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Questions and Answers: Life of Fred Math

Is Life of Fred a complete math curriculum?

Actually it is MORE than a complete math curriculum as Fred humorously includes all kinds of other information and topics as he creatively teaches math concepts to the fullest! Although taught in an unconventional way, Life of Fred totally engages the student through an entertaining and wacky story while teaching solid math concepts and skills.

How much teacher involvement is there?

Life of Fred is written to the student and intended to be self-teaching. The author wants students to learn to study and understand on their own. He even includes the solutions, which are addressed to the student. The solutions are instructional too, so correcting their own work is really helpful!

These are not a traditional math books. This is a child-directed course. The student reads the adventure story, does the math problems that occur as a natural part of the story, and checks their answers (the solutions are right there for the looking.) And learns to love math in the process! You will not get the detailed formula explanations that you get in a traditional math book. I am still amazed that kids can read the story and learn the concepts, but they do, incredibly well!

 How many books do I need to buy?

Students complete two books per year up through pre-algebra. Once they start algebra, the books get thicker and there is only one book per year.

Children can start the series as soon as they know their addition and subtraction facts up to 10.  Regardless of starting grade level, begin with the Apples book and progress forward.

The books are hardbound, non-consumable textbooks that include the Answer Key.  They can be used over and over again.

How does Life of Fred compare cost-wise with other math programs?

These books are very low priced compared to any other math books on the market. The author, Stanley Schmidt, insists on keeping the price low in order to make them accessible to all who wish to learn math.

How is the program structured?

Lessons are taught in chapters, first with a few entertaining pages of story, then it’s “Your Turn to Play”. Children write out their answers, read the solutions, and then move on to the next delightful adventure. 

Does this complement the Charlotte Mason approach?

Yes! Engaging storytelling emphasizes mathematical understanding rather than rote problem solving. It's creative and fun for children.

Who is Fred?

Fred is the main character in the story and he is five years old. He is a professor at Kittens University. Zany.

Can you give me a taste of Life of Fred?

The first book begins with simple addition facts and, in the very first story and short written exercise, students will learn:

  • Fred still sleeps with his Kingie doll.
  • Fred sleeps in a sleeping bag in his office at Kittens.
  • Beginning concepts of time
  • Dawn is variable; it gets light at different times depending on the season.
  • The relationship between numbers and quantities; a set of objects has the same number of objects regardless of position or arrangement.
  • What an equals sign means
  • The answer to an addition problem won’t change depending on the object(s) counted. Whether you are adding hours, pencils, or trees, 5 + 2 will still equal 7.
  • The commutative property of addition. It doesn’t matter whether you add 5 + 2 or 2 + 5, you will still get 7.
  • x and y can stand in place of numbers (which is a pre-algebra concept)
  • .......and more!

 In the next lesson, children learn:

  • Fred is neat (he puts his stuff away)
  • what an ellipse is (and how to make one with a flashlight)
  • Fred’s doll, Kingie, can draw better than Fred
  • the days of the week
  • months, seasons, days, time, addition
  • ellipses and other geometric shapes
  • the composition of the earth
  • fish vs. whales
  • counting by 5’s
  • temperature
  • negative numbers
  • deciduous trees
  • not to be rude
  • zero (and its properties)
  • sets
  • chess moves
  • fractions
  • the Titanic
  • the ? sign
  • circumscribed triangles, inscribed triangles
  • counting by hundreds
  • telling time by increments of 5 minutes
  • a dime = 10¢         
  • ....and more!
    The books progress going deeper into math...each book will leave you wanting to hear more about the life of Fred.  This outline of topics is just to give you a flavor of these intriguing, fascinating math books!  We love them!


    Our Personal Experience with Life of Fred Math:

    My creative daughter used to hate math. She loves art and math was a drudge. I tried everything, even cutting her math facts practice pages into creative shapes and giving her art colored markers to solve the problems with. I tried everything but she hated math.

    Then we discovered Life of Fred.

    I was highly suspicious as I listened to her laugh through her math lessons and totally enjoy doing them. I was stunned to watch her go straight for math when she started her homeschool work each morning. I picked up the book and read an outlandish story about a miniature boy named Fred and all his adventures. I couldn't imagine she was really learning math, so I asked her to tell me what she had learned so far in the 16 lessons she had completed. She quickly jotted down this list for me:

    infinite sets
    natural numbers
    set notation

    (need I go on?)

