# Life of Fred Archives - Eva Varga

## How Imaginary Numbers Led Us to Dual Enrollment

November 29, 20161

Over the past couple of years, Geneva has been struggling with math, a subject she has always enjoyed. She was working through Advanced Algebra with Life of Fred and despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t help her when she got stuck.

To be honest, I don’t recall ever learning about imaginary numbers and I just couldn’t grasp it. I was frustrated and she began to lose her confidence.

An imaginary number is a complex number that can be written as a real number multiplied by the imaginary unit i, which is defined by its property i2 = −1. The square of an imaginary number bi is −b2. For example, 5i is an imaginary number, and its square is −25.

Can you explain this in simple terms? Fortunately, we discovered Mr. D Math in the spring and through his weekly instruction, her confidence and enthusiasm were restored.

As the new school year approached we contemplated continuing with Mr. D but when her girlfriend shared that she would begin dual enrollment coursework at the local community college, Geneva opted to do the same. She thereby took the math placement exam in August with no preparation whatsoever and even taking the summer off (our first “true” summer vacation).

She placed into Algebra 1 (Math 60) – just where I would have predicted based on what I knew of her skills. The way the course was designed, she would be working with a software program called ALEKS at her own pace. Her instructor informed her that if she completed the coursework and passed the final exam by midterm, she could then begin the next class, Algebra 2 (Math 65).

At the close of the term, she will have finished two consecutive math courses. Delightfully, as she completed them both within the 10-week term, we will only have to pay for one and yet both will appear on her transcript.

Our dual enrollment experience has {thus far} been very successful. Join me again on Saturday when I share a peak into our 4-year high school forecasting.

## STEAM into September with These Great Products

September 2, 2016

Many educators are familiar with STEM, the acronym for the fields of study in the categories of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The initiative has recently began to include arts and design, changing the familiar STEM to STEAM. And, it seems to be gaining steam. 🙂

It is almost Labor Day and for many, that means bargains and discounts on clothing and back-to-school supplies. I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite STEAM resources, available at a discount from Educents

# S is for Science

### Magic School Bus Science Club

If you have children (ages 5-12) who enjoy the Magic School Bus books or videos–and if you like doing science experiments with them–then you’ll LOVE The Magic School Bus Science Club!

Developed by a team of Harvard graduates, scientists, and educators, the award-winning Magic School Bus Science Kits are delivered monthly right to your doorstep. Children will explore science through experiments that will spark an interest and curiosity in science.

Each kit includes a colorful manual based on The Magic School Bus characters, as well as everything you need to complete at least seven experiments related to that month’s theme.

### One Minute Mysteries Book Set

These award-winning books make math and science fun. Each mystery features real world scenarios and takes just one minute to read. The brain teasers challenge kids to use critical thinking skills. Perfect for a long car trip or quick errands. Written for ages 8-14.

# T is for Technology

### Learn to Mod with Minecraft

The Minecraft world gets kids excited to build their own creations. There are many classes available today designed to teach kids coding skills utilizing Minecraft. What I like about this one is that it is affordable, under \$30! If this one’s not right for your family, I highly recommend other Learn to Mod programs – or just google “Minecraft Coding” and dive in!

# E is for Engineering

### Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst Kit

This beautiful set gets kids using their hands, creating a bevy of tinker toys from different challenge cards. The sky’s the limit with this set that encourages design thinking that’s so important in the work force. But the best part is this is just fun.

# A is for Art

The Manga Guides to Science & Math
Come learn about many science and math subjects through a comic book. With fifteen cartoon guides to choose from, these are perfect for teens who love manga and are interested in learning about complex topics like biochemistry, molecular biology, and linear algebra.

# M is for Math

### Life of Fred Math Curriculum

I can’t speak highly enough of this series of narrative-based math books. Kids learning addition to young adults in college benefit from one character’s journey through life encountering contextual math problems that make math make sense!

Use code LASTCHANCE for 10% Off + FREE SHIPPING on any order. No minimum, one time use code. Sale ENDS September 5th at 11:59pm PST. This is the LAST WEEKEND of free shipping so don’t miss out!

## Life of Fred: Math Curricula for Middle & High School

August 4, 2016

As a homeschool parent, I want to challenge my children. I want to provide them with opportunities not available to students in brick-and-mortar schools. I spent a lot of time researching and seeking out course work and math curricula that was engaging and challenging.

Years ago, a homeschool colleague shared with me that her 14 year old daughter had taken the college placement exam and had enrolled in Math 111. I immediately wanted to know what math curricula she had used. “Life of Fred,” she replied. “Chloe worked through the Pre-Algebra series and Beginning Algebra on her own.”

###### Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which generate commissions when you purchase through that link.

Each Life of Fred text is written in the style of a novel with a humorous story line. This was very appealing to my oldest, an avid reader. Each section tells part of the life of Fred Gauss,  a five year old who teaches math at KITTENS University in Kansas.  The story shares how, in the course of his life, Fred encounters the need for the math and then learns the methods.

As she progressed through the books, she gradually transitioned away from direct instruction whereby I was teaching concepts to her and began to rely more on her own reading. She became an independent learner.

Never again hear the question which many math students proclaim: “When are we ever gonna use this stuff?” or “Math is boring!”

Life of Fred makes this possible not only through story but with tons of solved examples. Each hardcover textbook contains ALL of the material – more than most instructors cover in traditional classroom settings.

We meet with Fred daily and have really enjoyed his adventures. I thought I’d share our experience with Life of Fred since people often have a lot of questions about it.

## What I Love About Life of Fred Math Curricula

I love the story nature of the text and real life problem approach. Fred encounters a need for the math and then uses it, usually within the context of a humorous situation.

