Life of Fred: Apples

Life of Fred: Apples

# 029719

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Item #: 029719
ISBN: 9780979107245
Grades: 1-4

Product Description:

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 lap...and finish the series sitting on his/her lap!" It's as simple as ABC...just 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.

I was sold even before I opened Apples by the picture of Archimedes 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.

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.


Primary Subject
Grade Start
Grade End
Hardcover Book
Brand Name
Z-twist Books
0.9688 (lbs.)
10.38" x 7.25" x 0.55"
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Why did you choose this?
Rainbow Resource Center Store
Math supplement to our current homeschool curriculum.
Jeanette G on Oct 19, 2021
LOF is a favorite here. I moved cross country and had to sell my books. We are re-stocking
Lisa A on Jun 30, 2021
Math supplement to our current homeschool curriculum.
Jeanette G on Oct 19, 2021
Want to see if it will help my 2nd grader understand math better.
Corie E on Jun 30, 2021
LOF is a favorite here. I moved cross country and had to sell my books. We are re-stocking
Lisa A on Jun 30, 2021
Has good reviews and I think it will work well for my family.
Larrissa G on May 15, 2021
Good reviews, supplement to Rightstart Math
Alaina M on May 3, 2021
living math curriculum homeschool
Marie O on Apr 4, 2021
After previewing a copy from the library, we have chosen to start using LOF. We have an unconventional, absurd sense of humor in this family (We love Monty Python, Weird Al, etc.) My naturally mathy children love the books and probably won't need anything else. My right-brained kids may need supplements. I love the range of concepts explored in the texts.
Gabriela G on Mar 26, 2021
We need a different approach to math, thought we would try Life of Fred
Carole M on Feb 27, 2021
If my kids don't enjoy this, I know I will.
Kristin D on Feb 11, 2021
My kids struggle with math because they find it boring. After looking at lots of reviews I chose to try Life of Fred because it seems very non-math-y. I am hoping the silliness of the stories will engage my kids and that the practice feels sufficient enough for me to use it as our main math curriculum.
Krysann S on Jan 17, 2021
Looks like an engaging way to teach math.
Tanya R on Jan 16, 2021
This is a brilliant , deep yet playful program . I believe my students will learn the beauty of math.
Teresa O on Dec 11, 2020
Using this as a morning basket math warm-up activity.
Elaine R on Dec 6, 2020
Recommended by a relative who is homeschooling.
Pamela S on Nov 12, 2020
i have heard such wonderful things about this, I want to read to all of my children even tho my oldest should grasp it all she struggles so hopefully this will engage her and i will buy the rest.
Erica A on Nov 7, 2020
My son enjoyed the Butterflies book that a friend gave us and wants to read more about Fred.
Tracy G on Nov 6, 2020
I'm pairing this with Mammoth Math
Lynnessa S on Sep 2, 2020
I am iterested to try narrative-style math with my family
Christina O on Aug 21, 2020
This looks so unique and I find nothing but good reviews. I can't wait to try it with my son, who has already decided he "doesn't like math."
Rachael P on Aug 21, 2020
My son is highly engaged in reading anything and everything so I am going to use this to supplement his math curriculum.
Jilayne M on Aug 5, 2020
Highly recommended by lots of homeschool moms.
Miranda A on Aug 3, 2020
Recommended by an experienced home school mom.
Amy H on Jul 30, 2020
Home school option
CHRISTIANNA W on Jul 21, 2020
My son loves math and I heard this would be a unique curriculum that will help him keep his love of learning!
Rachel C on Jul 11, 2020
Seemed like it would be the best fit for my child.
Christina L on Jul 8, 2020
The reviews for this series seemed to fit with the learning style of my son.
Mary F on Jul 4, 2020
Suggested by friend whose kids LOVE
Elizabeth H on Jun 24, 2020
Summer math supplement.
Katrina M on May 22, 2020
cathy duffy reco, summer homeschool
Natalie C on Apr 17, 2020
It was recommended by a friend as a product that is useful for teaching math to students and adults.
Kathleen M on Apr 9, 2020
Previously seen in person. Kids are now to the correct age
AMANDA B on Mar 27, 2020
Looking for a fun supplement/new approach for math with my children. This will supplement a Montessori based mathematics curriculum.
Kaycie L on Jan 31, 2020
I had heard about Life of Fred from another homeschool mom, have been struggling with my kids hating math (they're creatives), and then got the email this morning with the glorious VIDEO review which sealed the deal. I'm starting at the very beginning - a very good place to start!
Emily M on Jan 28, 2020
Recommendation from a friend
Candice B on Oct 14, 2019
Homeschooling special needs
Thomas H on Aug 24, 2019
I’ve heard great things about it
Jennifer R on Jul 31, 2019
had really good reviews
nicholas A on May 22, 2019
I am giving this title a try (the first in the series) because I want to demonstrate that math is all around us all the time. There are stories in math....not just "boring" figures. This is the basis of "word problems"...and word problems are why math is important, we use it all the time! I try to do this in my daily tasks, but sometimes a story book can help fill in.
Amy S on Apr 26, 2019
Highly recommended program
Hansen H on Apr 7, 2019
I use Right Start math and will continue to do so. My daughter does not love RS, but she LOVES to read anything. This will be optional for her, but I think she will enjoy it. Ultimately, I purchased out of curiosity.
