How we use Math-U-See with Life of Fred

This is a guest post from Leanne Seel of It contains affiliate links.

This is our 7th year using  Math-U-See in our homeschool. I like its mastery approach. My kids learn one concept completely before moving on to the next. The program is manipulative-based – the idea is that the students build the concept with the blocks, write it in the worksheets, and say it by repeating it back to the teacher.

using math-u-see and life of fred together

How we use Math-U-See

The funny thing is that even though Math-U-See is really big on manipulatives, both of my kids absolutely refuse to use them. They prefer to work through the concepts with a pencil and paper.

Each level of the program has 30 lessons. Each lesson has 6 practice worksheets (A through F) to go with it. At the start of a new lesson, my kids either watch the DVD instruction lesson included in the teacher package or I explain the concept to them. They then complete worksheet A on their own and I mark it in the evening.

The next time we do math (usually 4 times/week), they correct their errors from worksheet A and complete worksheet B. My 9-year-old son says the B day is his favourite day because it’s the easiest for him, lol. He has already learned the new concept; he’s just practicing.

For the 3rd math session on any given lesson, my kids correct errors from worksheet B and complete worksheets C&D. These worksheets include practice on the lesson concept as well as review.

For the 4th math session, they do corrections from worksheets C&D and complete worksheets E&F, which again have more practice as well as review.

The last 2 math days definitely take longer than the first two – it just means that we lighten the load on other subjects on those days to balance things out. If my children show that they really understand the concept and don’t need any more review, I will drop some of the worksheets and we move on to the next lesson and/or skip a day of math that week. If they need extra practice with some concepts, I add in some extra practice from Math-U-See’s online worksheet generator or other sources and we don’t move on to the next lesson until they are ready.
Adding in Life of Fred

The Life of Fred book series features Fred, a 5-year-old boy who is so good at math that he is a university math professor. Each book follows his adventures and teaches math concepts along the way.

We started these books about 3 years ago when my children were 8 and 6 years old. The author’s recommendation is to do only one lesson maximum each day, but because my children already knew the math part of the lessons, we read three at a time every day. If it had been up to my kids, we would have read the whole book in one sitting – they loved it that much!

Once we were past the early books in the series and they actually had to think about the answers to the questions, we slowed down to one lesson a day, and now that we’re on the Elementary Physics book, we read 1-2 lessons per week. As a side note, I am learning a ton from the physics book myself!

Using both together

I like using Life of Fred with Math-U-See because the approaches of the two programs complement each other very well. Math-U-See has lots of practice problems, drilling, and makes sure that my children master the concepts and memorize their math facts. Life of Fred shows math in everyday life and really emphasizes the application of what they are learning.

Yes, it’s true that Math-U-See has word problems and application too, but Life of Fred takes application to a whole other level and is a lot more fun.

Those who use Life of Fred as a stand-alone curriculum would say that Life of Fred has drilling and memorization in there so using a separate program for additional practice isn’t necessary. For my own teaching style, I prefer the more structured approach of Math-U-See for practice and drilling so these two programs work really well together in our homeschool.

Do you use more than one program for math? If so, which ones?

6 thoughts on “How we use Math-U-See with Life of Fred”

  1. Melinda Johnson

    interesting that you do that. I don’t feel that the Life of Fred would have enough practice, but we switched from Abeka to Math U See 4 1/2 years ago and it’s worked great! we don’t use the manipulatives much either, but they are there if needed. I just prefer Demme’s approach to understanding the why behind the problems. But, thanks for sharing that you do both!

  2. We have used Math U See for several years and I have been thinking about adding in Life of Fred. Might need to revisit that plan.

  3. Do you match up the life of fred concepts to match what is being taught in math-u-see? I’m looking to use a similar approach but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to line up the lessons.

    1. Hey Steph,
      This post was written by another homeschool mom and not me personally, so I’m not 100% sure how she managed to merge the two programs together other than explained in this post. I hope you can find a plan that will work for you. (I think they are so different in concept that trying to line them up might be hard. Just enjoying the LoF books in their own uniqueness might be worthwhile

  4. I’m planning on homeschooling next year 2020-2021. I have been researching math curriculums and was wondering if anyone used MSU and LOF so I was very appreciative of your post. They both appeal to me.

  5. I’m considering combining the two as well, WE already love math u see, but LoF would reorganize the ways they connect math to real life which I think is great. My youngest doesn’t easily make these connections so I think she will benefit from LoF, where as my oldest thinks very technically, so I think he will enjoy the entertainment.

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