Extra Activities for Life of Fred: Edgewood

As I wrote in a previous blog post, our family is really loving the Life of Fred math books. I spend lots of time preparing the lessons in advance so that I can give my children extra activities along with the chapters they read. I’m thankful that with a little time and effort on my part, I’ve been able to come up with lots of fun enrichment activities to go along with each chapter we’ve read so far. I decided to begin compiling all the resources I’ve found into easy-to-read blog posts that will break each book down, chapter by chapter, so that others can utilize these resources as well. Since we began with Life of Fred: Edgewood (book 5 in the 10-book elementary series), I am going to start there. (My 5-year-old will soon be starting right from the beginning with Life of Fred: Apples, so in time I should be able to have Extra Activities blog posts for every single book!) I hope you’re able to find these resources as helpful as we have!


Chapter 1: Wednesday Morning
– In this chapter we learn it is Fred’s 1855th day of life. Just for fun, we used this printable worksheet to figure out how old my daughter is in years>days>hours>minutes. (I had her do the multiplication for the first two, and for the rest we used a calculator.)
– The chapter also introduces quadrilaterals, and this fun quadrilateral recognition worksheet goes perfectly with it. (You can have your student color each of the kites corresponding with a color assigned within the word bank.)

Chapter 2: Meeting Troubles
– Right angles are discussed in this chapter, so I found this right angles identification worksheet.
– Fred encounters an announcement in the KITTENS University newspaper stating that the President of KITTENS was on a skiing trip. Using this snow theme, I decided to incorporate a little basic division practice using this ice-themed worksheet.

Chapter 3: Facing Your Fears
– In this chapter, we learn about functions (rules) and have to try and figure out the functions of a few problems. These input and output worksheets are great supplements to help identify functions.

Chapter 4: Where’s Edgewood?
– At the very beginning of the chapter, Fred mentions the lyrics “on the shores of Tripoli.” These lyrics come from the U.S. Marine Hymn. I decided that my kiddo should hear it, so I looked up the song on YouTube and here it is. Math should sometimes include music, right? 🙂
– We used our globe to look at the various places mentioned, such as Tripoli, Lybia, the Red Sea, and Scotland.
– We are introduced to the concept of median numbers (such as median income) in this chapter. I found this great worksheet for calculating medians. It’s pretty basic, and comes with an answer page!
– Lastly, there’s a question at the very end of the chapter reiterating the definition of ordinal numbers, so I found this fun and colorful ordinal vs cardinal worksheet particularly helpful!

Chapter 5: On the Bus
– I felt that this particular chapter had a lot of information to absorb and has plenty of questions to answer at the end, so I felt that the chapter alone was sufficient. I decided it was time to switch things up a little bit and have some fun instead of doing more worksheets. I found this blank bus coloring page and let my daughter get creative and decorate her own bus.

Chapter 6: Fame
– One of the problems at the end of the chapter has the student draw a bar graph showing some facts. I found this blank bar graph template to be helpful for that. (I saved the photo to my computer and then adjusted the size before printing so it was large enough to fill the paper.)
– I found a fun bar graph worksheet about the planets for my kiddo to do, since she’s all about the solar system right now.

Chapter 7: Reading on the Bus
– In this chapter, we learn about comparing number values (greater than, less than, or equal to). My daughter has been needing a refresher on basic fractions, so I found this helpful comparison worksheet generator that generates custom comparison worksheets for fractions up to twelfths and made my own worksheet. (I chose to go all the way up to eighths.)
– To make the fractions a little easier for her to visualize, I found this fraction circles blank template. I printed it out and then put it into a sheet protector so that she can draw the various fractions for comparison with a white board marker and then erase it and do it again for each of the comparison equations.

Chapter 8: Bus Stop
– This chapter is all about telling time. Naturally, a telling-time worksheet is a perfect pairing.
– For those more advanced, there also some great time-lapsed printable worksheets here and here.

Chapter 9: Into Missouri
– This is another one of those chapters I feel has plenty of work to concentrate on. One thing helpful is to use Math-U-See blocks or Cuisenaire Rods to calculate the various answers to question number 3 (“List all pairs of numbers that add to 8.”)
– My daughter enjoys the silly math poems. For a bit of fun, I found these math jokes for kids for us to read together.

Chapter 10: A View From the Bus
– This chapter introduces some pretty big concepts, such as income taxes and percentages. It also delves into addition with regrouping (a.k.a. carrying). This is something my child already knows how to do. It doesn’t hurt to have a refresher, however, so I went to education.com and printed up some addition with regrouping worksheets. (I tend to lean toward the colorful worksheets as they are less intimidating by taking the focus off all the numbers.)
– If you’d like to delve further into the concept of percentages, there are some great worksheets here.

Chapter 11: A Glass of Polka Dots
– Chapter 11 talks about polka dots and patterns. I found this simple “spot the pattern” worksheet that is simple, but still amusing.
– Play coins are every helpful for tactile learners (like my daughter). You can rearrange the “polka dots” (coins) like Fred does in the story.
– As mentioned in Chapter 9, using math blocks can be helpful in answering some of the questions.
– This chapter talks a little bit more about percentages, so the percentage worksheets I mentioned in Chapter 10 can continue to come in handy. (Note: from here on out, my child will do 2 of these worksheets a day to keep up with the concepts.)
– Here’s a great game for teaching percentages.

