Life of Fred: Apples
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Category Description for Life of Fred Elementary Series
Great news for Life of Fred aficionados; Life of Fred has gone elementary! In author Professor Schmidt's own words, "Now you will be able to start the Life of Fred series with your child sitting on your lapand finish the series sitting on his/her lap!" It's as simple as ABCjust follow the books in alphabetical order by title. Children can start the series as soon as they know their addition and subtraction facts up to 10. While the entire series can be completed in just 12-18 months, Apples through Dogs was designed for grades 1-4, Edgewood through Jelly Beans for grades 2-4. Regardless of starting grade level, you will want to begin in Apples. So far, there are ten books to the series. Will there be Kittens through Zebras? Only time will tell.
I was sold even before I opened Apples by the picture of Archimedes (daughter Melissa's inner guide for matters of logic) on the cover. I could already tell that Prof. Schmidt was going to carry his tendency to instruct and inform on interesting tidbits (and people) into the series. Another pleasant discovery: no calculators allowed here. Until a child has cut his teeth on the building blocks of the addition and multiplication tables, just leave 'em in the box. Structured similarly to the upper levels, lessons are taught in a few pages of text, then it's "Your Turn to Play". Children write out their answers (emphasis by the author), read the solutions, and then move on to the next delightful adventure. The first book, Apples, contains 18 short chapters (lessons). Unlike the upper level books, there are no cities.
So, since Calculus actually begins as Fred does (at three days old), where in the life of Fred does this series fit in? As we begin the series, Fred is five, meaning he has been a professor at Kittens for as long. The closeness in age between Fred and the target audience should be a plus. In the course of ten books, we experience about a week in the Life of Fred. The series begins with simple addition facts and, in the very first story and short written exercise, students will learn:
1. Fred still sleeps with his Kingie doll (introduced in Calculus)
2. Fred sleeps in a sleeping bag in his office at Kittens
3. Beginning concepts of time
4. Dawn is variable; it gets light at different times depending on the season
5. 5 + 2 = 7
6. The relationship between numbers and quantities; a set of objects has the same number of objects regardless of position or arrangement
7. What an equals sign means
8. The answer to an addition problem won't change depending on the object(s) counted. Whether you are adding hours, pencils, or trees, 5 + 2 will still equal 7.
9. The commutative property of addition. It doesn't matter whether you add 5 + 2 or 2 + 5, you will still get 7.
10. x and y can stand in place of numbers (pre-algebra!)
Not bad for a start! In the next lesson, children learn: that Fred is neat (he puts his stuff away); what an ellipse is (and how to make one with a flashlight); more about the passage of time and addition; and that Fred's doll, Kingie, can draw better than Fred (he in fact becomes an accomplished oil painting artist). The YTTP in this section teaches more addition facts (in the context of adding Fred and Kingie's drawings), then the chapter ends by presenting the days of the week, both by name and addition fact (5 weekdays + 2 weekend days = 7 days of the week). As the book progresses, students learn more about months, seasons, days, time, addition, ellipses and other geometric shapes, the composition of the earth, Kansas, fish vs. whales, counting by 5's, temperature, negative numbers, deciduous trees, how to spell Wednesday and February, Archimedes (yay!), not to be rude, zero (and its properties), sets, that birds don't eat candy, chess moves, fractions, the Titanic, ducks can't add, the ≠ sign, circumscribed triangles, inscribed triangles, counting by hundreds (why not?), telling time by increments of 5 minutes, a dime = 10, and even get to see a real picture of Prof. Schmidt taking a nap! You get the picture. The books progress with a spiral approach, each one going deeper into math and other engaging facts and knowledge. Throughout them, Fred also exhibits normal childlike behaviors (playing at the table, mistaking a statue for a real lion, needing to sit on phone books to use his desk, along with positive character qualities (responsibility, love of God, cleanliness, desire to stay fit, a love for reading, a distaste for television, making wise choices, valuing truth and honesty, saying prayers at night, being thankful and content even in times of adversity, etc.) And each book will leave your students wanting to hear more about the life of Fred. As with the upper levels of this unusual curriculum, math principles and concepts are taught along with direct application. They are naturally integrated into the life of Fred. Can you see how the Professor cannily whets the student's appetite for future math discoveries? He gives them a small taste and, by doing so, makes the unknown familiar and waiting to be explored
I would be surprised if this doesn't become the math curriculum of choice for teachers using the Charlotte Mason approach. It comes closer to embodying her principles than any other math course I've seen. Other parents will enjoy its fresh approach to teaching with storytelling rather than starting a child off with pages of circling the groups of 7 or pages of addition problems to work. It emphasizes concept and understanding over rote problem solving. Even if you feel more secure using a more traditional math curriculum, I would strongly encourage you to also purchase the Life of Fred elementary series and read (and work it) with your child. It would be a painless complement that would not only reinforce and practice skills learned in your "regular" math course, but also prepare your child for higher level math concepts.
