When we first started homeschooling three years ago, I was not sure about anything. I was a high school science teacher teaching first and second grade to my own kids, with no experience with elementary teaching, just a deisre to offer my kids…more. I decided I could do it all on my own, come up with our curriculum in all the subjects with www.amblesideonline.com as a guide and a few free resources I found online. While I do not regret anything we did this year, I did learn that Charlotte Mason’s style of education, while sounding great, did not fit with my teaching style. I also learned that while the free math resources I found at Center for Innovation in Teaching Mathematics were thorough and challenging, it was not working for my middle child. By middle of our second year, I decided this math resource was not a good fit for her and looked for alternative math options.
Life of Fred kept coming up. I saw Life of Fred everywhere. So in the middle of last year, I ordered a Life of Fred Book, the first book, Apples, to see what all the fuss was about. We read Life of Fred at bedtime. My girls loved it. We finished Apples. Then we read Butterflies. My girls still loved Fred and his doll Kingie, and their adventures. And then Life of Fred Cats. And then Life of Fred Dogs. And then Life of Fred Edgewood, and I finally decided that I would work Life of Fred into our regular math curriculum instead of just bedtime reading. Now, I do not know what our Friday mornings would be without him.
This year, we switched to Singapore Primary Mathematics as our base math curriculum, with Life of Fred on Fridays. My third grader worked through Life of Fred Goldfish during the fall, and is now on Life of Fred Honey. My fourth grader worked through Life of Fred Ice Cream, and is now in Life of Fred Jellybeans. They glide through Singapore Math Monday through Thursday, but come Friday, they are all about Fred. I find the great thing about Life of Fred is that it makes a great supplement to whichever math curriculum you may already be using. Some people swear by using it as a stand alone curriculum, however I find that it works better for us as a fun addition. Between Singapore Primary and Life of Fred, my third grader has a restored confidence in mathematics, and no more tears at math time.
Fred has helped my third grader with learning two and three digit multiplication and long division, long before it will show up in her Singapore books. Fred helped concrete her time telling, and encouraged her in learning her basic multiplication tables, something that frustrated her before.
I also consider our time spent with Fred to be a GT extension for my kiddos. Fred introduced sets, the union of sets, the intersection of sets, domain and codomain, and ordered pairs to my fourth grader with real life applications. These topics, not addressed in her regular math curriculum, flex her math/logical thinking skills and stretch her understanding of mathmematical applications.
My kinder kid has worked through Life of Fred Apples, and is now in Life of Fred butterflies. Fred has taught her to tell time, add and subtract, tricks about shapes such as making triangles versus rectangles and squares, circles vs. elipses, ordinal vs. cardinal numbers, etc. She loves Fred. I think we need to get a stuffed Fred for our classroom just so she can hug him.
What does it cost to check out Fred? The Life of Fred books are hard cover books that hold their value well. Books are about $16 each new from the publisher at Z-Twist Books. You might possibly find one for a little less used on ebay, but they hold their value. Meaning, if you buy Life of Fred and your kid does not love Fred’s adventures in math, then you can recoup your losses by selling it used for very close to what you paid for it.