Life of Fred is a new math curriculum quickly gaining popularity. It is not only a great math curriculum, it is a lot of fun to read aloud. The main character has so many adventures that can lead into wonderful family discussions. Since it is so different from a more traditional math curriculum several questions keep popping up on homeschool message boards.
"Is the Life of Fred curriculum enough?"
"Do you suppliment with other math?"
"How fast do you work through the books?"
"Where do you start?"
Since we have been using this curriculum I will try to answer these questions.
I started Life of Fred with my 3rd
grader a few months into the school year with Apples, the first book in the series. 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. Although much of the initial material was review such as addition and subtraction, he was introduced to new concepts such as sets, perpendicular lines, the word dozen, whole numbers, and substituting an x for a number in an equation (x+5=7).
Now he is at a point where he is more challenged. 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.
In addition to the books, the author of Life of Fred actually stresses the importance of memorizing addition and multiplication facts. Because I agree that this is important we do four 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
We play math games to memorize addition and multiplication facts.
4. We try to incorporate or draw attention to real life math that occurs within our daily lives.
1. The author of Life of Fred suggests that each of the problems in the book are worked with pencil and paper before viewing the answers. I wanted my son to understand this without question, so we started this way right from the beginning. Along with writing out addition problems he could do easily, he wrote the answers to qustions which required much more thinking. Questions like "If tomorrow is Saturday, what day was yesterday?", are some of my favorites. Since the book typically asks only one question per concept at the end of each chapter this task was not repetitive or tedious.
2. We do timed math facts because I want to check my son's speed. Since more traditional workbooks have page upon page of repetitive addition and multiplication problems, they are alright as occasional (once per month for us) practice for him to help him memorize his facts.
3. To memorize addition and subtraction facts we played lots of games. We did this before beginning the Life of Fred Series. I found Black Jack 21
to be one of the best games. Please visit our Math Page to see more of our activities.
To memorize multiplication facts we played Speed! I actually created this game and it is now available so other families can have fun while learning multiplication.
The game teaches skip counting by the numbers 2-9. Each deck of cards is for a different number. We played with only one deck of cards until he had the numbers memorized and could quickly recall them before moving onto the next deck.
4. We try to do a variety of activities to display math application such as cooking, quilting, measuring, laundry (money) and playing with math toys. Our Math Page has more information on our math activities.
So how is my son doing with this? Well, he took the California Standardized Test for third grade through Seton Testing and scored in the 90% in both math sections. So in my opinion, Life of Fred coupled with math fact memorization and a few real life math activities is enough.
Lastly, I would like to point out that the Life of Fred curriculum works great for my son, but I don't use it with my daughter. Although she loves the books and has read them all she is a different child who learns well with lots of repetition. She is also thriving in math (algebra in the 5th grade). This is the first year she used a math curriculum, as before we did activities, workbooks and concentrated on the math facts using the games mentioned above. For her we choose Math-U-See.
* I did not receive any compensation
for the Life of Fred recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many
products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend
on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them.
** Highhill Educational Supplies is my company and we make the multiplication game Speed! I hope you purchase it and enjoy playing it with your friends and family.