Life of Fred: Geometry Expanded Edition

Life of Fred: Geometry Expanded Edition

# 001195

Our Price: $49.00
In Stock.

Item #: 001195
ISBN: 9781937032210
Grades: 9-12

Even before we had a description of this math program on our website or in our catalog, we had many, many inquiries about it (and a goodly number of sales). Is it the name? Is it the concept of a small, pointy-nosed 5-year old teaching Calculus at Kittens University? Is it the outrageous storyline? Or are people desperate for another approach to math? Although I was the one who reviewed and decided to carry this program, I was initially skeptical about its scope. After all, much of the text was given over to following the Life of Fred, with all the strange humor and unlikely scenarios that go along with it. In fact, that's part of the attraction for a student who really doesn't enjoy math (yes, I have one of those). So, could the course possibly have the content that a more traditional text (like Saxon) has? Moreover, what type of person would actually use this course, as entertaining and whimsical as it is (if you can think whimsy and Calculus in one thought). Well, after using Life of Fred for Beginning Algebra and reading through most of the Fractions book, I think I can answer some of these questions.

First, Fred IS the unlikely mathematician in all of us. Despite his youth and other cards stacked against him (you'll have to read the books to understand this), Fred is amazingly successful as a math professor. Why? It's because he finds math so intriguing, entertaining, and downright USEFUL in everyday life (his life, the Life of Fred). Why, math is everywhere in the world of Fred - and no matter how things are going, he can always see the math in it.

Then, there's the psychology of Fred. You want to help the little guy. I mean, he's smart, but so innocent, kind, helpful, endearing - small, helpless, underweight (why, when he was erroneously inducted into the army, they had to use a little cup instead of a helmet for his uniform!). Clearly the underdog in many situations, Fred has ended up in the hospital in both books I've read - even though one injury was accidental. But I digress. You do get wrapped up in the Life of Fred. And because you're rooting for him and concerned about him, you kind of get taken up in the math that pervades his thoughts. No matter how tough the Life of Fred gets, he always has time to explain the finer points of math to those needy souls around him. Don't get me wrong, Fred has plenty of fun, too. He always makes the best of things and has some great student/friends at Kittens who also seem to need math in their everyday lives...

These are, indeed, the most unconventional full-program math texts I've ever seen. Maybe that's why students who dislike traditional programs are so drawn to LOF. The books just seem more accessible and - well, friendly. Maybe it's just the author's personality or particular gift, but students who are turned off by traditional math seem to find refreshment and even inspiration in LOF. Although you may have read some debate on whether the series is too lightweight for a basal program, my two cents is that it is not. The math is all here - and then some. What is missing is repetition, redundancy, and a multitude of problems to work. These books are like my favorite college math text. When I first saw it, I thought it was too slim for a whole-semester course. Ha! Every word in that book was loaded. The text was so cunningly and concisely written that you actually had to study every word because nothing was repeated. While LOF isn't quite that concise (it does have a complete storyline along with the math), Dr. Schmidt doesn't waste words or your time. Every problem is almost like a brainteaser - just a little out of your reach unless you truly grasp the concepts. It gives you a chance to figure things out for yourself. There's a whole lot of brain-stretching going on. Therefore, gifted math students are also drawn to these courses as they allow them to be challenged. Another good candidate for LOF is the remedial student who has already been through the course using another text. If it just didn't click, I would try this one. Finally, a motivated or independent student would also appreciate using the course. It's purposely addressed to the student and intended to be self-teaching. In fact, the author prefers that students use these with very little help from you so they can learn to study and understand on their own. Even the solutions are addressed to the student. In fact, there's a lot of actual instruction in the solutions, which students should read after trying to solve problems on their own. In short, just about EVERY student could use this program. The only shortfall I have seen in the program is for students who really need a lot of constant repetition and reinforcement. In some sections there are just not enough problems, even using the Home Companion. I had this problem twice in Beginning Algebra as serious as it needs to be. I both made up some of my own problems and supplemented with problems from Saxon Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 (some of the material is actually more advanced than in that series). I have since run across several other supplemental products that I could have used as well.