It encourages a different approach to attacking a problem. Students are encouraged to think.

Less drill and more complex problems. This lessens boredom and fatigue and leads to increased accuracy.

The texts are non-consumable; I can use them with both kids. I’ve never been a fan of workbooks; I love that they work out the problems on ordinary notebook paper.

The cost is budget friendly. The middle school texts are just \$17 and the high school texts start at just \$28 at Educents. You can’t go wrong even if you just wanted to try it out.

## Life of Fred Math Curricula for Middle School

My kiddos had completed the Singapore Math curricula series for elementary and middle school, so this is where we actually started. They were immediately hooked on Fred’s story and have loved to read about his humorous antics.

Once you know:

• the subtraction tables
• the multiplication tables
• long division

… you are ready to start Life of Fred Fractions, the first book in the Pre-Algebra series.

Who is it for? 5th – 9th grades

Concepts covered: Savings and Expenses, Sectors, Comparing & Reducing Fractions, Roman Numerals, Least Common Multiples, Improper Fractions, Commutative Law, Decimals, Functions and Inverse Functions, Pi, Sets and Subsets, Union and Intersection of Sets, Rules of Divisibility, Bar Graphs & Pie Charts, Prime and Composite Numbers, Consecutive Numbers, the Goldbach Conjecture, Conversion between Percents/ Fractions/ Decimals, Square Roots, Ratio, Ordered Pairs, Negative Numbers, Elapsed Time, Probability, and more!

Titles in this series:  Fractions, Decimals & Percents, Pre-Algebra with Physics, Pre-Algebra with Biology, Pre-Algebra with Economics

## Life of Fred Math Curricula for High School

My kiddos were already familiar with Fred’s style and approach to problem solving as they had previously completed the Pre-Algebra series.  They loved that they weren’t required to do a bunch of drill-and-kill problems. When they struggled with a concept, they simply re-read the chapter.

My daughter is currently using the Advanced Algebra text. When she was about mid-way through the text, she actually made the decision herself to begin it again. We had been doing a lot of traveling and she hadn’t been going through the lessons regularly. Repeating the textbook helped to clarify the concepts that were previously foggy for her or that she didn’t recall from earlier readings.

If you …

• have finished the Life of Fred Pre-Algebra books
• have used another algebra program
• have used Saxon Math Algebra 1 and/or 2

… you are ready to start the first book in the high school series, Beginning Algebra.

Concepts covered: Division by Zero, Venn Diagrams, Cramer’s Rule, Inequalities, Imaginary Numbers, Variation, Laws of Exponents, Four-dimensional Geometry, Non-Euclidean Geometry, Sines, Cosines and Tangents, Conditional Trig Equations, Functions of Two Angles, and much more!

Titles in this series:  Zillions of Practice Problems: Beginning Algebra

## Ten Educational Resources for Your Teens

July 5, 2016

We homeschool year round and our new school year has just begun. This year marks a huge transition in our home with one child entering junior high and another entering high school. Though we are not beginning new educational resources or curriculum until August, July provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what resources we have enjoyed, what courses we will be taking in the coming school year, and what resources we want to purchase.

We are excited for this new school year. With both kiddos increasingly independent in their studies, I trust we’ll be learning a wide variety of skills and material. Below are a few of our tried-and-true favorite educational resources and a couple we look forward to adding to our curriculum.

## Educational Resources for Teens

If your child is interested in Minecraft, architecture, languages, or you name it … you can transform your child’s interests into a fun lesson. Keep scrolling to check out what’s new and what’s popular.

### What’s new?

3D Animation Course – My son is passionate about Minecraft and is intrigued by the 3D character animation concepts in this year-long online course where he learns to create animated short movies using his favorite Minecraft characters. How cool is that!?

Mixing with the Masters: A New Twist on the Old Masterpieces – My daughter and I just love Alisha’s style and are delighted to learn about the masters through her mixed media art workshop. Mixing with the Masters is the first of several volumes that will be released over the course of this year and the next.

Beginning Architecture Course – Frank Lloyd Wright never had it this good! This three-part series of Beginning Architecture online course is the perfect gift for young Lego and Minecraft enthusiasts like my son.

North Star Geography Online Class – We absolutely LOVE the geography curriculum by Tyler Hogan. Now North Star Geography is offered as an ebook and audiobook, automatic grading of each lesson’s quiz & mapwork, and a direct helpline with the author. Perfect for an on-the-go family like us!

### What’s popular?

Learn to Code with Minecraft – One of my son’s favorite things to do is to modify the Minecraft game with special mods. With this year-long online course, kids learn Java programming skills to code their own Minecraft mod from start to finish. They will delight in watching when their work results in a unique, shareable Minecraft mod that they built from scratch.

Life of Fred High School Math Books – Say good-bye to drill and kill exercises. We’ve been using Fred since middle school and my kids love the approach. Instead of nothing but dry exposition and endless drill exercises, they contain fun stories about Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius.

Online Language Program  My daughter loves languages and has set out to add Italian to her repertoire. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to include foreign language into your next year curriculum. Choose from Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian or ESL English Videos, songs, and games help learners become bilingual or trilingual FAST!

Tegu Blocks – I don’t know about your kids but mine still enjoy playing with blocks from time to time, especially when they are watching their young nieces and nephews. Tegu Blocks are magnetic wooden blocks and are just the right size for on-the-go fun. If your teen is an entrepreneur who enjoys babysitting, Tegu Blocks are a fabulous addition to his “bag of tricks”.

The Ultimate Middle School Digital Resource – The Ultimate Middle School Package provides you with 24 comprehensive educational resources for Sixth through Eighth Grade in the areas of Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies! Includes both the Student and Teacher’s Edition!