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Make Math Come Alive with Life of Fred {Review}

Do you ever feel like it’s easy to get kids to love reading?

But it’s like pulling teeth to get your kids to do math?

I hear you!

Life of Fred Book Review - Make Math Come Alive!


Of my four kids, one came out of the womb loving math. I swear he could count before he could speak.

But the other three … well … it’s been a journey.

Along the way, I decided that I wanted my kids to love math. Because math is beautiful.

I didn’t want them to think math was just numbers on a white piece of paper that they plugged and chugged.

I wanted them to see that math was EVERYWHERE -- in the way flowers bloomed, in the way that water boiled, in the way the ball rolled down the hill.

It is patterns and shapes -- a living, breathing way to explain the world.

So we spent lots of time looking at the beauty of math.

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But I also knew that they needed to enjoy computation -- so with my oldest I started using books that made computation fun and engaging.

No blank white pages for us -- I wanted stories and giggles and laughter.

One of my favorite resources that I found to help us do that was Life of Fred, a curriculum that incorporates heavy-duty math into a silly, engaging story that all my kids have loved.

They read it for fun. Seriously.

So if you’re looking to make a math a little more alive, CLICK HERE to check Life of Fred out for your homeschool.


Hey guys! ToriAnn Perkey here! From my homeschool to your homeschool. Today, I wanna talk about living math and how you can incorporate it into your homeschool. And then I have a really cool resource that we've used in my home, one of our living math resources.

So what is living math? Well, living math is the idea that math is more than just plugging numbers into equations. It's more than just counting, telling time, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Math is alive. It's all around us and it explains the world. It explains why things work and it's beautiful. Math is beautiful. And in order for your kids to love math, they are going to fall in love with the idea that math is a wonderful, beautiful thing aside from computation.

So how do you do that? How do you take a subject that, for most of us in school, was pretty dry and boring unless we loved it inherently? And how do we turn it into something alive? Well, it comes from seeing how math fits into the bigger world. Seeing how math gets used everyday. And it comes from seeing that math can make us giggle and laugh and be in wonder and awe.

And there are many many resources out there to help you do this. And most of those resources are kind of a pick and choose. It can be a book that you read or a game that you play and I've talked about a lot of those as I've made these videos and these reviews and I'll talk about a lot more. Because this was an area where I felt really really strongly that I wanted my kids to fall in love.

But I do believe there is one curriculum in the math homeschool world that is particularly suited for anyone who wants to have more living math in their home. And it's more suited for kids who are interested in math from a language arts point of view. So these are gonna be kids who don't just wanna sit down and do a workbook but they want it to be incorporated into a story.

The reason I found these books is because my oldest was like that. She loved, loved, loved stories. But she didn't love sitting down and doing a workbook. And so that's when I went and found Life of Fred. Seriously, a math curriculum called Life of Fred. What? I know, sounds super silly. And if you've heard about this, you know it's amazing. If you haven't let me introduce you to Fred.

I'm gonna show you his picture. This was one of our first introductions to this book. This is Fred. He's a simple line drawing because the guy who wrote this curriculum, brilliant mathematician named, wanna make sure I say his name right, Stanley Schmidt was doing all the drawings himself. The illustrations are pretty crazy. They're all either hand-drawn silly like barely, barely illustrations. Or they're clip-art pulled off of the internet, it's just part of the style.

But let me tell you what I love about Life of Fred. It's all about a five year old kid who is a brilliant mathematician who works as a professor in an imaginary university called Kitten's University in Kansas. And the reason he is there teaching is because he was left there by his parents and you don't even hear that story until way into the calculus book. But he was left there by his parents and he makes a living teaching math. He's brilliant at math, but he's not so smart at, like the wisdom of living in the world. So he has to learn how to navigate the world while solving math.

And it's all sorts of situations and problems that he has to deal with. He has a doll that is his best friend that lives with him. And this doll is so funny. He's an amazing artist. So there's an entire book, one of the books is all about how this doll is making money selling his famous artwork and then how Fred feels about that and how they're having to deal with the supply and the demand. And then there's another one where the doll's really scared because Fred brings home a tiger as his pet. Then the tiger is attacking the doll, so the doll is scared.

So it's a book that appeals to boys, it's a book that appeals to girls and the storylines are written in such a way that they're hitting the kinds of things that you would want your kids to learn about in the real world. About asking good questions before you buy some and not being taken advantage of. About making good choices with your time. About being honest. These are the things that also show up in the book. It's a very character-driven book without being religious. There's no specific religion at all mentioned in the book but it is character-based and character-driven.

There's an entire elementary series and I brought a couple of those books here. It starts with apples and each one covers just a few subjects that you would hit in elementary. And then it goes apples, butterflies, cats, dogs. I think E is elephant and you're seeing the pattern here. It's A, B, C, D, E. Those go all the way up to J and then by the time you get to upper elementary then there's a fractions book, there's a decimals and percents book.

Then you migrate your way into pre-algebra and you go all the way up. These books go all the way to calculus. And I like 'em because there's a story and the math is integrated into the story.

So you're reading a chapter, you have some math to practice at the end. How did we use this? We didn't even use it really as a "curriculum", we would sit down and read it. We would read it as part of our morning routine. We would read a math book together and my kids loved it so much they'd actually pull it off the shelf and read it on their own. Because they wanted to know what happened to Fred.

And while they're reading all about Fred, they're also reading about math. Reading about math. It's almost like this antithetical phrase and yet I love it because my kids are soaking up and absorbing mathematical concepts without the extra effort that goes into saying, "You have to sit down and do this."

We did actually work the problems together and then later on they've been re-introduced to those concepts in other ways. But I loved introducing math in this way. And the best place to actually acquire this curriculum and you can see samples and you can check it out and look at all the different options, is a place called Z Twist Books. It's the cheapest place I've ever found it and I will leave a link either up above or down below. You can check it out, see if it's the kind of thing that would be really great to have on your shelf.

I love it. I believe living math is the only way to genuinely motivate and inspire kids to fall in love with the concept of math. It works even for my kids who don't love to "do math." They still love the concept of math. And in the end, that's one of the most important things for me when it comes to our education.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I make these videos every week so that you can have a super successful and confident homeschool.

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Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Math come alive Life of Fred Curriculum Review
Make homeschool math fun Life of Fred Curriculum Review