Review from member andipam
Member Ranking - Extremely Positive
- Fantastic as a math supplement
- Great for visual learners
- Wonderful to read aloud and to self
- Cannot be a stand-alone math curriculum
- Cost of books can be expensive
I am very pleased with the layout of the books and the manner in which the material is presented. The short stories and graphic/drawings make LOF more engaging than other materials I've seen. My youngest is an avid reader and the older daughter is a reluctant reade (when faced with longer texts) but they both did very well (independently) with Butterflies this summer. I decided to start the 6th grader in the same book because I knew that some of the material in Ice Cream would be unfamiliar to her. LOF does a great job of teaching the lesson by continuing with the same story in the previous one (building on prior knowledge).
I will definitely order the book that's in between those two. We are using Saxon as our main Math curriculum and the LOF will be used as a warm-up activity, where they work for about 15 minutes before starting their daily lesson. LOF is also good for those days before a holiday or when traveling.
I like the fact that they published lower elementary books last year. The lessons and review are short and it doesn't take long to finish a book. I think the books are reasonably priced. All in all a fun way to learn some math skills.
Review from member heliconian
Member Ranking - Mostly Positive
My boys LOVE Life of Fred. We have been using it for years now, and both boys are interested in the story of Fred's life and find the humor amusing. We always have a supplement handy, though, in case they need a little more practice on anything. The relatively quick pace is one of the things they like about it, but sometimes it is not quite enough. For myself, I understand math much better now than I did before this curriculum, and I used to be an algebra tutor.
Whether Life of Fred can be considered completely secular is a source of debate. The characters in it are Christian, but so are the characters in Little House on the Prairie, so that doesn't bother me. What bothers me more is some of the non-math content, like biology and economics with the pre-algebra books. The biology text is completely evolution-free, which I hate, but can deal with in a math book, and the economics text is so completely biased towards conservative economic and political thought that we skipped that book entirely.
Review from member dbmamaz
Member Ranking - Mostly Positive
First, i want to be clear i have never used LOF elementary books - when they came out, they were not a level which would be useful to us.
Its very unique. I dont think I've seen any other math textbooks like this. Each book is a story about the main character, and he gets in to some adventure where he needs to use math. For example, he has a bunch of parts, and he weighs 3 gears, then removes one. He knows the weight of three and of two on a digital scale which goes to 2 decimal points, and he wants to calculate the weight of the one he removed. So, you have to subtract decimals.
At the end of each chapter there are several problems, but not many - 4-10 in the books i've been using, and at least 2 of those are review from a previous chapter or book.
Every 5 chapters or so, there is a 'bridge' (test) that you have to 'cross' (pass) in order to continue. There are 5 different versions of the bridge, so you can review the chapters and try another bridge.
My olders son's experience: not for new material, but maybe for review.
My first experience with LOF was my first year homeschooling. My older son had finished pre-algebra 1 and his teacher had told me to go ahead and start him in algebra. LOF beginning algebra seemed like a fun start, but we failed! I actually talked to the author, who said, just wait a bit, kids cant handle algebra until they have hair under their arms. Buy my new prealgebra/biology!
Well, since we were doing biology, that seemed like a good thing. My son liked that book just fine and worked through it no problem - but we tried algebra again and failed again!
I finally realized that, for that son, LOF was too 'weird'. He needed something linear and clear and plain, like a textbook. So we've been using Singapore, but we might try Beginning Algebra again, as a review.
My younger son: yes, but not alone
My younger son is silly, loves math, hates workbooks and textbooks. LOF has been a pretty good fit for him. We started with Fractions, and he was already familiar with fractions (because we use a variety of materials), but had not actually done any problems involving multiplying and dividing fractions. The first few chapters seemed slow, but the book definitely brought in new and challenging material.
Now, this child also had some issues - with the 'bridge' - Well, this kid panics for the bridges. We treat them just like another problem set and move on.
We finished fractions and moved on to decimals, but we are taking a break over the summer - he's still 8, and i'm just in no rush. We're reviewing multiplication and division over the summer using other worksheets, and playing a bit with algebra on an ipad app. We might spend some time on Challenge math also. But LOF is a good part of my wide-ranging, non-linear math program for my younger son.
- quick-moving for kids who dont like much review
- still some review in the problem sets
- many levels have additional problems in 'home companion' books
- more entertaining than most math books
- very responsive author
- inexpensive (at least the upper levels)
- Technically not secular: books are dedicated to god, and apparently some of the elementary levels have more specific mentions of god - this is less so in the upper level books
- Not linear, not detailed descriptions or examples, which can confuse some kids
- Hard to find used!
Review from member SusanC
Member Ranking - Somewhat negative
We read the first book ʺApplesʺ. None of my dc found the story enticing, the math skills were redundant for us and very focused on adding to 7. If your children thrive on getting their learning from stories, perhaps it would be a helpful supplement. There were no shipping charges from the publisher, so buying one book to try it didn't have an extra cost. However, it is non-consumable and I imagine you can find it used...
- Lots of review of the facts introduced
- Story is scattered
- Not sufficient to be a stand-alone program
Member Ranking - Mostly Positive
I picked LOF for my math-averse but precocious reader because I felt the narrative style and limited problem sets at the end of each chapter would appeal to Little Soulhammer. We are new homeschoolers (6th grade). We jumped in by beginning with the Fractions volume and are now working through Decimals and Percents. I read the chapter aloud, checking for understanding as we read, have Little Soulhammer do the problems alone, check over the answers, and talk through any corrections needed.
What I found was that my child, a product of Everyday Math in PS, needed lots of handholding to figure out how to solve the problems, which are word problems for the most part. After doing lots of review of basic math facts and lots of work on how to decode word problems, Little Soulhammer is moving along quickly. We supplement with worksheets from a cheapie workbook we got from Walmart and free websites. Used in this way ( lots of parental involvement, supplemented with some additional drill/ review), I believe LOF can be a core curriculum.
- Inexpensive ($19-29 per nonconsumable volume)
- Complements CM or relaxed homeschooling methods
- No/ little parent prep work
- Needs some supplementing to work as a math curriculum
- Some slight Christian/ conservative subtext
Review from member:valerieanne
Member Ranking - Mostly Negative
"Can you just let me do the math? This isn't funny." - eight year old's review.
We borrowed several of these books, on the glowing recommendation of another mum. She was homeschooling five, and all her children loved these books. My dd hated these books. They are silly stories, the adventures of a five year old math professor. Some kids love Fred and think he is hysterical. Mine thought he was boring.
As a home teacher, I found it a bit difficult to tease the lesson out of the storyline. Once you narrow your focus to the math concepts, I wouldn't recommend it as a stand-alone curriculum. It would be best used as an introduction to concepts, with supporting practical applications and mastery practice. There are also several references made to the bible, god and prayer. I wouldn't call it a religious curriculum, but it is very obvious that Fred is a Christian five year old math professor.Pros:
- Try it early, see if your child is interested in getting to know Fred over the years.
- If your child likes Fred, he can offer an "un-mathy" introduction to concepts.
- Expensive mistake, if your child doesn't get along well with Fred. Borrow a copy, if you can, and let your child pre-screen Fred.
- Not a stand alone curriculum. You would need to invest in other complementary curricula.
- Not truly secular.