
Then add
1 (15 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Oregano
2 teaspoons Basil
1/4 Cup Capers
3 (4 oz) cans Mushrooms, Drained
Salt & Pepper to taste (about 1 Tablespoon Salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Pepper is my preference)

Simmer for 20-30 minutes to blend flavors.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Greek Skillet Chicken

Greek Skillet Chicken
Skillet Chicken is my favorite method of making Chicken. Although I'm sure someone else somewhere has had the same idea (it's not earth shattering), it IS my own method. It has some definite advantages:

1) It cooks faster than large pieces
2) It thaws faster
3) It absorbs marinade better
4) The portion sizes are more adjustable.. Especially if you're serving several people, it means that one person isn't forced to take and waste more than they really want, while the person beside them is wishing for more. It also permits child-sized portions.
5) It's easier to tuck into a wrap the next day or add to a salad or a "bowl"
6) It's easier to use the leftovers as an additional ingredient for a single meat-eater of an otherwise vegetarian dish. I often have portions of this in the Freezer to add to a meal.
7) It's moist and flavorful. 

Greek Skillet Chicken
This is what I do. I usually buy large, skinless, boneless chicken breasts. The ones at our grocery that normally have the best price are about a pound each! Which means that there aren't many meat eaters who really want to eat a whole one! If smaller ones have a better price, I buy them : )

I slice them crosswise into slices about 1 cm thick.

I drop them into a plastic refrigerator container or zippered freezer bag, and then add my marinade. I usually put 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of Chicken per container. After adding the marinade, if I'm going to use it the same day, I put it in the fridge. Otherwise, I put it in the Freezer (after labeling, and dating the package, of course!)

A large Chicken Breast, sliced 1 cm thick
To use, (if frozen) put in fridge the day before you'll use it, so it can thaw.

Then, remove Chicken from marinade, and cook in a nonstick skillet over medium or medium high heat, until done. I add an extra spoonful or two of the marinade to the skillet, so the flavor cooks in better. It concentrates, then evaporates while cooking, then the meat starts to brown.

Greek Chicken Marinade

1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Salt
Dash Pepper
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

Of course, if you prefer you can use this marinade to marinate whole boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts and cook by your normal method. I sometimes do this with my electric indoor grill.

This can be served as a Chicken Dish to Accompany any of the several Vegan Meals below OR it can be served Souvlaki-style, inside a pita with Salad & (optional) Tzatziki, and Fries on the side. 

Tips for Dining with Vegetarians . . . .

This Chicken is great with any of the following:

Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri )
Confetti Spaghetti
Greek Okra & Tomato Stew ( Bamies Yachni )
Greek Stuffed Veggies ( Gemista )
Greek Green Beans ( Fasolakia Yachni )
Mediterranean Chickpeas & Vegetables
Mushroom Kabobs, Grilled ( Manitarakia )
Orzo Pilaf
Greek Inspired Oven Fries
Rosemary Roast Potatoes in the Slow Cooker
Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Italian Lunchbox Salad 
Mediterranean Two Bean Salad
Mix & Match Italian Rice Salad
White Bean Salad

Greek Tahini Sauce

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Refreshing Diced Salad

Refreshing Diced Salad
This is, hands down, my favorite Veggie Salad. I've been eating it pretty much every day lately - I
keep a big container of it in the fridge for convenience.

I like it because it is simple, yet unique. Refreshing and special without the addition of unhealthy ingredients like bacon, cheese, oil or heavy dressings. Because the vegetables are diced, the flavors of all of the vegetables marry in a remarkable way that produces a different flavor than each vegetable has when served alone. And that means that simply a bit of salt brings out the flavor, without requiring the addition of the heavy ingredients that so many veggie salads use.

I try to chop an equal amount of each of the three vegetables, so the proportions below are just a guideline. 

In this salad - the vegetables themselves provide the flavor - and it's great!

This is a perfect side dish for any legume and rice dish, as well as a great side dish to add a splash of color and flavor to a typical meat and potatoes meal. 

Here's the recipe:

Refreshing Diced Salad
Mix together
2 Cups Cucumber, Diced in 1 cm cubes (about 1 Large)
2 Cups Tomatoes, Diced in 1 cm cubes (about 3 Romas)
2 Cups of Celery, Diced in 3 cm cubes (about 3 Stalks)
At this point, the salad can be stored in the refrigerator or served

At serving time, add to each portion
Salt to Taste
Caper Buds to taste (about 1 teaspoon for 1 1/2 cups of salad is my preference)

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Monday, July 10, 2017

July Vegan Meals for a Week

July Vegan Meals
In the heat of the summer, it's nice to have quick, easy meals that avoid turning on the oven. Here are a few of my favorites for serving in July. I'm offering a week's worth of ideas - you decide which day to serve which one : )

Day 1

In the heat of summer, if the weather is good, I make this on the porch in a slow cooker, so the house is not heated by the cooking : )

Greek Stuffed Veggies ( Gemista )

Day 2

Kale & Tomatoes with Tahini Sauce

Day 3

Hummus with Capers and Veggie Dippers

Breadsticks, Stove top for dipping in Hummus

Day 4

Curried Chickpeas over Rice

Day 5 (for that day that there's no time to cook)

Vacation Soup

Day 6

White Bean Salad

Vegan Mock Crab Cakes

Day 7

Mediterranean Chickpeas & Vegetables

This Week's Dessert Idea:

Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Xtra Math Didn't Work for Us . . . and What Did

Math Drill is incredibly important to Math Success!
I'm a firm believer in Math drill. 

