Life of Fred Math: Ideas and Activities

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life of fred

Math at my house generally brings frustration and agony to my kids and me. I usually avoid any questions on which math curriculum do you use…cause we have used most of them. Especially since each of my kids learn differently. I have to work hard not to grumble about teaching math.

A few months ago I stumbled upon an online discussion of math books and discovered Life of Fred. At my first convention I bought the first three books in the series.

After reading the Life of Fred Apples, I knew I was going to need to incorporate hands-on activities and extra practice with the concepts.

Three things that I am incorporating into each Life of Fred lesson:

  • Writing and building new concepts in his Life of Fred notebook.
  • Teaching what he learned to his friend “Woody.”
  • Retelling the story by changing the plot or the numbers to create new problems.

Since Fred talks often with his doll Kingie, I found this to be a great way for my son to teach his friend, Woody. Now Woody is going to school to learn math.

Boy does Woody have a lot of questions.Life of FredLife of Fred

I make sure to have different math manipulatives on hand to retell the story. If Fred used pencils, I may retell the story with buttons. If Fred goes for a run, we do too after the math lesson. If Fred is sleeping in a sleeping bag, we do our math lesson in a sleeping bag. Yes, if Fred cooks bacon and eggs we do too. Now something tells me this might become more challenging as we continue the series but for now it is working.

I found a nice big clock at the Dollar Tree. I have my son use his flashlight to shine on the clock and tell me the time. He turns off the flashlight and I set the clock to a new time and then he shines the light on the clock and tells me the time again.Life of Fred



The nice thing about starting the Life of Fred series with the first book is that there are still some new concepts being introduced. My son has found great humor in discussing Fred having a deciduous nose and how hard life would be without a nose. Or even how sad he is for the circle that gets squashed by an elephant and becomes an ellipse.

What have your experiences been while using Life of Fred? What ways do you have for getting math to be more then drill sheets?


This post may contain AFFILIATE LINKS. Clicking through these links help to support the costs involved in running this blog and sometimes can help with other expenses. You can find my full disclosure under the DISCLOSURE TAB. Thanks!


  1. Fabulous ideas!!! We just added Life of Fred in for summer work and I’m going to continue with it on Fridays as well. Love the reteaching idea!

  2. GREAT ideas, Stacey!! I’ve been so afraid to use LOF because I feared that it wasn’t thorough enough. I love how you’re supplementing and making it fun at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This is a great description of how you use Life of Fred! My older son worked Fractions but it just wasn’t his style, so we haven’t done any of the other higher level books. I think my 6 year old daughter might like the younger series, though – thanks for giving me some good ideas!

    • Stacey says:

      I have the fractions book for my older son, I haven’t read it yet. I got sidetracked withe the Apples book. Hoping I can keep it fun for him too.

  4. Awesome! I like your notebook pages– thanks for making them available ๐Ÿ™‚ We aren’t using Life of Fred with young kids; we’ve done a few books starting with fractions and my son will be doing beginning algebra next year. We just use plain paper. But those pages would be great to use with earlier grades. Wish we could have used Fred all along, but my son is my youngest ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Stacey says:

      Thanks. I love that the pages allow my son to practice drawing, since Fred’s drawing are humorous it helps him not worry about getting it just right.

  5. What a brilliant way to make it applicable to him! I have several friends who are using this math program and love it.

  6. Helene says:

    We are huge fans of the Life of Fred at our house. My girl started with Fractions and we have worked through half of Beginning Algebra. (You can see we came to it later). She’s a much stronger reader than user of Math meaning that the story and the word problem focus are right up her alley.

  7. Great ideas for taking it further. We’ve used LoF but more as just a supplement. The boys thought the humor in LoF was great but we had a hard time taking it and applying it. These are great ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. LOF is on my list to get this year. I think they’re great ways to spur conversations and pull real life learning into math. Thanks for these ideas!

  9. Becca says:

    We switched of LoF last year as our math curriculum. Like you, it’s made math a subject without tears now. We’ve just started Honey and it’s heavy into multiplication and division. Right now my girls just put their work into a spiral notebook, but I’ve been thinking of creating a notebook with graph paper pages to help my 9YO with neatness. Now I’m pondering how I want to add in your pages. Thanks for sharing.

    • Stacey says:

      Oh yes graph paper really helped my older son keep his multiplication columns straight.

  10. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for the notebooking pages. We’ve been reading the series, but we’re about ready to restart the elementary books and actually dig into the math. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Silvia says:

    We use LoF almost exclusively. We have been with it for two years, we are in book 7, Farming. After our failure with other curriculum, and my daughter now 8 hating math, we changed to Lof. Nowadays, she loves math, has learned a lot, even more than traditional math programs teach, and she even likes to do some worksheets from a couple of workbooks we had for free. She does from those books whatever she pleases. LoF is more complete than the traditional curricula. I don’t even feel the need to supplement, I find it very complete, though if you like to add some things and it works, that is fine.

    • Stacey says:

      I am not necessarily supplementing cause I feel FOL is lacking, I am supplementing to help my son learn. He needs to draw and have repetition to help him learn. Math is a big struggle for him and I love that he his finally grasping some math concepts. Yeah for math becoming a loved subject.

  12. Jenny says:

    I have been looking at LoF after using Singapore Math and it not going well with our oldest son. But being $ mindful, I am wanting to do something that will work with all 3 of our kiddos without doing separate programs for them all. Was thinking this morning, if we went with Math on The Level, I would be doing prep with manipulatives and using real life as our resources anyhow, so why not do LoF and save some $. Thank you so much for re-affirming my ideas :0)

  13. Stacey Lane says:

    So glad it sparked some ideas for you! I have another LOF post I need to publish. Thanks for encouraging me to keep on posting.


  14. Tara Burton says:

    I have been wanting to try out LoF for a couple years now … after REALLY struggling with Saxon this past year (didn’t even finish it!) I picked up the book Apples and altho my kids are 7 & 8 they are LOVING it! They are begging for me to read more! I think we are going to REALLY like this curriculum and I can’t wait until they can both do the books on their own. (my youngest can’t read on his own yet). Very excited to have possibly found the right curriculum for my VERY literary-minded children! Thank you for all your ideas too!

    tara ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Stacey Lane says:

      Awsome! Hope it works for you. Thanks for stopping by! I am getting ready to plan the Goldfish book.

  15. Julie says:

    My 12 year old asked me the other day if LOF could be used in the place of her current math curriculum. I told her I would look into it. Do you think LOF is sufficient to use for grades 8-12? I would love to let her do this, but am hesitant as SAT and transcript prep is looming. She loved reading LOF when she was younger and would draw Fred on her math worksheets. Currently she is finishing Teaching Textbooks Level 7. My daughter is an artist and loves to read. I really think LOF would bring some joy back into math for her, but I’m hesitant. Any advice? Thanks!

    • Stacey Lane says:

      Are you on Facebook? There is an active group there who can help you with dong LOF. I know of a few families who have used it solely and done well with placement tests. My son isn’t old enough yet for higher level books. You can always try it for a semester and see how she does.


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