The Life of Fred series was written by Stanley Schmidt, Ph.D., a retired college math professor in Reno, Nevada (formerly from Santa Rosa, California). Dr. Schmidt loves math and wants to share his enthusiasm with students. (He also published a book of prayers – he preached sermons – he wrote poems – AND he produced a TV show!)
The Life of Fred series offers a complete math education from basic addition through two years of calculus and beyond – all the way through university math. There’s also a book on logic. The Fred books are popular with homeschoolers because they are self-teaching, non-consumable, and don’t require you to buy a separate teacher’s manual, student workbook, or answer key. But there’s much more to it than that! No other math books are quite like the Life of Fred…
The Life of Fred is a unique, fun way to learn to think mathematically without having to study a boring textbook. These books teach math in the context of an amusing story about a kid named Fred Gauss. Each of the books tells part of the life of Fred and shows how he encounters the need for math and then learns the methods. Dr. Schmidt first started using his Fred character in the classroom when he became a full-time high school teacher at age 22.
Dr. Schmidt’s intent has always been to make math come alive with lots of humor, clear explanations, and silly illustrations that stick in the mind. The Fred books will appeal to kids who learn better with fun stories and weird situations to help them visualize and remember math concepts. I guess you would call it “living math,” like those “living books” that draw the reader in and present factual information as part of an engaging story. As kids read about the crazy adventures of Fred, they’ll inadvertently learn math.
The Life of Fred series is great for reluctant students who don’t like math and question why they need to study math. It will stimulate these students to consider how they can use math to deal with real-life situations. Never again will they have to ask the perennial question: “When are we ever gonna use this stuff?” In the Life of Fred books, math is presented in the context of real life. Fred shows how math is related to everything under the sun and is needed constantly to do even basic things.
Most Life of Fred lessons have ten or fewer math problems for students to work, and the student must master these before moving on to the next chapter. Some people may not feel that’s enough problems to really cement the concepts in students’ minds. But at least it won’t burn out students so that they hate doing math, and it should be plenty of math practice for students who aren’t going to major in math or science at college.
But if you really want more practice problems, Dr. Schmidt has provided Zillions of Practice Problems that you can buy separately. (And if you’re wondering how does the Life of Fred compare to Saxon Math, here’s what the author says.)
Students can jump into the Life of Fred at any age, based on the following timeline. Click on the pictures to view the book descriptions on Amazon.
Life of Fred Series
The Life of Fred elementary books can be started anytime between the first and fourth grades depending on the readiness of the reader. 10 titles (Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, Goldfish, Honey, Ice Cream and Jellybeans) make up the elementary series. They are designed to be used in alphabetical order as listed and cover grades 1-4.
The Fractions book should not be started until the fifth grade. It’s to be followed by Decimals and Percents, Elementary Physics, then Pre-Algebra 1 (includes Biology!) and Pre-Algebra 2 (includes Economics!).
Life of Fred high school mathematics starts with Beginning Algebra and moves on to Advanced Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. The algebra book can be started by student who has completed Life of Fred Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology and Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics OR a Pre-Algebra program in another curriculum.
For advanced students or someone looking to major in math at college, Fred offers Calculus, Statistics, and Linear Algebra. For students who want to learn more science, there is also Life of Fred: Chemistry.
For college students, Life of Fred includes Upper Division Math, Real Analysis, and Complex Analysis. These books offer a creative approach to higher math for the less mathematically minded. Students will end up with the same information (and more!) than traditional college texts. And the college-level books are just as fun as the rest of the series! (Dr. Schmidt says “I refuse to write a stuffy book.”) No matter what textbook your college course uses, you can get the corresponding Fred book as a supplement to help you understand the concepts better.
Life of Fred: Logic
Life of Fred: Logic is a complete logic course for high school (first 6 chapters) and college-level students (all 16 chapters). It’s full of serious mathematical logic, from the basics to advanced topics. 176 pages. Life of Fred: Logic covers the following topics:
- Sentences in logic.
- Inductive reasoning.
- Seventeen logic fallacies.
- Predicate logic.
- Proofs in predicate logic.
- Direct and indirect proofs.
- Set theory as a predicate logic structure.
- Axiom systems: consistent, complete, meaningful, independent, and recursive.
- Arithmetic model.
- Gödel numbering of symbols, sentences, and proofs.
- Proof of the Diagonal Lemma.
- Gödel’s Completeness theorem.
- Gödel’s two Incompleteness theorems and their proofs.
Unlike most other math logic programs, the Life of Fred: Logic features:
- Stinky Logic!
- The adventures of Fred!
- 99 delightful puzzles!
- Fully indexed and illustrated!
If you haven’t had the opportunity to use any Fred books for math, consider taking logic as a homeschool elective using Life of Fred: Logic and see what you’ve been missing!
Click here to view a sample lesson. (PDF opens in a new window or tab.)
The Life of Fred books are glossy laminated hardcovers with Smyth-sewn binding. They are not consumable workbooks to write in. Students write their answers on piece of paper or in a notebook. All the solutions are provided in the books. No need to buy answer keys, teachers’ editions, or anything else!