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.
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
- negative numbers
- deciduous trees
- not to be rude
- zero (and its properties)
- chess moves
- the Titanic
- the ? sign
- circumscribed triangles, inscribed triangles
- counting by hundreds
- telling time by increments of 5 minutes
- a dime = 10¢
- ....and more!
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:
(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!