Customer Reviews5.0 / 5.010 ReviewsHilarious!! And we're learning math concepts and more.My 7 year old son and I started using Life of Fred Apples this year to supplement Math U See. We did Saxon math last year, but I needed a less parent intense math program with schooling 4 students this year. I didn't have the time to read through all the different Saxon instructions for 3 different levels even though I loved the in depth Saxon program. So my son and I are enjoying Life of Fred Elementary series and are enjoying our LIVING MATH textbook. I have read through them and done the problems myself to see what my son is reading. We need to order the next batch as he's almost completed A-D and it's only November. That's a good sign. At this point, I don't see Life of Fred Elementary series as a stand alone program, but we love it as a supplement. We'll see how much more in depth it gets as we progress past Dogs.November 7, 2015Purchased
over 2 years agoI started my son on this series when he was 8 I was very hesitant to begin with book one because I knew it was just be too easy for him While I was correct in that the concepts taught were below what he was learning he loved the book so much we continued on through the entire elementary level He is excited to do math and begs to read additional chapters each day Currently we are using this as a supplement This series will work well for the child who loves to read It is easy to follow for the teacher and is a terrific value! We love Life of Fred!June 25, 2013We are really enjoying the Life of Fred (apples)!!! I am impressed w how it introduces simple algebra; and my 1st grader (and pre K who also listens) enjoys the silly stories! :) I would not use it as a stand alone Math curriculum but think it's a GREAT enhancement!November 1, 2012First of all the grade range listed for this book is inaccurate I read it with my 6- and 4-year-olds and they enjoyed it very much The older one got just about all the math there is to get out of it It's recommended here for a Grade 3-6 range but kids that age would be bored to tears with itAnyway on to the review! These books are the hottest topic of discussion on homeschool message boards! I like Life of Fred for high school so when I found out there was an elementary version I had to have it I was expecting weirdness and a bizarre storyline; that's the hallmark of Life of Fred math This book certainly delivers In a few places I wondered if it was too strange for such little kids but they seemed to enjoy the silly jokes and the light tone of the bookAs with the "bigger kid" books there are short "Your turn to play" sections at the end of each chapter to review the math (and other) material covered Because we generally read the book while snuggled up in bed I used this as an opportunity to practice oral math skills with my 6-year-old daughter except in a couple of cases where she neeed to draw a quick diagramAfter I bought Apples I was warned in an online forum that Book D Dogs contains references to euthanasia While no dogs die in the book it is seriously implied that quite a few are put to sleep at the very end The author Stanley Schmidt insists that these references are no more distrubing than those found in Bambi and other classic literature Still it's a parent's decision and some parents have been offended or upset Different children may respond to this differentlyAlso it's been pointed out that as the author is a religious Christian there are occasional Biblical and moral references in the books I'm okay with these but parents should be aware of this since it's a pretty rare thing in a math bookI bought this book as a supplement ONLY - it may indeed constitute a full curriculum but I found that the material was scattered willy-nilly throughout the book I wasn't sure why some things are repeated over and over and others are not For instance the book promises to teach "numbers that add to 7" - boy does it EVER You and your kids will either be giggling or groaning at all the 5's and 2's or 6's and 1's that he throws into the book Other volumes in the series cover numbers other than 7 I'm not sure why he chose 7 but my daughter loved automatically knowing the answer by the end of the book (7!)Finally Life of Fred: Dogs is fairly short - probably only a few weeks of regular reading though I tried to spread it out quite a bit (interspersed with LONG Little House on the Prairie chapters!) Most parents probably want the bulk of their math studies to involve a more rigorous and systematic curriculum that will last a good chunk of the yearBecause it's so short I wouldn't say this book is a terrific value At $16 for a few week's math reading it's a pricey curriculum supplement But for what it offers - a fun way to show kids that it's okay to play with math and not take the whole things so seriously - we will definitely be investing in the next book sometime soonNovember 1, 2011We are currently using this book as a supplement in our math lessons My daughter LOVES it She loves to draw and loves that it incorporates drawing in the math problems For example draw four alligators plus three alligators She loves it and giggles at the jokes and overall enjoys reading and learningApril 16, 2013Better than a textbookMy daughters love Life of Fred! In each book, you learn a bit about Fred and all his adventures as he explains math concepts. The math is explained and applied in the story so you understand the point of learning it. The tests are short but not without a challenge. It proves that you don't need to drill with 100 problems just to learn a math concept.August 24, 2016Purchased
1 year agoLove it!My kids ask to read Fred. They look forward to it.May 6, 2017Purchased
8 months agoGreat seriesI purchased this for my 7 year old special needs child. We use it slightly different than most. I read a chapter to him while he colors or builds with blocks. When we started Apples he didn't know his days of the week or months of the year. We are now in Butterflies and I'm amazed at what he has absorbed from this series. It's a slow and easy curriculum. A bit costly, but worth it. I have purchased (A-D) so far.March 29, 2017Purchased
11 months agoMy daughter loves it!My youngest daughter asks for this everyday, and her brother sits in too. He is actually picking up on things, even though he is 3 and not in "school" yet.November 14, 2017Purchased
1 month ago
Q & A
Browse 3 questions Browse 3 questions and 58 answersWhy did you choose this?Rainbow Resource Center StoreLife of Fred has worked well for my children as their learning styles are quite diverse.James B on Sep 1, 2017How long is each chapter meant to take?BEST ANSWER: Each chapter takes maybe a few minutes to read, and then to answer the questions. Some question sets go faster than others. Usually, my daughter will ask to do at least another chapter, and usually more. Because of this, and because the books are short, I just bring it in every once in awhile, to break up the normal math routine, and even so, we get through the books quickly, as she wants to see what's going to happen with Fred. At this point, we're looking forward to more adventures with Fred and Kingie. :-)is life of Fred religious or secular?BEST ANSWER: The author ascribes his work to be "to the glory of God". There is nothing overtly religious about the material. I've read through 3 books so far myself with one of my children and come across one instance where Fred is thankful to God for what he has. So it does promote Christian values - honesty, thankfulness, etc. but the references are few.
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