Life of Fred is a series of 12 courses. Two of these are Fractions and Decimals & Percents. The author recommends waiting to start these until your child is old enough to work on his/her own (about 5th grade). Each of these courses should take less than a quarter of a year to complete. The new LOF Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology is formatted like the previous books, with BRIDGES rather than CITIES. It would fit in a teaching sequence between Fractions and Decimals & Percents and Beginning Algebra. You can get a good idea of what is taught in the course and the proportion of biology to algebra by checking out the table of contents on our website. Literally a "dream come true", Fred is every bit as entertaining while teaching biology as he is when teaching math! While this course will not replace high school biology, it will replace much of the biology instruction in a general science course. Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics completes the pre-algebra instruction, this time delving into topics such as interest rates, competition, opportunity costs, supply and demand. Following the same format as the Fractions, Decimals & Percents and Pre-Algebra 1 and 2, Dr. Schmidt has released Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics (formerly Elementary Physics). This book fits nicely into the Life of Fred sequence between Decimals & Percents and Pre-Algebra 1. Dr. Schmidt feels that too much time is lost before presenting physics in high school and this book is designed as an introduction to fill that gap. Algebra and Advanced Algebra should each take a little more than half a year. While Geometry takes place during one day in the Life of Fred (a Thursday after his sixth birthday), it is definitely a full year course. Trigonometry can be completed in half of a year and Calculus (although covering two full years of calculus) will take one year. According to Mr. Schmidt, after this progression "you will be ready to declare as a math major at a university at the upper division level and take third-year (junior-level) mathematics courses". For even more Life of Fred, there is also a Statistics course which "has much more material than is normally covered in a beginning university statistics course". It's been years since my required course as a business major at a university - I may just take this one myself. Partly to test the author's assertion and partly because life is full of decisions and, as the author says, "Success in life is 90% making the right decisions in the first place" (the other 10% is carrying them out). Also new is Linear Algebra (as serious as it needs to be). Scanning through the book, it looks a lot like an upper-level course called Finite Math that I took in college. It covers: solving systems of equations with one solution (includes Gauss-Jordan elimination, Gaussian elimination), many solutions, and no solution (includes data fitting); matrices; vector spaces; inner product spaces (including Fourier series and Gram-Schmidt orthogonalization process); linear transformations; and systems of equations into the future (including eigenvalues, stochastic matrices, Markov chains, Fibonacci numbers) It is described by Dr. Schmidt as a math course required by most colleges for math majors and should be taught after Calculus As far as progression, Dr. Schmidt has placed it at the very end of his other courses, after Statistics. Like other upper-level courses, this one has "Your Turn to Play" sections separating textual chunks. Each chapter ends with six CITIES. There is a separate answer key for answers not included in the text.