KATHERINE S on Jan 26, 2019
Danielle D on Dec 16, 2018
I was recommend by my sister-in-law to use this math program. After looking over it, it includes a lot of great aspects of learning and makes it easy for the kids to learn and want to continue to grow. It also introduces the children to higher education type math so when they start to learn it officially, it doesn't seem as overwhelming as they've already seen it before.
Stephanie H on Nov 29, 2018
My kids love reading so thought I would try this math curriculum.
brandy b on Oct 24, 2018
looking for engaging math curriculm
Heather N on Sep 15, 2018
My son has difficulty with math. I've heard of this and thought we'd get one book to try.
virginia b on Aug 25, 2018
Fun!! Everyone I know using this program says that it is very child led and fun! And my son who has autism needs a math program that shows him how to use math in the real world.
Michelle A on Aug 21, 2018
I've heard amazing things about this curriculum and am very much looking forward to trying it this year!
Jennifer P on Aug 16, 2018
Fun way to review his Abeka Math
Jacquetta J on Jul 25, 2018
lower price than elsewhere
Morgan F on Jul 13, 2018
I heard about it on a podcast and they really liked the book. I bought it for my 7 and 5 year old.
Deborah M on Jun 27, 2018
Want to see if it will help my 2nd grader understand math better.
Corie E on Jun 30, 2021
Has good reviews and I think it will work well for my family.
Larrissa G on May 15, 2021
How does the LOF program work? Is Apples, Butterflies, Cats, and Dogs a complete 1st grade program? Or is each book for a different grade level? Or do you keep using the books up through 4th grade? The book says its complete and comprehensive but since some are recommending supplementing I want to know what topics would I need to supplement for 1st grade: a little bit everywhere or just a few key topics?
A shopper on Nov 29, 2019
Life of Fred: Apples
Life of Fred: Apples
Life of Fred: Butterflies
Life of Fred: Butterflies
Life of Fred: Cats
Life of Fred: Cats
Life of Fred: Dogs
Life of Fred: Dogs
BEST ANSWER: Each LoF book builds on itself, so Butterflies adds a few more addition facts to those previously in Apples. If you have a highly motivated learner, you could supplement with handwritten problems you think up yourself. But the point of LoF is not to purposely give them pages of work to overwhelm them. With my current 1st grader I often leave it at Your Chance to Play questions, whereas my 2nd grader loves the challenge of extra problems. He is up to Goldfish now.
How long is each chapter meant to take?
A shopper on Feb 18, 2016
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?
A shopper on Dec 11, 2015
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.
4.7 / 5.0
17 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
Rated 5 out of 5
we read a chapter each day the my grandchildren love it.
April 4, 2021
8 months ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Life of Fred
Just started Apples and although it is super easy, I understand that it will become more difficult as we progress through the books.
March 30, 2021
9 months ago
Rated 4 out of 5
We like Fred between MUS Levels
We use Math-U-See as our main math curriculum. I was supplementing with Life of Fred one day a week to have something fun to look forward to and to introduce a few extra concepts. About halfway through Apples, I decided we just needed to focus on MUS. We came back to LOF after my youngest finished MUS Primer and before starting MUS Alpha. Doing Fred every day is much better than once a week since it's a continuous story. My 5-year-old thinks it's hilarious and wants to do more than one chapter a day. He's remembering everything we're reading. This morning, he told his oldest brother the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees and how that Fred does not equal a bowl of soup (ch. 13). He wants to go on to LOF Butterflies next. We're having fun with it between MUS levels. I like it as a supplement, at least in the elementary levels. My middle son used LOF Fractions with MUS Epsilon (also about fractions), and Fred got very confusing and frustrating for him. So, Fred can be fun and make you think, but it's not supportive enough for a student who struggles with the concepts.
February 12, 2021
Rated 5 out of 5
My son loves it!
We love this! My son excels at Math and I had too quickly introduced him to a more advanced curriculum. He began to loathe Math! So I put the advanced away for a while and introduced LoF and he wanted to do lots of chapters at once! I know some use this as full curriculum and some as a supplement. For us, it’s a nice change of pace and for now we will continue with it and the other curriculum just at a much slower pace.
November 14, 2020
1 year ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Funny, engaging! We are living the story of fred and kingie and the real world math is easy to understand!
October 7, 2020
1 year ago
Rated 4 out of 5
ugly but AMAZING
once you get past the ugly, this is an engaging series that will bring back the love of math in your child.
February 27, 2020
1 year ago
Rated 1 out of 5
Not for us
Too much story and not enough math. Don't waste your money.
August 9, 2019
over 3 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
My 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, 2017
over 4 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Love it!
My kids ask to read Fred. They look forward to it.
May 6, 2017
over 4 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Great series
I 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, 2017
over 4 years ago

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