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Math Formulas

Tell Me About Life of Fred

Three Ways That Life of Fred Is Different . . .


First Way:

     Most math curricula seem to use the same approach.  They show you how to do something (such as how to factor 6xy + 8xz), and then they give you 30 problems to pound it into your head.

     In the industry, this is called drill-and-kill. 

     The student is rarely told why this procedure is supposed to be learned.  There is no motivation supplied.  Little kids often salute and obey.  They think this is just the way things are.  Often, by the time students approach puberty, they start to ask, "When will I ever use this stuff?"

    The Life of Fred series takes the opposite approach.  First of all, everything first happens in Fred's everyday life.  He needs the math, and then we do it.  Every piece of math is motivated by a need.  Even when we get to hyperbolic trig functions in fourth semester calculus, Fred will encounter three times in which he needs hyperbolic trig functions before we even mention sinh(x).

    Because Fred is fun and because we provide reasons to learn each of the things in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trig, calculus, statistics, and linear algebra, we don't have to beat the student over the head with a million problems.  Don't expect pages and pages of problems.  You have been warned.

Look at it this way:

Question #1: How many times do you have to ask your kid to clean up his/her room?  
Answer #1: A million times.

Question #2: How many times do you have to tell your child, "We're going out for pizza tonight and a movie afterwards"?
Answer #2: Once.

Second Way:

    You will often notice the transformation that occurs from "Math is my child's worst subject" to "I have trouble stopping my kid from reading Fred."

     Their attitude toward math is radically changed.

     There is a real chance that when your child heads off to the university, he or she may elect to become a mathematician rather than a ballerina or a real estate salesman.   You have been warned.

Third Way:

      These books chronicle the life of Fred.  They include happy moments, such as when Fred breaks into song, and they include sad moments, such as when Fred finds out that he can't keep 30 dogs in his office and has to return them to the animal shelter. 

     They include scary moments, such as when Fred is out jogging and encounters a giant, long-tailed, big-toothed, two-horned

monster.  Only when he passes it do we find that it's just a big green party balloon. 

the Elementary and Intermediate Series

           First, it's important that you learn Three Ways That Life of Fred Is Different.  (click here)

           As I write the elementary series, I'm imagining my readers somewhere in the 1st-4th grade group depending on their individual readiness. 

         Everyone starts with the beginning of the elementary series: Life of Fred: Apples.   There is much more in each of the books than just learning math facts.  You will miss a lot if you skip ahead.  
    These are not "kiddie books."  Your fourth grader will not be embarrassed reading them.  

       For example, here is a more extensive list of what we'll learn in the first book: Circles, Ellipses, Reading 6:00 on a Clock, 5 + ? = 7, Days of the Week, Leap Years, Spelling February, Dressing for Cold Weather, 15 Degrees Below Zero (–15º), Deciduous Trees, Deciduous Teeth, Counting by Fives, 3x + 4x = 7x, Archimedes 287 B.C. Wrote The Sand Reckoner and Got Killed Being Rude, ante meridiem (a.m.), Donner and Blitz in German, One Million, Euclid Wrote The Elements, Squares, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Whales Are Not Fish, The “There Are Zero . . .” Game, Sets, the Popularity of Zero, Why Boats Are Cheaper to Rent in the Winter, Triangles, Herbivores and Carnivores, the Colors of the Rainbow, a King in Checkmate, the Story of the Titanic, ≠ (not equal), x + 4 = 7, One Thousand, Counting by Hundreds, Reading 3:05 on a Clock, Rectangles.

And by the second book we really start to get serious: One Yard = 3 Feet, Numbers that Add  to 9, Counting by twos, Reading 5:10 on a Clock, Facts about Butterflies, Chrysalis vs. Cocoon, Braces, Parentheses and Brackets, Christina Rossetti, Sheet Music for “But Not Alone,”  Domenico Fetti’s Archimedes Thoughtful, Exclamation Points, Bad Things about Sugar, One Good Thing about Sugar, Marvin Stone’s Invention of the Paper Straw 1888, Orion’s Belt, Betelgeuse, Why Not Every Three Stars Can Make a Triangle, Collinear, Reading 5:55 on a Clock, Book Signings, Why You Can Not Walk In a Room, Deliberate vs. Inadvertent, How to Say Toenail in German, Ordinal Numbers, Yurts, Half Past Six, a Nebula is Not a Star, Light Years, the Alphabet Game, a Dozen, Perpendicular, p.m. (post meridiem), Syncope, Sheet Music for “The Crash of the Bell Tower,” Quotation Marks inside of Quotation Marks, A Baker’s Dozen, Spine of a Book, Naissance, Lie vs. Lay, Whole Numbers, Cardinal Numbers, Trillion, Quadrillion and Quintillion, Aleph-null, Kingie’s Brothers, States that Begin with the Letter M, ∞, Saying Thank You, Virgil’s Aeneid, History of Pizza, How to Set a Table. 

      Many adults are not that acquainted with many of these topics. 