Organization and format of the books is similar; of course, they all have a captivating storyline centering on Fred Gauss, a very young university math professor. The author, Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D., is a witty guy, a good storyteller, and he also loves math. Unlike many programs, the text is not written at a 6th grade level. If anything, the text is imbued with a little "extra" knowledge in different areas - especially vocabulary. Dr. Schmidt also appears to be a Christian man. Although his books aren't preachy and in places tend toward gritty realism, you will find a strong plug for goodness here, along with a main character who says his prayers every night. Fractions, Decimals and Percents, and the Pre-Algebra books are structured a little differently than the upper-level books. Chapters in these are short (as are the books), ending with a Your Turn to Play problem set, followed by complete solutions with explanation. Generally, after every five chapters, there's a BRIDGE taking you from the culmination of the preceding chapters to the new material. Actually, there are five BRIDGES - your student has five tries to make it across the BRIDGE. These contain a ten-question review of everything learned to that point. Mr. Schmidt recommends that students get at least nine out of ten right to move on. Answers to these are in the back of the book. The final BRIDGE has 15 questions (20 in Decimals) and, again, five tries to pass. This gives a student ample opportunity to go back, study the material, and try again without feeling like they've failed. It is built-in remediation, rather than just failing and still going on (isn't this also the way we train our children? If they don't get it right, they need to correct and do it again). Starting in Beginning Algebra, chapters are longer. For courses with the Home Companion available (Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry), this book breaks the chapters into bite-sized lessons. Natural breaks occur when the student encounters a Your Turn to Play (series of problems with completely-worked solutions following), but the Companions also provide sets of problems for each lesson in between. There are 108 lessons as laid out in the Fred's Home Companion Beginning Algebra study guide, but many of these are short; most students would combine some of them. By comparison, Saxon has 120 lessons, but this does not include testing whereas LOF's lesson count does. At the end of each chapter there are six CITIES (which all have names so you can assign a student to do Palmetto and Radcliffe for homework). Actually, I'm not sure why they have names - but, as with BRIDGEs, these determine whether to move forward. They have some review material from previous chapters, but are largely chapter recaps. They take roughly 20-30 minutes to complete and, again, give your student a chance to test, review, and test again (or you might work the first two cities together, assign the next two, and use the final two as tests). The first two CITIES have all answers provided; the next two have only odd answers shown; the last two have none. All answers not in the text are in the Home Companion or Answer Key. The back of each upper-level book (except Calculus) has an A.R.T. section (All Reorganized Together) containing definitions, formulae, theorems postulates - all the stuff you'd like summarized in one handy place together for easy reference. The Life of Fred actually begins in the Calculus as serious as it needs to be book (in which Fred is born), the first written (in 2001). Unlike the other volumes, it has all the Your Turn to Play questions and answers in the back and a Further Ado section containing even more rigorous material for you to include at your discretion. Possibly because this volume was originally written for college students, the material is edgier in this first book (Fred's dad drinks, his family is somewhat dysfunctional, and there are other allusions to drugs, alcohol and "hanky panky"). You may wish to skim ahead of your student and "edit" anything unsatisfactory.

So far, I'm giving a thumbs up to this unique (and slightly eccentric) math program. It has made math more palatable (and interesting) for my daughter. It has some unusual and novel approaches to problem solving (like a simple, foolproof method for factoring trinomials where the squared term has a coefficient > 1 instead of the guess and check approach employed in other books). It incorporates critical thinking and a discovery approach to math by its very nature. It integrates the value of learning in other curricular areas. It teaches math in the context of real life - okay, real life uses for math in a kind of surreal life. And, who wouldn't like a math book that begins, "Hi! This is going to be fun," then follows through on that promise? Visit for other Raves from Readers or to find out more about the content of the books - or even to contact the author directly. (You can even read some of Mr. Schmidt's 8:30 prayers). I'm not sure how Dr. Schmidt can include his home phone number on his website and encourage people to email and phone him with questions, but I have read several testimonies to his responsiveness. For a full scope and sequence, visit our website and take a peek at the table of contents for each level.

As a teacher, I have obviously enjoyed this course. But my daughter, Janine, has never had the innate appreciation for math that I do. Let's ask her what she thought (or thinks - we still have 14 lessons to go!). Here are her comments on Life of Fred Beginning Algebra as serious as it needs to be:

"I love Life of Fred because of, well, Fred! But also because this is the most creative math course I've ever seen. When I first looked at the math course, the thing that made me excited (besides the story) was not seeing millions of problems. Just a few, thought-provoking and even funny ones. In the lesson book, you'll only have one small page, then you can be done. The Cities don't even have that many problems. But they are all worth your time and un-repetitive, and most inspire a challenge or are a little puzzle. Mom didn't think it would be a full-fledged math course. But the more we've worked through it, I've seen that it's quite a bit harder and requires more thinking. No wonder it's been put on some "gifted" lists. Moving along... .the writing is HILARIOUS! It's almost like Stanley Schmidt and I have the same sense of humor sometimes. I've read Fractions and most of Begininng Algebra and enjoyed both immensely. It's a ridiculous, bizarre little series, which makes me love it all the more! My brother likes it so much he showed it to his college friends... and of course they all laughed. The characters are amazing, and the illustrations (especially of Fred) are priceless. Stanley even has a little fun subtly (and not so subtly) teasing movies, doctors, math books and a whole myriad of things, and he has never failed at amusing me. Math was my most hated subject. And while I can't say that I had a complete turnaround and wake up every morning saying "YAY! I get to do math today! Wheeeeee!" I can say that Life of Fred has taken all the dullness out, keeps me captivated, and injected a lot of fun. I'd call it an art piece, if a math book can be an art piece. An amazing, amazing series, even more so considering we're talking about a math course."