    I was impressed to say the least! How could a girl who hates math actually be enjoying Algebra and really learning the terminology as well as how to do the operations?

    I contacted Stan Schmidt, the author of The Life of Fred, and a retired college math professor of 28 years whose self-proclaimed mission is to help kids love math. I asked him, "How do I know a student who does Life of Fred will retain it?," to which he replied, "How much of your school algebra did you retain?" Ouch!

    The idea behind Life of Fred is that if students have an enjoyable experience and have fun doing their math, they will remember it and use it and have a good taste in their math about the whole subject. The sub-title on each of his math books is "As Serious As it Needs to Be". And that is just the point: math doesn't need to be horrid and dry. This is math—just as serious as it needs to be—and I can tell you from my daughter's smiles and chuckles, that's not very serious at all!

    If you have a creative child who is languishing on traditional math programs, try Life of Fred

    Math....As Serious As it Needs to Be!


    Where to Start?

    Life of Fred books are not grade assigned. They start with the story of Fred and his daily life and math concepts are introduced along the way.  Dr. Schmidt recommends that all students up to the end of 4th grade start with the Apples book as he introduces higher level math concepts throughout the entire elementary series. Your student will be introduced to terminology that they normally would not encounter until much higher levels. 
    For students from K- 4th grade, it is ideal to start with book 1, which is Apples, and progress right up the series.  The books are in alphabetical order:
    Ice Cream
    Jelly Beans....
    A 4th grader beginning the program would probably complete Apple, Butterflies and Cats (and maybe Dogs) in one school year.
    You may also opt start later in the series for a 4th grader, if you feel your child has covered the concepts.
    Here is a taste of the concepts taught in the beginning books:

    In Apples, the first book in the series, you will find:



    • 5 + ? = 7
    • 3x + 4x = 7x
    • x + 4 = 7


    • Circles
    • Ellipses
    • Squares
    • Rectangles
    • Reading 6:00 on a Clock
    • Reading 3:05 on a Clock
    • Numbers that Add to 7
    • Sets
    • ≠ (not equal)
    • One Million
    • One Thousand
    • Counting by Fives
    • Counting by Hundreds
    • Days of the Week
    • Leap Years
    • Spelling February
    • Dressing for Cold Weather
    • 15 Degrees Below Zero (–15º)
    • Deciduous Trees
    • Deciduous Teeth
    • Archimedes 287 B.C. Wrote The Sand Reckoner and Got Killed Being Rude
    • ante meridiem (a.m.)
    • Donner and Blitzen in German
    • Euclid Wrote The Elements
    • Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
    • Whales Are Not Fish
    • The “There Are Zero . . .” Game
    • the Popularity of Zero
    • Why Boats Are Cheaper to Rent in the Winter
    • Triangles
    • Herbivores and Carnivores
    • The Colors of the Rainbow
    • A King in Checkmate
    • The Story of the Titanic

    In Butterflies, the second book in the series, you will find:


    • Reading 5:10 on a Clock
    • Reading 5:55 on a Clock
    • Half Past Six

    Specific Numbers

    • a Dozen
    • A Baker’s Dozen
    • Trillion, Quadrillion and Quintillion

    Types of Numbers

    • Ordinal Numbers
    • Whole Numbers
    • Cardinal Numbers


    • Collinear
    • Perpendicular
    • One Yard = 3 Feet
    • Numbers that Add to 9
    • Counting by twos
    • Parentheses and Brackets
    • Aleph-null
    • Facts about Butterflies
    • Chrysalis vs. Cocoon
    • Braces
    • Christina Rossetti
    • Sheet Music for “But Not Alone”
    • Domenico Fetti’s Archimedes Thoughtful
    • Exclamation Points
    • Bad Things about Sugar
    • One Good Thing about Sugar
    • Marvin Stone’s Invention of the Paper Straw 1888
    • Orion’s Belt
    • Betelgeuse
    • Why Not Every Three Stars Can Make a Triangle
    • Book Signings
    • Why You Can Not Walk In a Room
    • Deliberate vs. Inadvertent
    • How to Say 'Toenail' in German
    • Yurts
    • a Nebula is Not a Star
    • Light Years
    • the Alphabet Game
    • p.m. (post meridiem)
    • Syncope
    • Sheet Music for “The Crash of the Bell Tower”
    • Quotation Marks inside of Quotation Marks
    • Spine of a Book
    • Naissance
    • Lie vs. Lay
    • Kingie’s Brothers
    • States that Begin with the Letter M
    • Saying Thank You
    • Virgil’s Aeneid
    • History of Pizza
    • How to Set a Table

