27 Apr

Life of Fred Fans Extravaganza


Are you familiar with the popular Life of Fred books? If you aren’t, it’s about time you made friends. Teaching math to your kids was never so fun as it is with Fred!

life of fred unexpected lessons

Life Of Fred is like no other math program out there. This math book series is known for weaving math concepts into exciting stories about a 5-year-old math genius. The author has tossed in valuable lessons that kids wouldn’t typically find in a math textbook.

Many of Fred’s readers will say that these books are very fun to read. But why? Here’s what one homeschooler says about the books:

“Even if the math concepts are a review, your kids will enjoy learning about the zany extras in each book. My son still enjoys saying toenail in German. That’s an additional important life skill if I say so myself. 😉” -Jamerrill S.

It’s true that the Fred books are full of unexpected lessons beyond math concepts. Here are a few of our favorite unexpected lessons from the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series.

Unexpected Lesson #1

In the Life of Fred Butterflies book, students will learn linear measurements, time, geometry, and specific numbers!

In Chapter Nineteen of Butterflies, “Mysteries of Life,” Fred and his buddy Kingie receive a pizza delivery. Kingie proceeds to chomp down his half of the pizza. (Kingie says he is so hungry because “being an artist is hard work.”) But Fred takes a moment to set the table while the pizza cools off. He shows the reader how to set a table:

Placemat goes down first.
Then the plate and the napkin.
Then the fork on top of the napkin.
Knife and spoon on the right with the knife next to the plate.
The cup above the knife.

life of fred excerpt

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One page later, your child receives practice sheets for addition and subtraction!

Unexpected Lesson #2

In the Edgewood book, students work with concurrent lines, the commutative law of addition, touch on quadrilateral shapes, and more! The topics covered in this 128-page book are parallel lines, right angles, functions, quarter of an hour, half dozen, six examples of functions, math poems, the four kinds of sentences, firearm safety, and more!

In Chapter Fourteen, “Food and Warmth,” your student reviews how to calculate half of a number, measurement of distance, counting calories in a meal, and the phases of the moon. Fred’s bus breaks down outside of town, and he is determined to run to town to get help. It is 6 p.m., and Fred does not want to run in the dark.

“Maybe there will be a full moon, Fred thought. Then there would be enough light to keep on running.”


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In the next chapter of Edgewood, Fred explains the meaning of voluntary and involuntary actions. How does he fit all of these lessons together to create a funny math story? You just have to read the book and find out!

Unexpected Lesson #3

In the Honey book, students work on fun math activities with Fred as he goes through fractions, multiplication facts, unit conversions, and more! Perhaps your child hasn’t thought about starting their own business yet, but it’s never too soon to spark the idea to become an entrepreneur. In Chapter Fourteen, “Starting a Business,” Kingie puts on his businessman hat. (Fun Fact: Kingie sells his own art.) Kingie explains the risks of starting your own business. He then goes over the “Checklist for Starting a Business” with Fred.


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At the end of the chapter, the reader is asked to check Fred’s business calculations. Will his business be profitable? Later in the book, Fred continues to follow his dream of becoming an apiarist. (Yes, the book explains what an apiarist is too!)

More about the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series:

Buyer's Guide Life of Fred Blog Post (2)

Who is it for? Kindergarten to 4th grade

Concepts covered: time, types of numbers, geometry, measurement, facts about stars, morse code, geography, adjectives & verbs, patterns, functions, sheet music, seven wonders of the world, math poems, percents, numbers vs. numerals, division, slope of a line, graphing, notation, the improper use of seat belts, how to prove you are not a duck, reducing fractions, and so much more.

Titles in this series: Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, Goldfish, Honey, Ice Cream, Jelly Beans

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22 Apr

Books for Young Readers Author Focus: Andrea Beaty

Books for Young Readers

My granddaughter is six years old.

She learned to read this year, and one of the first things I did was start looking for great books that would inspire her to continue reading. Finding great books for young readers is not as easy as it sounds! But when I discovered Andrea Beaty, I knew these would be books R would find fascinating, fun and favorite.

So who is Andrea Beaty?

In my book, she’s a genius. Her humorous picture books are filled with characters who are passionate doers. They are ever curious. Creativity positively explodes from their young minds and they are innovative and persistent in solving their unique problems.

Andrea’s books have been awarded the Friends of American Writers Award, Parents Choice Silver and Gold Medals, Bank Street College Best Books, National Association of Parenting Publications Gold medals. And now, the Prairie State Award.