Well, there you have it - from teacher and student. Who says math can't be entertaining?

Category Description for Life of Fred:

Life of Fred (LOF) is an unconventional series of math texts that seem accessible and friendly, especially for students who dislike traditional programs. According to Dr. Schmidt, the author, this series is designed to teach you the math you need to know without repetition, redundancy, and a multitude of problems to work. LOF follows the storyline of Fred's life while incorporating solid math concepts and skills. Motivated or independent students will appreciate this series, as well as gifted math students who might need a challenge. Written to the student and intended to be self-teaching, the author prefers that students use these with very little help from you, so they can learn to study and understand on their own. Even the solutions (found in the text) are addressed to the student. In fact, there's a lot of actual instruction in the solutions, which students should read after trying to solve problems on their own. Math in a story context can sometimes make more sense to students than stand-alone math concepts - especially if it's an entertaining story! Students do two books per year up through pre-algebra; beginning with algebra, one book per year.


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The Life of Fred books are the only math books that my kids actually want to read. This curriculum is solid, but the fact that my kids actually enjoy math time with Fred makes these books especially brilliant.
Marie A on Aug 11, 2023
My daughter loves the life of fred storyline. I'm buying this book a year before we need it because she will begin to read and absorb information just for fun which makes it so much easier when the time for assignments come.
Elizabeth P on Jun 24, 2022
The Life of Fred books are the only math books that my kids actually want to read. This curriculum is solid, but the fact that my kids actually enjoy math time with Fred makes these books especially brilliant.
Marie A on Aug 11, 2023
My oldest understand from real world applications and storties
Amber S on Jun 20, 2023
My daughter loves the life of fred storyline. I'm buying this book a year before we need it because she will begin to read and absorb information just for fun which makes it so much easier when the time for assignments come.
Elizabeth P on Jun 24, 2022
She is almost done with Adv Algebra so time to order!
Talia S on Feb 7, 2022
Geometry is one of those things you actually may use in life. It is also not one of the harder maths; his tutor expects Geometry to be a one semester course. I wanted my child to be able to apply the concepts learned and the story form should take the formulas and make the leap to application.
Tonya M on Aug 5, 2021
Love Life of Fred!
Hailey A on Aug 3, 2021
My daughter loves the Life of Fred series for it's fun style and I love its solid teaching.
Sherilyn B on Jul 20, 2021
We have used every previous level of Life of Fred books. The stories are engaging, the problems are to the point, and the review (or sometimes preview of algebra is lower levels) of topics well done for mastery. Excellent series!<br />PS I have a Masters in Mathematics.
Minde A on Jun 17, 2021
I love Life of Fred. We use these in conjunction with another more structured math series to reinforce concepts that may have been forgotten. LoF has such an integrated approach that nothing gets left behind!
Lauren C on Apr 4, 2021
Looked like a good fit for my son.
Lauren T on Jan 5, 2021
My daughter has a learning disability and I heard good things.
Kimberly F on Sep 19, 2020
Heard good things about it
Sanae W on Sep 10, 2020
While the approach is rather unconventional, it is complete; even my math-reluctant kids enjoy it and succeed at it.
Jodi M on Aug 16, 2020
My upcoming 11th grader will be using Life of Fred Geometry to fulfill her geometry requirement for high school. She has tried other math curriculum, but Life of Fred is what has worked well for her. The storyline helps her understand "why she needs to learn this".
Roshelle S. on May 16, 2020
Faith N on Aug 16, 2019
Our family absolutely loves Life of Fred. It has been especially fun for our son who enjoys literature and story more than math. The series is fun and yet still very serious about teaching the concepts well. The only thing that has been frustrating at times is that the answers are frequently on the same page as the problems and so to be honest our children have to very actively cover them up while working. That's a bit hard. Great series though - we have used 6-7 different books.