      In Life of Fred: Farming, among other things, we present the commutative property of set union, the definition of function ("a rule which assigns to each member of the domain exactly one image in the codomain"), several pieces of piano sheet music, the Russell set, oxymorons, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a proof that the Universal set can not exist.

      It will be news to some adults that the Universal set can not exist.

       We are going to have some fun and learn a lot of things.               

      These early books may be read together.  The smaller reader gets to sit on the lap of the bigger person.
     Starting with the Life of Fred: Fractions book, we are looking for the student to read the material on his/her own.
When they get to Life of Fred: Linear Algebra (which follows calculus) whose lap is bigger may have changed.

        Each of the books in the elementary and intermediate series will be 128 pages.  Hardbacks—not workbooks.  One copy can be used by all the kids (and grandkids!)


       It will take about 16-21 months to complete both the Elementary and Intermediate Series.

Life of Fred: Fractions and Life of Fred: Decimals & Percents


     These two books are usually begun in about the fifth grade or later. 

     Even if you were to begin them in the seventh grade and had normal academic ability and drive, you would be into college calculus before the end of your high school years.  Click here to see a possible schedule for the Life of Fred books starting with Life of Fred: Fractions.

    Each of these books contain much more than their titles indicate.

    Life of Fred: Fractions contains more material than its title indicates.  In addition to fractions, it also explains:
     onomatopoetic words,
     Roman numerals,
     lines of symmetry,
     the commutative law,
     the definition of function,
     unit analysis,
     and Boyle's law of gases.  

the three books before Beginning Algebra


     Let's see if your child is ready for pre-algebra. 

Here are some questions from the first two books of the series (Life of Fred: Fractions and Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents).  Have your child answer these questions and we'll see where in the series is the best place to start. 

1.  Write 99 in Roman numerals.  (from Life of Fred: Fractions, p. 74)
2.  What is the square of two and five-eighths?  (LOF: F, p. 131)
3.  What is the inverse function to "multiply by six and then add twenty-four"?  (LOF: F, p. 131
4.  If a fence is 52" tall and it is made 40% higher, how tall would it be?   (LOF: Decimals and Percents, p. 137
5.  Fred had 2100 books in his office.  He lent 37% of them to students.  How many books are still in his office?  (LOF: D&P, p. 124)

Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra


     Please do not start Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra Expanded Edition without doing the three pre-algebra books first.  (Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics, Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology, and Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics.) 

     The three pre-algebra books are an essential introduction to the material of beginning algebra.

     They teach, among many other things,

  • Graphing

  • An introduction to word problems.  For example, one of the problems in a Your Turn to Play is: Let's suppose on some day Fred sold x Gourmet Gauss Dogs and made a profit of $3 per dog.  On that day he also sold x - 2 Double Dogs and made a profit of $2 per dog.  And on that day he sold x - 8 Cold Dogs and made a profit of $1 per dog.  If he made $168 on that day, how many Gourmet Gauss Dogs did he sell?  
    We are serious about learning how to do word problems.


     Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra Expanded Edition offers more material than is normally taught in a year of high school algebra.  It also chronicles five days of Fred's life when he (at age 6) is drafted by accident and sent off to an army camp in Texas.

Chapter 1       Numbers and Sets

finite and infinite sets
natural numbers, whole numbers, integers
set notation
negative numbers
the empty set

Chapter 2      The Integers

less than (<) and the number line

Chapter 3      Equations

solving equations with ratios
formulas from geometry
order of operations
consecutive numbers
rational numbers
set builder notation
distance = (rate)(time) problems
distributive property
proof that (negative) × (negative) = positive 

Chapter 4      Motion and Mixture

proof of the distributive property
price and quantity problems
mixture problems
age problems 

Chapter 5      Two Unknowns

solving two equations, two unknowns by elimination
union of sets
graphing of points
mean, mode, and median averages
graphing linear equations
graphing any equation 

Chapter 6      Exponents

solving two equations, two unknowns by graphing
solving two equations, two unknowns by substitution
xmxn, (xm)n and xm ÷ xn 
inconsistent and dependent equations
commutative laws
negative exponents

Chapter 7      Factoring

multiplying binomials
solving quadratic equations by factoring
common factors
factoring x² + bx + c
factoring a difference of squares
factoring by grouping
factoring ax² + bx + c

Chapter 8     Fractions

solving equations containing fractions
simplifying fractions
adding and subtracting fractions
multiplying and dividing fractions
complex fractions

Chapter 9     Square Roots

solving pure quadratic equations
principal square roots
Pythagorean theorem
the real numbers
the irrational numbers
cube roots and indexes
solving radical equations
rationalizing the denominator
extraneous roots

Chapter 10      Quadratic Equations

solving quadratic equations by completing the square
the quadratic formula
long division of a polynomial by a binomial

Chapter 11      Functions and Slope

definition of a function
domain, codomain, image
six definitions of slope
slope-intercept (y = mx + b) form of the line
range of a function

Chapter 12      Inequalities and Absolute Value

graphing inequalities in two dimensions
division by zero
algebraically solving linear inequalities with one unknown

A.R.T. section (quick summary of all of beginning algebra)


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