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Life of Fred, A Very Different Math Book

The Life of Fred books by Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt, are very different Math books. Two things I have always come back to in our homeschooling are that learning should have real world application and it should be fun. Life of Fred hits the mark on both of these. We always “play” with math, up until our children are in about 3rd grade. They may do some problems in a workbook but the majority is done in real life. At the store we count items, figure tax and figure the percent of sales. We compare prices and sizes to get the best deal. At restaurants we guesstimate the bill and figure the tip. We measure ingredients in the kitchen for recipes. We are always counting and doubling numbers. We measure everything and talk about shapes and colors. Math is everywhere!

Life of Fred is all that and so much more. Little Fred is looking at math all around him and finding solutions to his strange problems. The stories are ridiculously humorous so that you and your child will have no choice but to remember and continue to think about them. These books are not only math, just like real life, Fred discovers so many things around him and the author uses every opportunity to give fun tidbits of information on many subjects, from how to set a table, to Magellan traveling around the globe.

The chapters are short and your children may want to do more than one a day since they are so much fun. After each chapter there are a few questions to do on your own paper. The questions are even done in such a carefree way that your children will enjoy them. We always end with my children drawing a picture of something in the chapter on their paper after the problems. This has come naturally since Fred’s doll Kingie, in the story, is an artist and the stories are so interesting that it spurs a child’s imagination. I think, also, drawing isn’t intimidating since Fred does not draw well at all.

These books are meant to be a complete math curriculum. They are, and then some. They are also good for a wide range of ages. I personally have a ten year old, seven years old, and a five year old that I teach all together with Life of Fred on the couch. I started at the beginning in Apples and even though my 10 year old was far ahead of that in skill, she was not bored and thoroughly enjoys the books, she is also still learning because of all the other information provided in the stories. We progressed fast through the books and are now up to what I would say is her level and so are her younger brothers. I will read them again with my 5 year old when we are done with the elementary books; Apples through Jellybean (in Alphabetical order A-J). For now the stories keep his interest and even though I don’t have him do the written questions at the end, he will often draw a picture of something in the story, so I know he is listening.

You may go another route and choose a more traditional math curriculum, if so, you should consider Life of Fred as a supplement or enjoyable reading because just reading these books would benefit any child. A word of warning though, if you are lacking a sense of humor, do not consider these books, but if you want to jump way outside the box and have some fun learning with your child, gives these books a try. There are a lot of unexpected lessons to be learned in the Life of Fred books.

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