Shawn M on Apr 3, 2019
I have a child that struggles in math but excels in critical & logical thinking. When enquiring with other homeschooling families this program was recommended the most. So we are trying it.
Lisa D on Nov 21, 2018
My oldest student struggled his way through Geometry last year, and never was able to complete it. I have LoF Algebra and it is such an easier way to learn math, without the teacher needing to be a math major.
Scott U on Sep 1, 2018
My oldest daughter has used Life of Fred Math for 4 years now and learns very well from it. We look forward to another year of Life of Fred Math.
Jesse Z on Aug 14, 2018
My daughter loves Life of Fred and has used this as her sole math program since LOF Kidneys.
Christi D on Jul 24, 2018
My son has decided he loves Life of Fred books, so we are continuing with this one.
Melissa M on Jul 24, 2018
We love Life of Fred. Can't wait to see how Joe reacts to geometry proofs!
Suzette P on Apr 10, 2018
These math books were the key to my teenager to finally "Get" math. She actually enjoys learning math for the first time since starting H.S. She has worked her way up to the Geometry from Decimals. All of them are amazing, I started with Apples with my younger daughter and she tells me all the time," please do not make me switch to a different math, I love Life Of Fred!" lol
Trish K on Apr 4, 2018
Following the math sequence for my 9th grader.
Nadine T on Feb 19, 2018
We love Life of Fred's math series. It is fun, teaches beyond just a test question, and engaging. We have enjoyed several years of Fred and look forward to the next part of the story.
P B on Feb 11, 2018
Excellent Excellent Excellent!
Nicole C on Jan 16, 2018
Looking for a short Geometry course
Terry C W on Oct 7, 2017
My son needed a geometry and we needed something to keep his interest so we chose this.
Michaele K on Sep 29, 2017
Have used LOF series for years. Its the best program and my son & I both really like it.
Heather M on Sep 13, 2017
I hope it helps us get through Geometry.
Laura P on Aug 28, 2017
review geometry for my son
Alyssa J on Aug 17, 2017
My son requested this curriculum. He loves LOF books--they are interesting and make application to real life situations come alive.
User on Aug 16, 2017
While home schooling, we used several of the Life of Fred books for math and language arts. My grandson decided to go to a public school for his high school experience. He is scheduled for Advanced Geometry next fall but asked me to get the Life of Fred: Geometry for him for this summer. When my teenager asks for a learning tool to use in the summer, I provide it!
Karen R on Jun 21, 2017
part of co-op curriculum
Tara G on May 4, 2017
Life of Fred works well with non-natural math learners. I have found that Life of Fred and Developmental Math workbooks work well together. Both are self paced, mastery based curriculum. Dev Math workbooks compliment Fred well. They give a traditional look to the end of the year portfolio alongside of Fred's outside the box style.
michelle L on Apr 17, 2017
We like Life of Fred and are using it to add to our math curriculum.
Deanna B on Aug 14, 2016
Next in series that we are happily using.
Christina S on Aug 13, 2016
It looks like an intriguing and less- boring way to teach geometry. A dose of humor goes a long way.
Laurie S on Feb 11, 2016
I was recommended this book
Jane G on Jan 18, 2016
My oldest understand from real world applications and storties
Amber S on Jun 20, 2023
She is almost done with Adv Algebra so time to order!
Talia S on Feb 7, 2022
Several questions come to mind: 1. How long does each book take to complete (thinking specifically of Geometry & Trigonometry)? 2. How do you "grade" LOF since there aren't really any tests? 3. Has anyone gone from Saxon Algebra I & II to LOF Geometry and how did it go? Thank you!!
A shopper on Jun 27, 2017
BEST ANSWER: You could score bridges but there is always a balance between diligence, aptitude, improvement and mastery. Stanley Schmidt (the author) gives some grading suggestions on his website both for "internal use" grading and transcript grading.
5.0 / 5.0
1 Review
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Rated 5 out of 5
We love Life of Fred! Definitely our favorite curriculum.
October 13, 2019
over 4 years ago

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