    In Cats, the 3rd book in the series, you will find:

    • Commutative
    • Cardinality of a Set
    • One Quarter
    • Numerals vs. Numbers
    • Counting by Threes
    • Finding Patterns
    • Right Angles
    • a Quarter to Three
    • 5280 Feet in a Mile
    • Numbers Expressed as Hundreds
    • Tens and Ones
    • Sexagesimal and Decimal Systems
    • Numbers that Add to 13
    • Square Feet
    • Volume
    • One Meter
    • Prime Numbers
    • Less Than (<)
    • Ursa Major (Big Bear)
    • Asterism
    • Vowels
    • Loud Talkers
    • Hiring Freeze
    • Hoodwinked
    • Sheet Music for “Happy”
    • Four Basic Emotions
    • Quarter and Half Notes
    • Obligate Carnivores
    • Adjectives and Verbs
    • Carbohydrates
    • the Mariana Trench
    • Ferdinand Magellan’s Trip
    • What Pacific Means
    • Bacteria
    • Rabies in 300 B.C.
    • Capital Letters Start Sentences
    • Five Vowel Words: Mat, Met, Mit, Mot, Mut
    • Twenty-Two English Words That Don’t Contain a Vowel: By, Cry, . . . , Tryst, and Why
    • Morse Code
    • Four Major Oceans of the World
    • Centuries, Centenarians, and Centurions
    • Homonyms
    • Prepositional Phrases
    • 71 English Prepositions
    • the Three Countries of the World that Don’t Primarily Use the Metric System
    • What Mathematicians Do

    In Dogs, the 4th book in the series, you will find:

    • One Million
    • π (pi)
    • One Billion
    • Numbers that Add to 15
    • Numbers that Add to 17
    • Adding two- and three-digit numbers
    • Carrying the One in Addition
    • Doubling 1 ➔ 2 ➔ 4 ➔ up to 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376 (which is 100 doubles)
    • Functions
    • Finding Patterns
    • Consecutive Even Numbers
    • Guessing Functions
    • Constant Functions
    • Digits in a Number
    • Two Dimes = 20 Cents
    • 7 - z = 4
    • Right Angles
    • Rectangles
    • Bar Graphs
    • Our Place in the Dance of Life
    • the Game of Doubles
    • Fortnight
    • New Words in English
    • Anachronism
    • Middle English and Old English
    • Making Choices in Life
    • Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
    • Morse Code from A–Z
    • the Function Party Game
    • What Can Cause Unclear Thinking
    • Rhyme Schemes
    • Tennyson’s In Memoriam
    • Eyes Adjusting to Bright Light
    • ATM Cards
    • Buying Books
    • One Day Without Reading
    • Sheet Music for “Borrowed Books”
    • Beautiful Handwriting
    • Macronutrients
    • the Eight Planets
    • Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
    • Different Ways to Pick Out a Book to Read
    • Different Jobs You Might Choose
    • Adopting a Dog
    • Idioms
    • Spendthrifts
    • Art in Advertising
    • Female and Male
    • Apartment Leases
    • Isotopes of Hydrogen
    • the Chemical Elements
    • Dog Games
    For a 7th grader, start with the five books that form a complete Pre-Algebra course:  
    Life of Fred Fractions
    Decimals and Percents
    Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics
    Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology
    Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics


    The title concept is not the only thing taught in the books....a huge number of math concepts are covered.
    If your 7th grader has already used another algebra program , then begin with Life of Fred Beginning Algebra.  Life of Fred algebra books covers more algebra than almost any other curriculum and teaches algebra in a different order. Fred will quickly take you through beginning algebra and your student will understand and enjoy it!