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Before I started homeschooling my children, I had never even heard of the Life of Fred Elementary Math series. Once I became involved in some homeschooling groups, I kept hearing it mentioned and people really seemed to like it. As a math teacher, I wanted to take a look for myself and see what all of the hype was about. We’re almost done with the second book. We will definitely be finishing the 10 book series, because my kids love it so much. However, I have some things that I really like and also some things I don’t. I created this review to help you make the decision about whether to use it with your children.
How we use Life of Fred Elementary Math
We started with the Life of Fred Apples book, which is the first book in the series. I read one chapter per day aloud to my 5 and 8 year old, and they answer the questions at the end of the chapter. We completed the first book very quickly, as there are only 18 chapters in the book. I ordered the second book Butterflies, and we are just about to finish. We spend around 30 minutes per day to read a chapter and write out the answers. Note: My children are also practicing their Multiplication Story cards a couple of times per week, playing math games and using math workbooks daily.
What I Like about Life of Fred Elementary Math
My kids think Life of Fred is fun.
They talk about Fred a lot outside of math time and look forward to reading a chapter each day. There are also some funny parts in the reading, so they’re actually listening.
The math content fits right into the stories.
It’s not boring like a math textbook. Kids think they’re reading a story and don’t always realize they’re picking up math concepts in a fun way.
You can use it with multiple ages.
If you have more than one child, this can be a time saver!
What I don’t like about Life of Fred Elementary Math
It doesn’t require much practice.
The repetition is minimal. A handful of questions after each chapters doesn’t seem to be enough to fully master the topics in some cases.
Sample Question Set
You move through the books too quickly.
Even at one chapter per day, you can get through a book in less than a month. This can add up in cost if you want to work through the whole series. Reading one chapter per day, you could actually blow through the entire 10 book series in one school year and spend over $100.
Can Life of Fred be used as a stand alone math curriculum?
Honestly, I don’t think it should be a stand alone curriculum. While we enjoy the books, I wouldn’t use it without supplementing other resources. At the very least, you’d need to do some hard core math facts practice in addition to Life of Fred. And, ideally, it would just be used as a fun supplement to a more robust math curriculum.
Frequently Asked Questions about Life of Fred Elementary Math
At what age can you start using Life of Fred?
If you plan to read with your child, I think age 5 would be a good starting point. If you don’t plan to read with them, I would put that age a little higher.
Does Life of Fred contain religious content?
It’s not overly religious, but it does contain a few religious comments. It might not be a great fit for secular homeschoolers since most math curriculums are not religious at all.
Does my child need to be an independent reader to use Life of Fred?
If you want your child to work independently, then yes. The book uses a lot of math vocabulary. An average kindergarten student would definitely struggle. My eight year old can read it without help.
Excerpt to show Reading Level
Do I need to start with the first book Apples?
I would start with Apples because there is a lot of background info about Fred in the first book. The series reads through like an ongoing story. However, the math content in Apples is very simple (think basic addition), so you might want to jump to Butterflies for that reason.
Additional Thoughts on Life of Fred
Fred makes some really bad food choices. If your family is sensitive about healthy eating, you may not love that he lives on vending machine food and mostly drink sugar water.
The Life of Fred books would be a great choice for kids who may not like math, but really like to read. Many on the math concepts are disguised and the content is engaging.
Have you used Life of Fred? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!