Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Math: Life of Fred and more

This is the first year I am actually going to be in a place where we can take most of December off from formal lessons (with the exception of math) and spend the month preparing for Christmas.  The girls have worked diligently this fall on their bookwork and I am using this time to summarize their accomplishments.  It helps me focus on what they have done and how to incorporate it into a transcript.  
I was asked if the girls, specifically Grace, is going back to school. The honest answer is that we don’t know.  IF she chooses to stay on this path to pursue meteorology as a college major then we know exactly what high school classes she will have to take.  She will carry a full load of lab sciences and difficult math courses.  We have three options for her:  1) explore a home-based traditional curriculum like Oak Meadow.  2) attend traditional high school or 3) explore taking math/science classes at a community college which will give her college credit for some of the classes she takes but will not provide her the ancillary sports and activities that a high school would.  BUT community college would allow her to listen to her sleep cycle, intern at WSCU, keep time with her friends, plan her own schedule, etc.  Grace is in 7th grade.  I am compiling this information now so that next year when we attend open houses for various high school programs she will have the information she needs to attend the school that will best fit her needs.  Whether that is her current “school”, our home, or someplace else remains to be seen!
Lilah has completed books 1 - 3 of Life of Fred Elementary Series.  We love these books.  After spending two years struggling with the “I hate math” comments, tears and frustration, math is now a time of togetherness and...dare I say....fun!  Life of Fred may not be a curriculum that is for everyone, although I think everyone can benefit from it in some way.  It is not a traditional text book.  There are not pages and pages of practice problems to do.  There are no tests.  

Instead you have this quirky little character, Fred, who is silly and strange.  His story is told in a narrative.  Through this narrative all sorts of math concepts are interwoven.  Lilah has solidified her ability to tell time on a non-digital clock.  This has been a true struggle for her.  She has gained an understanding of what a set means and how letters like x and y can be used as place holders like in the equation 3 + x = 11. She learned what a cardinal and an ordinal number is.  She learned how to correctly read and write very large numbers.  She has learned about angles: right, obtuse and acute.  This may seem very basic, but before LOF these basic building blocks of her mathematical foundation were missing.  I have no idea how her classroom teachers in first and second grade (or even myself) never picked up on this.    Best of all, she has learned this information in a way that it has become a part of her.  We snuggle together.  She reads. I giggle.  Grace often sneaks in and listens too.  She keeps her work in a three ring binder which is filling up quickly.

Not only is her math binder filling up with her practice problems, LOF inspires Lilah to research topics which come up in the book.  When Fred found a lost kitty that turned out to be a lost tiger cub, she was compelled to research obligate carnivores.  When Fred gazed up at the stars and taught us about Orion’s belt and the Big Dipper, this led to an investigation of the constellations, and to the Alaskan State Flag, which led to a study of the Connecticut State Flag.

LOF assumes that the child and parent/teacher are going to work on memorization.  The first three books focus on the addition/subtraction facts and in book 4 we are moving into multiplication facts.  There is not enough practice work in the books to think that a child will learn the facts simply by working in the textbook.  But the concepts are taught in a way that the facts now make sense.  Lilah loves the game Timez Attack and spent 30 minutes playing it to review her facts in preparation for Book 4.
I am so glad I started this series in September at book 1.  Finding this, thanks to fellow blogger, Joan @ Our School at Home, has been such a blessing.  We will do all 10 elementary books this year.  LOF also has books on decimals, fractions, even calculus!  Lilah’s math binder will continue to grow as Fred’s mis-adventures at Kittens University provide us with more learning, more laughter, and more math fun.  


Rosemarie said...

We are still working through ours. I had hoped Will would be done with book 3 by the end of the year, but with our move we got a little behind. We are just about to finish up book 2. We could do 3 during December but with all the holiday stuff, not sure if it will actually happen. He thinks Fred is a bit weird but then at dinner will tell his Father all about it. So they are something that is sticking.

Joan Concilio Otto said...

HA! I clicked this link in my feed thinking, "Oh, I'm so glad her family has fallen in love with Fred now," and then I saw my shout-out :)

You made my day. And so did the obligate carnivore. Also, you will appreciate this. I was sitting in a waiting room the other day. A waiting room with a vending machine. Without missing a beat, in my head, I thought, "4 on one side... 5 on the other." I went over and told my daughter and we both cracked up. The people waiting with us thought we were NUTS! :)

Tom/Tabitha said...

I LOVE Life of Fred and have written several reviews that I need to update continually as new books come out. My children have also done so much using Fred as a starting point, especially my 7 year old.

Jessica said...

I could just let Lilah run with it and have her finish a book every two weeks but I really like taking the time to sit with her and listen to her read and encourage her to explore some of the additional topics that come up. That takes time. Our goal is to finish the 10 elementary books before summer. She just started book 4 so I think that is a reasonable goal.

Enjoy your holidays and this time of rest and reflection.

Jessica said...

I shared this story with Lilah and we had a giggle! It is funny how that little 3foot character creeps his way into your life. We find so many things throughout the day to talk about......

Jessica said...

I am going to check out your reviews of the upper level books. I have LOF Fractions which I tried to use with my older daughter when she first came out of school but she was not ready for a change of that magnitude. I hope to use these books for a long time!

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