Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics

Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics

# 054567

Our Price: $39.00
In Stock.

Item #: 054567
ISBN: 9781937032227
Grades: 6-8

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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Grade Start
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Hardcover Book
Brand Name
Polka Dot Publishing
1.6688 (lbs.)
10.38" x 7.25" x 0.86"
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Why did you choose this?
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Preparing 9th Grader to quickly achieve mastery without redundant problems like other math curriculum. Also books are engaging to reader/student and student wants to do the problems (especially because there are few required).
Sigrid on Mar 16, 2023
My sons love Life of Fred Math books the books keep the boys engaged and interested. Always looking forward to the next book.
Edith S on Sep 5, 2022
Preparing 9th Grader to quickly achieve mastery without redundant problems like other math curriculum. Also books are engaging to reader/student and student wants to do the problems (especially because there are few required).
Sigrid on Mar 16, 2023
My son took classes
Martha B on Jan 9, 2023
My sons love Life of Fred Math books the books keep the boys engaged and interested. Always looking forward to the next book.
Edith S on Sep 5, 2022
combining math with science
Natasha B on Apr 3, 2022
Excellent material, challenging and entertaining. All math should be Life of Fred math!
Tabitha F on Mar 26, 2022
My Middle and High School aged children are not at grade level. (One is very math-minded; the other has ADD) I have been needing something that they can learn from on their own. I have tried Math Mammoth, but they just haven't been motivated or get frustrated. My math-minded kid is zooming through Kidneys to catch up. He's one of those kids that hears something once and gets it. I'm hoping he'll keep up the momentum through the next two books before we start this one.
Gabriela G on Mar 26, 2021
adding next level of math to our collection. our kids love these books!
Elaine D on Mar 10, 2021
We like the narrative format. It is easy for the student to self teach, which my independent son needs. This is a little less intense the Art of Problem Solving Prealgebra so we're using this as a bridge to AOPS.
Clara A on Mar 6, 2021
I really like LoF curriculum and the different math experience it provides. <br />Connecting math to real life is much more meaningful for many students.
Sharon B on Mar 4, 2021
next book in the series. We have loved this curriculum
Cari H on Feb 23, 2021
we needed to try something new and we loved life of Fred when my 8the grader was little. Hoping to be impressed again!!
Diana A on Sep 2, 2020
Chosen by my daughter's homeschool teacher. She believes it is easier to understand.
Tina M on Aug 31, 2020
Starting pre-algebra with my younger son will be a breeze with LOF!
Shanon P on Jul 23, 2020
Good recommendations I read online
Crystal V on Jul 20, 2020
good reviews
maureen a on Jul 20, 2020
We've loved the previous books in this series
Cynthia A on Jul 1, 2020
I liked the concept and hope my math challenged daughter will too.
Mimi W on Jun 14, 2020
My son doesn't like math. The last time he ever made a positive comment about math was when he was completing a Life of Fred book from the elementary series so I'm hoping Fred can make math fun again.
Eve S on May 4, 2020
Innovative approach. Looks like it will be interesting and challenging. I like the Christian aspect, too.
Elaine H on Feb 3, 2020
Next level to continue our progression with LoF
The Life of Fred books are a more engaging method to learn to apply math to everyday situations. The author throws in a surprising number of interesting topics which, at least in our house, has led to further research and engagement.
Shawnya H on Sep 5, 2019
Love Life of Fred math books. Daughter chose it for her prealgebra.
Erik H on Aug 25, 2019
I bought 1 and 2 used but couldn't find 0
Amy H on Jul 11, 2019
Supplement my daughter's math program from school
Jennifer H on Jun 2, 2019
Recommended by other homeschool moms
Hailey A on Jul 18, 2018
Summer Enrichment
Jaime T on Jun 13, 2018
My grandson has been having trouble with standard math texts. This looks like a way he may learn to enjoy math rather than dread it.
Marilyn P on May 14, 2018
Success with LOF Fractions & Decimals
Claudine W on Mar 21, 2018
My children love math again because of Life of Fred
Christianna R on Mar 14, 2018
Jun Z on Feb 7, 2018
These Fred books are GREAT because they help them see how math applies to "real life!" They provide an integrated approach to math that kids LOVE. It's amazing how much they learn about the subject math is being integrated with. The author has a sense of humor and my kids and I enjoy that too. And if your child needs LOTS of repitition, you can get the supplemental book with "zillions" of problems.
laurie d on Dec 18, 2017
My kids are loving life of Fred, and although they may not work through all the intermediate books, they want to be darn sure they don't miss any of Fred's adventures. It's a weird reason to be buying math books, I know.
Dawn S on Dec 13, 2017
my son loves Fred and is continuing his series
Tara K on Dec 11, 2017
Check out a math curriculum to follow Mammoth Math.
Janice B on Dec 4, 2017
My 7th grader is doing great with Fred Decimals and Percents, so we are continuing with the series.
Jeremy K on Nov 14, 2017
Next book for our oldest to complete in the series
Adam B on Oct 19, 2017
Looking into this math curriculum
Hope J on Sep 30, 2017
Fred is the absolute best!
User on Sep 13, 2017
Looking for an alternative math perspective - friend recommended this.
Colleen R on Aug 14, 2017
Many Teaching Textbooks users supplement algebra and higher courses with Life of Fred.
Cyndi B on Jun 29, 2017
My 12 y.o. loves these books to read for fun.
Lucy H on Jun 25, 2017
We've used Life of Fred and have enjoyed it. Hoping to have this count for Physics and Math for my 6th grader
Thomas M on Jun 16, 2017
My 6th grade daughter requested using the Decimals and Percents and this book over the summer, after a friend lent us Fractions last summer. She did around three lessons a day last time because she was eager to read the story. I think she would otherwise be unwilling to do math over the summer break.
User on May 17, 2017
My younger kids are enjoying Life of Fred elementary series and now my older kids are begging for Life of Fred to go along with their higher level math courses.
Christopher W on Apr 7, 2017