Who are the characters?

IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT is a young man with an obsessive love of architecture. ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER is an inventive young lady who is amazing in her approach to building and making. ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST uses science to understand the world around her. All three of these amazing books in rhyme also have companion project books so your budding scientist, engineer or architect can pursue the passion within.

Get the books.

In full disclosure, if you click on any of these images, they will take you to Amazon where you can order the books. I will receive a small commission, but even if I didn’t, I would highly recommend Ms. Beaty’s books. They are, quite simply, brilliant.

We started out with ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER. My granddaughter loved it, and we had fun (and still do) reading it together over and over. At first, since she had just learned to read, it was a bit much for her. But now that she’s nearing her seventh birthday and has a school-year of reading under her belt, she easily reads it to her four-year-old brother.

Next we got IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT. The story revolves around a young boy who loves buildings. Unfortunately for him, his teacher does not and forbids architecture in her classroom.

ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST features a girl who uses science to explore and understand the world around her. Brilliant!

Do some projects!

Books for Young Readers

Books for Young Readers

Books for Young Readers

If you’re looking for books for young readers, start here.

These challenging books will become all-time favorites with their beautifully-rhymed words and engaging artwork by David Roberts. Encourage the visionary in your child while you share books you’ll both love.

Download a free reading log and certificate.

While you’re here, download a free reading log and certificate so your young reader can visualize the results of time spent in the pages of great books for young readers! Just click on the image.

books for young readers

books for young readers


11 Apr

Cultivating Self-Discipline in Young People


Some people seem to be endowed with superhuman willpower.

Others seem to lack it to a great degree. I’m one of those last. But it doesn’t mean that I’m relegated to the back seat when it comes to cultivating self discipline. Self-discipline is not in your genes; it is a learned behavior. And if I can master it (to some degree), so can you.

Your teenager can master it as well.

But it’s hard. That’s because when kids hit adolescence, they no longer think of themselves as children. She will almost certainly begin actively and passively resisting parental authority. She will want to choose from a broader base of experiences. She no longer recognizes her parents’ power to dictate what she must and must not do (not that they ever had real power, anyway). She realizes that without her cooperation, her parents can’t make her do some things and stop doing others.

It’s a heady feeling.

Along with the freedom she feels, she also begins to understand that she can’t manage all that freedom on her own. Most kids will return to allowing their parents to help them manage their lives and keep them on track. That’s when they really need to develop self-discipline. Parents no longer strive for control of their child; instead, they work toward consent. Although she may protest, underneath it all she knows that self-discipline is necessary. Without it, life quickly flies out of control.

Helping your child means admitting your own struggle.

Here are six things that can help (they work for me!).

  1. Admit that you struggle. Many people simply refuse to admit that they have a problem, but like in most things, admitting the problem is the first step to overcoming it. Don’t harbor the thought, “I could stop if I wanted to,” just to avoid recognizing that there is a problem to fix.
  2. Make a plan. Help your young person develop a strategy for self discipline. No one just wakes up one day with it. Whether she needs to focus on developing good habits—like reading the Bible everyday—or getting rid of bad habits—like gossiping with the neighbors—she needs to plan some action steps to make the change.
  3. Get rid of temptations. The Bible says, “Walk away from evil and do good.” Don’t leave temptations where they are easily accessed. That’s just asking for failure. If she can’t resist cookies between meals, don’t buy cookies. It only takes one minute of weakness to give into temptation.
  4. Get used to discomfort. Practice makes perfect, so they say. No one likes being uncomfortable, but self discipline is necessary to overcome the negative emotions that flood in when we are. Practice letting uncomfortable situations make her stronger, whether it’s boredom, frustrations, sadness or loneliness. She can tolerate more than you realize.
  5. Keep the long-term rewards in mind. It may really be tempting to give in, just this once, and tomorrow get back on track, but that’s defeatist thinking. Keeping a vision of the end goal in mind can help her stay on track. Visualize what the final result will be, and focus on it when temptation raises its ugly head.
  6. Don’t let mistakes sideline her. Somedays are just easier than others. Stress can cause her to lose her focus for a time. Just don’t let it replace all the hard work she’s already done. Help her pick herself up, dust herself off, and get back on the horse. Remember the long term goal and refocus.

She can do this. You can do this. There is no one who cannot benefit from cultivating self discipline, and anyone can do it. Just remember: the greatest journey began with a single step.

