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)



(Don't scroll past here so they don't see the answers.)




Here are the answers . . .

1.   XCIX      (not  IC)
2.   6  57/64
3.   Subtract  24 and then divide by 6.  (It is not Divide by 6 and then subtract 24.)
4.  72.8"
5.  1323 haven't been lent. 

If we encounter difficulty with these questions and can, say, get only three (60%) of them correct, then I would suggest we begin with the first two books of the series:
     Life of Fred: Fractions   and
     Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents.


     The three books before Beginning Algebra are to be studied in this order:
        Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics
        Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology
        Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics.

         Each of these take about 45 days to work through.

     Please don't skip ahead in the series.  It would just be asking for trouble.  These three books were written to make the transition from arithmetic to beginning algebra as smooth and as pleasant as possible. 
     Among other things, we place a strong emphasis on learning how to do word problems, which for many students is the most difficult part of beginning algebra.
     The books also present an alternative approach to translating from the English into the equations (called "six pretty boxes") that is not covered in the beginning algebra book.


Question: Physics? Biology?  Economics?  What are they doing in math books?

Answer: There is a tangible inner coherence among all the areas of knowledge.  To pretend that history, philosophy, mathematics, music, etc. are all in water-tight compartments is crazy.
          Of course, this is what the government school system does.  It rings a bell and kids march off to history.  Fifty minutes later a bell rings and they march off to a different room and do philosophy. 

         I teach kids.  That's my focus.  My secondary goal is to teach math.  All my books have more than just math in them.  My readers will learn lots of things.  Besides offering more mathematics in the Life of Fred series than in any other math curriculum I know of, I offered a more well-rounded education.


     The physics and the biology can each be thought of as middle-school courses in science.  There is material presented that will be new to many people who have had high school biology. (No stand is taken on Evolution—either pro or con.)

     The economics is equivalent to a high school course in economics.  The central theorem of economics (Ricardo's Law of Comparitive Advantage) is presented and proved.  No other economics book (of the 20 or so that I've read) has ever presented a proof.



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