". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Love Fred

Have you ever met Fred? In case the answer is no, here he is. Reader, Fred. Fred, Reader.

Fred is the star of the Life of Fred math series, created by Stanley Schmidt, Ph.D. We just started Life of Fred elementary math this year. Even though Evan has already had some math study, knows much of his times tables and would be ready to take on a traditional third grade math book, we are following the recommendation to start at the beginning of Life of Fred. We would not want to miss a single page of either Fred's story or the rich cultural associations that are included at every turn. In just the first book (LOF elementary math is a 10-book program), in addition to adding numbers up to 7, telling time on the hour, counting by fives and hundreds, and learning about degrees Fahrenheit, circles, ellipses, squares, rectangles, triangles, basic algebra and set theory, we have learned about--

The days of the week
Alphabetical order
How to spell February
Deciduous v. evergreen trees
The painter Domenico Fetti
The meaning of a.m. (ante meridiem)
The fact that the reindeer names "Donner and Blitzen" mean "thunder and lightning" in German
The Greek alphabet
The phrase "Noli turbare circulos meos" (Latin for "Don't mess with my circles").
Good manners
United States geography, including Kansas, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean
The Titanic
Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores
How some chess pieces move
What a Table of Contents is
The Wizard of Oz

This math curriculum is an English teacher's dream. It doesn't get much better. The math is there, sprinkled throughout the story, but it doesn't feel like math. At the end of each chapter is a "Your turn to play" box where the child/teacher review what has been presented. But it really does feel like play, not work. And the cultural literacy and life instruction are invaluable.

We are almost done with "Apples" and ready to start "Butterflies" (the names of the first ten books proceed alphabetically from "A" to "J"). The pace is about one book per month. By the end of the tenth book we will be doing decimals, exponents, fractions and prime numbers. I'm actually looking forward to it!

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