I kept my eye out to buy Life of Fred math series for over a year. Since they come out to be pricey once you get all the books, I did not buy them right away. During the summer, through some sale, I saw them at the cheapest and scooped them up. I got all ten books in the elementary series. During major unschooling phase, it made sense to get them, especially since my back-up curriculum was Math Mammoth and a paperback Spectrum book, both of which were way cheaper than any consumable textbook.
When I got the books, the boys sat down and read them like they read literature. I don't think either one of them finished the entire series. What I do know is that neither pulled out a pencil and paper and solved any problems in the books. They giggled while reading, they told me how Fred has a pet tiger, and tidbits from the books entered here and there. After the initial read-through, the books went to collect dust on the shelf.
A few weeks ago I was planning to write a post about all these good intentions we have, and the resources we acquire, only to be pushed aside by the kids who have their own interests and agenda. Life of Fred was going to be a shining example of that elusive curriculum, obtained at a cost, used once, and discarded. Yet my kids proved me wrong again.
We are in the middle of borrowing and carrying with 7 yo. He is quite worried about it. When he has a word problem, he knows what he has to do, but when it is just columns of addition and subtraction, he gets lost and discouraged. Besides, he still confuses which number should be subtracted from which. Basically, he went back to tantrums about math. One of those days, when I was writing up a schedule, Life of Fred came up. I suggested we do that instead of his workbook, but he has to work on "Your Turn To Play". He agreed. We started in the beginning, which was quite easy. The boys knew the story line (I did not), and 9 yo flew through all assignments. 7 yo had no problem with the math component, but was unsure about writing down the names of the days of the week.
We ended up using Life of Fred just a few times, but since then, the boys pulled out the rest of books and are busy rereading them. I guess it was not such a waste of money at the end.