Life of Fred - Math Curriculum

Life of Fred and Math-U-See are two excellent math curriculums. Up until this year we have relied on games and appropriate level workbooks for math. This year however, we have added both of the afore mentioned curriculums to our homeschool.

We have made Math-U-See our daughter's math curriculum because she is flying through math and learns very well with this method. It is straight-forward and visual and she can do the majority of work on her own. The curriculum includes DVD's which show a teacher leacturing to a typical math class. The lectures are short (10-15 minutes) and each topic is explained very well.

(This is not my son. We brought our Life of Fred books to a homeschooling event for a friend to evaluate. Her kids liked them so much they couldn't put them down. My kids treat them the same way.)

Although my daughter learns well with the Math-U-See curriculum, we have found Life of Fred much more in-line with my son's (and my husband's) learning style. Life of Fred is a fairly new series of books that follows Fred (the main character) through his daily life and his interactions with math. The books are written in story format with a few problems to be worked at the end of each chapter. The questions at the end of the chapters are never repetitive like more traditional math texts. They may include questions such as how do you spell the third day of the week? Followed by how many in a dozen, count the perpendicular lines in this picture, and what is 3+4. In addition to covering math the story goes off on many tangents covering subjects such as astronomy, healthy eating and the German language. What I love most about these books is that they teach thinking. My son loves them so much that the one he is working in right now has made its way up to his bedroom so he can read it when he is supposed to be sleeping. My daughter has chosen on her own to read through the first three books in the series and has told me she plans to read all the books.

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  1. Which books are you using? How fast does your son work through them?

    1. I started Life of Fred with my 3rd grader a few months into the school year at Apples. We began at the beginning because I wanted him to feel confident, like the curriculum, not miss anything, and not be too challenged at the beginning. It worked. He loves it! Initially we covered about two chapters per day. Now we cover about three chapters per week. He has worked through Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, and is currently in Goldfish. We plan to take a few weeks off for the summer and then pick back up with Honey.

  2. I just started the first book with my daughter. Just you add in any other math practice or just strictly use the books?

    1. Shannon,

      We do three things for math:
      1. Read the books and do the problems, 3-5 times per week, about 1 chapter per day
      2. Timed math facts or a few pages in a more traditional math workbook, only about once per month
      3. We play math games - I don't know if you saw it on my blog, but I actually developed a fun card game for learning multiplication called Speed!

      My son is currently working on memorizing his multiplication facts and increasing his speed. He knows them all, but has to think about each one. We have played the game, but he needs more practice. Once he finishes his current book I plan to play Speed! with him until the end of the school year and through the summer. We will play every day for about 15 minutes, and stick to only one deck of cards until his speed increases.

      For addition and subtraction we played Black Jack 21 and cribbage. He had these down before we started Life of Fred, but if I was doing them together I think I would read and finish a book over the course of a month or two, then play games daily for a few weeks before starting the next book. Or play games 2 days per week and do a chapter in the book 2 days per week. You can read more about them and other games/activities we have done here.

      Now that I think about it, the author of Life of Fred suggests taking extra time to memorize both addition and multiplication facts.


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