Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thinking about Math

It is that time of the summer again when we really should start thinking about what we will be doing for the upcoming school year. To help you with that adventure, I would like to spend a few posts introducing you to the "Life of Fred".

"Life of Fred" is an interesting, new way to approach a subject which frustrates many a mom and student...math. The author, Stan Schmidt, wrote a series of math books that revolve around the life of Fred, a five year old math genius who teaches at a university. Each book is a story telling about one day in the life of Fred. Unfortunately, it isn't until you reach Calculus that you get to find out how Fred came to be a professor at the tender age of five. I guess that is incentive for your kids to make it all the way to Calculus!

The first book in the series is Fractions. Any student who has about a 5th grade reading level and knows addition, subtraction, multiplication and division can take on the fractions book. There are 32 chapters that cover all you need to know about fractions, as well as an intro to Geometry, estimating, lines of symmetry, opposites, area and much more.

What I like about these books is the way in which the author will insert into the story great little lessons from other subject areas. For example, on page 93 the author writes,

"When the top (of the fraction) is greater than or equal to the bottom, this is called an improper fraction.*"

*Who ever uses the word improper nowadays? Our great-grandparents might have said that someone "had engaged in improper conduct", but the word is used less frequently today - although a lot of improper conduct is still going on. (Did I just prove that I'm as old as my great-grandparents?)

Just to give you a taste of the kinds of problems there are, here are some examples from the chapter on opposites. (Don't worry, throughout the book, there is ample opportunities to review previous lessons.)

6 2/5 x 6 1/4 =

Is there an opposite to "take a pizza and cook it in a 450 degree oven for an hour"?

A function is any fixed, unchanging rule. Suppose the function I'm thinking of is "multiply by six and then add twenty-four." What is the opposite? The opposite of a function is called the inverse function.

What is the inverse function to "multiply by one"?

Take a whirl at these problems and I'll have the answers for you in the next post, as well as some highlights from the Decimals and Percents book. As always, if you are interested in purchasing any of these books, just go to my page at the top of the blog that says "Life of Fred", and thanks for the support!

1 comment:

  1. We love Life of Fred. Finished the Fraction book at the end of our 5th grade year. Will probably do the next Decimal and Percents book at the end of 6th grade year.