Chapter 12: Sharing
– Utilizing a white board or a blank piece of paper is a good idea for this chapter. When Fred mentions that “Fred” has 4 letters and “Gauss” has 5 letters, then compares it to the vending machines at the university (“4 on one side and 5 on the other”), you can draw on the whiteboard/paper and show 4 squares on one side and 5 squares on the other to represent the vending machines on either side of the hall. Then your child can write F-R-E-D and G-A-U-S-S into the squares to see a hands-on working model of 4+5=9.
– You can then help your child calculate how many letters total are in his or her own name.
– This fractions of an hour worksheet ties in perfectly with question 3 in “Your Turn to Play.”

Chapter 13: Flying
– The bar graph template I linked to back in Chapter 6 is helpful for doing problem number 5.
– For this particular chapter, I felt that drawing out the bar graph and continuing to to the worksheets I mentioned in chapter 11 was a sufficient amount of work.
– Just for fun, this YouTube video of stunt planes performing tricks is perfect for going along with this chapter.

Chapter 14: Food and Warmth
– The questions at the end of this chapter are about asking what half of a number is (e.g. what is half of 100?). Another way of looking at it is dividing the numbers by two. I found a dividing by twos worksheet to help reinforce that concept.

Chapter 15: Errors
– Part of the chapter briefly touches on constellations versus asterisms. I decided to take that a bit farther, since *I* didn’t even know what the difference between constellations and asterisms are! I looked it up here then explained it to my child. I found two dot-to-dot worksheets that show the difference. You see, an asterism is a grouping of stars that is not recognized as a constellation whereas a constellation is a larger group of stars that created a shape. I printed this connect-the-dots worksheet of Ursa Major and then this connect-the-dots worksheet of the Big Dipper so that I can point out how the Big Dipper is actually located inside of Ursa Major. (If you’re not a member of that website you can save the thumbnail and then print it 200% larger for a good sized worksheet). Here is a great photo that shows Ursa Major in its entirety so that they can see why it’s called Ursa Major. All in all, it was a fun way to tie astronomy into our math lesson!

Chapter 16: Warm
– These playing card math worksheets tie in perfectly with the math game that Fred watches the family play. (The worksheets are free with a membership to the site, which is also free.)

Chapter 17: A Family
– This chapter brings back the concept of guessing the math function, so I used this “function machine” worksheet as a little more practice.

Chapter 18: To Edgewood
– This chapter talks about median averages again, so I located another median average worksheet to go along with it.

Chapter 19: To KITTENS
– In this final chapter, there’s a brief reference to Fred paying for his flight home with eight five-dollar bills. I figured I’d take the opportunity to work on some money math. We have play money here, so I let my child use the money itself to help work through the problems in these money math worksheets.

And that’s the end of Life of Fred: Edgewood! Stay tuned for more as we work through the LOF books. 🙂

Product Review: Life of Fred

Math has always been a struggle for my eldest child. We’ve been using Math-U-See for the past couple of years. It worked pretty well in the beginning because my child is a very tactile (hands-on) learner. The math blocks were perfect for helping her visualize the problems and fully understand the whys and hows of the math she was doing. Unfortunately, after a couple of years she became very tired of the pages upon pages of worksheets. She began to become very frustrated by it and in time it turned into a battle every single time she had to do math. Consequently, she fell behind in the math department. (Fortunately, for several years we were ahead of the game, so at this point she’s really only about 6 months behind.) I finally realized that we were at a breaking point and something needed to give. We needed a new approach and a way to make things fun, stat. After many hours of research, I decided upon Life of Fred.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or in any way compensated for writing this review. I purchased the product myself and am freely choosing to review the product because of our personal success in using it.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll get on with my review! Life of Fred is a revolutionary approach to math. It’s basically an ongoing story that tells the story of Fred Gauss’ life. We started the series with Edgewood (book 5 in the 10-book elementary series.) What we have learned so far about Fred is that he’s a precocious and peculiarly small 5-year-old who is a math professor at KITTENS University. He, along with his doll and best friend Kingie, experience all sorts of adventures where they are constantly met with mathematical problems that need solving. It’s very silly and lots of fun to read! They also successfully manage to sneak math into it. My daughter LOVES it. It’s been a long time since she was last able to do math with excitement rather than tears. Wow! Unlike other math books, Life of Fred doesn’t constantly harp on one math technique until my daughter is ready to pull her hair out. It keeps moving at the pace of life, which keeps my child interested and engaged. On the practical side, I love that it’s not a consumable workbook, so it can be used over and over for all of my children. All you need is a spiral notebook and a pencil and you’re good to go!

My one and only complaint is that there are only a handful of actual enrichment problems with each chapter in the elementary series. (It is my understanding that is not the case in the more advanced books.) For some children this approach may work, but my child needs a little practice for the sake of reviews, as well as hands-on ways of applying what she’s learned. For us, extra supplementation is needed. The good news is that we have so far been able to find all the supplementation needed for free online with relatively little research on my part. It’s actually been a fun challenge for me to come up with creative ways to implement what we’ve read about in each chapter. (I will be beginning a new series shortly with links to all the FREE resources I’ve utilized as we’ve gone through the various books. I’m beginning my 5-year-old on the Life of Fred: Apples book – the first book in the elementary series – so I should be able to do a post for every single book in the series! Stay tuned! )

All in all, I must say that Life of Fred is a total WIN. It’s everything I hoped it would be, and the only drawback is an easily surmountable hurdle. For anyone who has a child struggling with math or needing a fun way of learning it, this is the resource for you!

And, just for fun, here’s a photo of Fred. 🙂

lifeoffredEnjoy your math adventures!