My three older children all used Teaching Textbooks - which I love. However, because Life of Fred has such great reviews, I thought I would try them with my youngest son. Middle school math is so redundant, I wanted to try something enjoyable.
Margaret B on Mar 13, 2017
Life of Fred is the best math curriculum I have found for my very bright daughter (age 10). I intend to continue using this curriculum until she completes high school.
Louise A on Dec 11, 2016
My son loves physics so I am hoping this will help him with his math.
Lori U on Nov 24, 2016
LOF is wonderful teaching math and other real world applications. It has made math more exciting for my children.
Pamela S on Oct 27, 2016
Life of Fred has helped all six of my children understand math in a way that enables logical application rather than route memory. My two oldest sons are in engineering school now and have a fantastic grasp of math.
Katharine G on Oct 3, 2016
Life of Fred is a good and fun math curriculum. If it seems like you can't do both, check out their website and the scope and sequence to see the material they cover.
Kent J on Oct 3, 2016
My son took classes
Martha B on Jan 9, 2023
combining math with science
Natasha B on Apr 3, 2022
Do you need a graphing calculator or any extra tools for this set?
Kamelia B. on Aug 6, 2021
BEST ANSWER: Sorry, I don't remember for certain, but I don't think there are any additional tools necessary. It's possible that we used things were already had (such as a ruler, etc). I definitely know that you do not need a graphing calculator, though.
Does this include the teacher's book?
A shopper on Mar 13, 2018
BEST ANSWER: The Life of Fred series does not have a separate teacher's book. Dr. Schmidt explains concepts well and the answers to the math problems are included right after the practice section called, "Your Turn to Play". We have used this series from the very first book. My son has just begun reading the Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics and it is a little slower going than the other books. I think this is due to the fact that Physics can be complicated and he has to think harder to understand the concepts. Dr. Schmidt has a website for his books and can answer more questions if you have them. I am not allowed to post the website, but if you use a search engine with the title of the series I am sure you will find the website. I hope this was helpful.
Is Life of Fred Pre-algebra 0 a book that is required before starting the other pre-algebra books in the series?
A shopper on Dec 11, 2017
BEST ANSWER: Yes, the three books all go together. These might be my favorite of the entire Life of Fred collection (up through beginning algebra, which is where my oldest student is now). Together, they both show students how math is used in multiple contexts as well as hone computation skills using word problems. After working though all three, students should be very ready to tackle algebra. But the books are worthwhile in their own right, not just as preparatory material, which I think is unusual for pre-algebra.
Looking for a 7th grade curriculum after using Abeka for 6th - is LOF comprehensive? Do you need more than one book to start?
A shopper on Jul 2, 2016
BEST ANSWER: When we went to LOF, we had them run through all the books, up to the one they needed to be in (we have 5 going through them, so had purchased the whole set.) My daughter did all the younger ones in about a day or 2 each, then went into the Physics before she began to get 'stuck'. I spoke with a homeschool book vendor about LOF, and she was confident that it put my daughter where she should be in 8th grade. It has slowed her progress once she got into the physics book, but it is new and more complicated information for her. I like how FRED connects different areas of subject matter. The only thing I would say about needing different books, and the reason we had them go through from the beginning, is to make sure they had all the basics that get referred to in the next book. You could probably go from ABeka to FRED without a problem.
4.9 / 5.0
8 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
Rated 5 out of 5
Fred def makes us think about math in a different way!! My 8th grader loves it. This paired with zillions makes a thorough math curr. Plus it’s fun:)
October 3, 2020
over 2 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Fun way to learn pre-algebra. I would highly recommend the other pre-algebra books. Our son had so much fun doing all three books. He was well prepared for Algebra I.
October 1, 2019
over 4 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
This book will be very helpful in showing my students the math and science connection!
July 31, 2019
over 3 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
My daughter is loving this book thus far. She’s learning Physic equations and how they relate in the real world. This has her excited for the next book pertaining to Biology.
May 13, 2019
over 3 years ago
Rated 4 out of 5
Jumping in late
We are enjoying this book, even though we are just beginning the LOF journey. It definitely takes the tears out of math.
December 2, 2018
over 4 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Life of Fred curriculum is great.We are really enjoy it.
March 9, 2018
over 5 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
Algebra made interesting
Life of Fred Pre Algebra With Physics was exactly what we have come to expect from LOF math. If your kids are already Fred fans they will enjoy the continued stories of his life, and if they're just meeting Fred he'll become a friend soon. This book introduces some basic algebra concepts and then a lot more. It's hard to say how much of the physics aspect will stick with my son, but at least he is getting a solid introduction to a course I was never even brave enough to try. The lessons are short and manageable so math is never drudgery here. My 6th grade son worked through this book independently. When he had trouble I was able to read the chapter with him or check out the complete solutions and help him figure it out. We are happy with LOF overall and this particular course is no exception.
August 16, 2017
over 6 years ago
Rated 5 out of 5
My daughter loves it!
My 7th grader has recently transitioned to homeschool from traditional schooling. She absolutely loves how Life of Fred incorporates humor and story into learning math and physics. She said it's better than any other math she's taken. I'm very pleased with the the results academically! Highly recommend
June 21, 2016
over 6 years ago

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