My Mom was an Elementary School teacher who specialized in Math. She said that the secret of elementary math success lay in mastering drill - especially of addition - so that there was no hesitation, and the answers were automatic.

I, on the other hand, was taught "New Math." It was an educational catastrophe - and I'm pretty sure that Common Core math is the same thing with a new name. The focus was on math logic - which was good, but drill was considered unimportant. The theory was that if you knew the "why" behind the math, you could always calculate the answer - by counting, doubling, or some other "work around."

As a result, I became one of those students who tested well in math logic, but horribly in computation. Which meant that eventually I could do a formula perfectly, but still get the wrong answer because I made mistakes when doing simple tasks like adding 7+3, or multiplying 8x6!

By the time my Mom realized what had happened and tried to fix it, my math anxiety had become way too severe. 

Of course, when I decided what to study at University, half of the options were closed to me because, like so many American kids of my generation, I was "bad at math." I thought it was a condition, like dyslexia, that was simply the result of bad genes or whatever. I know of no great mathematician who made a habit of counting on his fingers while calculating multi-page equations!

I didn't realize that it was something I could fix!

Then, I started teaching my daughter, and learned that

I wasn't a victim of a "learning disability" but rather a victim of bad teaching.

When I began teaching my daughter, I also mastered those facts that I had never been able to master before.

I was determined that my daughter would have a better math education than I had, and better than what modern traditional schools offer.

She would learn her facts thoroughly, though drill, as well as learning the logic behind math.

She mastered number concepts, counting, and became fairly proficient - but a bit slow - at flash card early on.

So, we started a long relationship with Xtra Math to drill those math facts. We spent years trying. And it was VERY slow going, and proving to be very frustrating for both of us, too.

Every wrong answer, or slow answer brought instant negative feedback from the computer, intensifying her anxiety.

The more anxious she became, the more mistakes she made - and the more frustrated I got with her for not doing a good job! I remembered my Mom getting frustrated with MY math anxiety - and I forgave Mom for it all! I understood how she felt! ; ) And, I asked my daughter's forgiveness for my frustration. But, I still didn't know how to fix it.

Although my daughter was ahead of the curve on math logic, she was lagging in math drill (sound familiar?).

I thought that Xtra Math was ideal because it timed every question, and made sure that a child could not compensate for not knowing 8+3 by being really fast at 2+0. It seemed perfect.

At long last, after much difficulty and years of trying, she mastered Xtra Math addition.

Subtraction should have been easy - after all, subtraction is reverse addition - and she KNEW all the facts. But it wasn't. It, too, was taking months because of the anxiety produced by the program, and the temptation to guess in order to meet the time requirement.

Finally, I began to think about what my Mom, the math educator, had told me about Educational Psychology.
1) Children should ALWAYS give the right answer - never the wrong one. Otherwise the wrong one gets "stuck" in their heads! Repeating the RIGHT answer is the key to successful memorization.

2) Pressure is counter-productive, as it produces anxiety.

But, Xtra Math focused on speed before accuracy. Since the questions were timed for a 3 second response from the first day, the temptation was to guess and get a wrong answer. And answers that weren't speedy enough were "wrong." And, if a child got frustrated and guessed too many times, their scores were set back for several days, making it take even longer to overcome the hurdle (which has a good side, in teaching children not to throw a temper tantrum when frustrated - but still made the frustration even worse).

Finally, I went back to the age-old method of printing out drill pages - those pages of 100 questions that have to be done in 5 minutes. 

I told her to first focus on getting EVERY QUESTION RIGHT - no matter how long it took - and then we'd work on speed.

And I discovered that while on Xtra Math she had only been getting about 50% correct, on paper, she was getting a pretty consistent 100%

Then we worked on speed.

And, we bought a little prize to look forward to 

 - - from the thrift store (there has ALWAYS been a prize on offer for finishing a level - so that wasn't much of a change, but having the prize purchased and in the house was a great motivator!).

After getting the prize (a mechanical dog named Creampuff) it only took her 1 1/2 days to finish it!

And, in about 2 weeks - she beat the subtraction time!
100 questions - ALL correct - in well under 5 minutes!

The same SPEED as required by Xtra Math -but without the negatives.

So, while Xtra Math does work great for some kids (I'm not meaning to insult the program here, just offer my own experience) try some old fashioned paper drill pages if Xtra Math isn't a good fit for your kid.  You can find them at this link.

It just might be the secret to success for your child

So, to find some great FREE worksheets that WORKED FOR US - check out this link Great Math Worksheet Site

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