02 Apr

Sibling Wars: How to Negotiate Peace

Sibling Wars

Declaration of War

If you have more than one child, you will inevitably have sibling wars. In fact, when you brought Number Two home from the hospital, you entered the battlefield, because your Number One will at some point feel like you prefer the baby over her. In fact, if you were happy with her, why did you go out and get a new, younger model? Even kids who absolutely love their new brother or sister will feel doubtful about their place in the family at some point.

Sometimes clashes occur because there are personality differences. One child likes quiet and the other wants to create havoc in the house. They want different things because they are different ages, or because they are the same age. And sometimes, just like their parents, kids are just having a bad day.

Whatever the reason, war is bound to erupt and disturb your domestic tranquility.

So what’s a parent to do?

I raised five “only children,” so I’ve developed some tips that seem to work for most people. Here are my top five.

Teach peaceful communication.

Kids aren’t Chatty Cathies, preprogrammed to say the right things. When conflicts arise, so do emotions. We often try to mediate by reminding them to “use their words.” But which words? In the heat of the moment, kids just can’t call up rational language, because they are not feeling rational. So it seems like we’re always telling them what the limits are, over and over. And guess what? It eventually works!

Teaching peaceful communication takes time and repetition. Develop a script and stick to it, even when it doesn’t seem to be working. Teaching kids to interact appropriately can be a simple matter, really. Try this three-step method.

Acknowledge feelings and wants. “You wanted your sister to stop yelling at you so you hit her.”

Set limit. “No hitting. Ever. Hitting hurts.”

Offer alternative. “Tell you sister, ‘Don’t yell at me.'”

Help children stand up for themselves.

If you constantly come to their aid when arguments arise—especially if you tend to take one child’s side more often than the other—you’re simply asking for the behavior to continue. Just because one is older doesn’t mean she should have to take abuse from her younger sibling. Instead of rescuing them, teach them how to stand up for themselves.

Memaw: Liam, you seem upset. What do you need to tell your sister?

Liam: She keeps yelling at me. I don’t like that!

Memaw: Remy, Liam doesn’t like it when you yell at him. Can you stop, please? Do I need to help you find a way to speak quietly?

Allowing each child to express his or her needs and backing them up when necessary speaks volumes to them about how much you believe they are competent and can handle the situation on their own.

There’s a better way to share.

When you force sharing, you are actually perpetuation unhealthy competition. Your child learns that if she makes enough noise, she’ll get what she wants even if someone else has it. They also learn that you are in charge of things and you arbitrarily choose who gets what when, usually based on who is making the most noise. Instead, try using this technique.

When a child picks up a toy, it’s his until he chooses to put it down, or until some specified time (like meal time). He may choose to give it to his sibling, but he doesn’t have to. If he puts it down, the other child must ask, “Are you through with your turn?” Letting the children self-regulate teaches valuable lessons. They learn that everybody eventually gets a turn, even if they have to wait. They know that crying is okay, but it won’t change the rules. When they decided to share, they feel good about themselves and each other.

There’s no comparison.

Comparing siblings to each other (or to other children) is a sure-fire way to start war. “Look at how well your brother is eating his dinner” is not going to endear him to his sister. Even making positive comparisons is not a good idea. “I like the way you always remember to say please and thank you. Now if only your brother would, too!” conveys the idea that she is the “good child” and he is the “bad child.” Since kids often think in black and white terms, she will think that she is loved more because she is good and therefore has a vested interest in making sure he remains the “bad child.” Praise each child individually without comparing them to anyone else. “You are so diligent about doing your homework. I appreciate that!”

Daily thanksgiving.

If you make kindness and generosity the norm in your home, kids will learn to speak and act that way toward each other. In Louisa May Alcott’s book Little Men, Jo Marsh kept a journal where she wrote about the children on a daily basis. Keeping a journal where you write down acts of kindness or generosity from your kids makes for happy reading at the end of the day or perhaps once a week after dinner. Hearing how they both gave and received  promotes happiness and feeling good about doing good.

Love each one best.

If your daughter knows she couldn’t be better loved, she won’t be worried that you love her brother more. If he knows that he will have special time with you, he won’t be jealous when you also have special time with her. Laugh with each child, deeply and fully from the belly. Guidance instead of force will nearly always garner cooperation. Be empathetic so they feel safe sharing their emotions. Make sure they realize that love is a bottomless well. You will never run out of love because you gave so much to a sibling that there’s none left for her.

These things are great ideas for ending the sibling wars and declaring peace. No one needs to live in hostile territory!