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?"
We have been using this curriculum for two years. 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 loved it!
The author of
Life of Fred suggested that each of the problems in the book were 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 questions which required much more thinking.
Questions like "If tomorrow is Saturday, what day was yesterday?", were
some of my favorites. Since the book typically asked only one question
per concept at the end of each chapter, this task was not repetitive or
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).
In the Goldfish book he reached a point when he became more challenged. We covered about three chapters per week and began working to memorize addition and multiplication facts.
A weekly math schedule looked like this:
1. Read the books and did the problems, 3 times per week, about 1 chapter per day.
2. To memorize
addition and subtraction facts we played lots of games. I found Black Jack 21
to be one of the best games. My Math Page has additional game and activity ideas.
3. 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.
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. Finally, we tried to incorporate or draw attention to real life math that occurred within our daily lives. Cooking,
quilting, measuring, laundry (money) and playing with math toys are some examples.
Our second year following Life of Fred was spent in the Fractions book. While I still was overjoyed that this curriculum explained the application of math, I do think some addition practice was necessary. Khan Academy was wonderful for supplemental practice. After taking a pretest, the student was directed to specific lessons. Once five questions were correctly answered in a row, the student moved on. It placed my son right where he needed to be and it's free!
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.