Homeschool Living Maths – Life of Fred: Cats

Learning Maths with Life of Fred: Cats

The more I do Life of Fred, the more confident I am about it working as an exclusive way to teach maths. The girls really enjoy maths, and I can see it working in ways that I didn’t with the older ones. We have just finished Life of Fred: Cats, book three in a ten book series of elementary maths, based on a little boy named Fred (you can buy these in the UK here). As you can tell, we are working our way through these books at a snail’s pace 🙂

The first thing I did was try to find some targeted work sheets for Life of Fred: Butterflies, the book before Cats.  I couldn’t really find any which I liked so I made my own!

Life of Fred: Cats

Life of Fred: Cats

Life of Fred: Cats

Life of Fred: Cats

These were a great way to make sure the girls were fully understanding and remembering everything they had learnt from the preceding books.  I have written a post about the Life of Fred Butterflies Review Booklet.  And you can download them using the link below:

Life of Fred Butterflies Review Booklet

As I go through these books, I can see there is lots of repetition.  For my sanity and the brevity of this post, I shall only be sharing things we did that were new.  For everything else, take a look at the posts which have come before.

Life of Fred: Cats – Tortilla Fractions

We have covered fractions before in Life of Fred: Butterflies, using our home-made fraction set to learn about equivalent fractions, writing fractions and making fractions.  This term, I wanted to show them how to find fractions in a clock, and link together the idea of a quarter (fraction) and a quarter past (time); a half (fraction) and half past (time).  We did this by using a tortilla as the clock face, and (rather badly) drawing in icing pen the numbers around the clock:

Life of Fred: Cats

Life of Fred: Cats

The girls then cut them down the middle using a pizza cutter, in half, starting from twelve and ending up  where the big hand would be to show half past:

Life of Fred: Cats

Life of Fred: Cats

They then cut the clock into quarters, by cutting it in half once more, from numeral nine and finishing at three, where the big hand would show quarter past:

Life of Fred: Cats

Life of Fred: Cats

This was a great way of illustrating that fractions and fractional language are everywhere.  Maths is everywhere!

Life of Fred: Garibaldi Biscuit Fractions

Because we had already done a bit of work with fractions in the last book, I wanted to see how much they had retained, especially with regards to equivalent fractions.  I used some Garibaldi biscuits, which I cut to make square.  Each of the girls had a handful of square biscuits, a piece of card, and a blunt knife:

Each girl created a square out of four of the biscuits (as shown above).  I asked them to create two halves:

Next, I asked them to create four quarters:

Of course, this was easypeasy!  I then asked them to split the large square into eighths.  This was slightly harder but they were able to do it with ease, figuring out very quickly that they needed to cut the smaller squares in half:

They easily found one eighth:

Lastly, I asked them to divide the large square into sixteenths.  Again, this was no problem for either of the girls:

Luckily, we had covered equivalent fractions before, as the girls raced through each question I gave them, answering them easily.  How many eighths were in one quarter?  2/8=1/4

How many eighths were in one halve?  How many sixteenths made up three quarters…..and so on.  The girls did a great job and had internalised all we had learnt.  Job done!  So they ate the biscuits 🙂

Life of Fred: Cats – Introducing Angles

The girls already are very competent at finding right angles, having covered that thoroughly in Life of Fred: Butterflies.  We did a quick bit of revision with some work pages and then jumped in a bit deeper to angles other than right angles.  The girls drew some shapes into their notebooks and found all the right angles from each shape:

I then pulled out the set of fractional pieces I had made from card last term:

Using these fractional pieces, I grabbed our cardboard clock and the girls played about with fitting the fractional pieces into the clock.  Handily, this linked nicely back to the previous exercise with the tortilla clock 🙂

From this the girls could see that two quarters made a half; four quarters made a whole; two halves made a whole; two eighths made a quarter and so on and so forth….

Next, I wanted to introduce them to actual angle measurements.  Firstly, the girls played around with the angle measurement kit.  After they were comfortable with how it worked, They each took a segment with a right angle and tried to figure out what measurement in degrees a right angle is:

Once they understood and had measured the right angle segment to 90 degrees, I let them lose on all the other fractional pieces:


Both girls really enjoyed learning this new skill and every time they see the measuring set, they beg to have another go at it 🙂

Life of Fred: Cats – Odds and Evens

I couldn’t remember ever teaching the girls about odd and even numbers, so I included a little activity just in case they needed a bit of time understanding them.  They didn’t and easily divided the numbers into odd and even number sets (a useful revision of sets):

I obviously had taught them before 😉

Life of Fred: Cats – Area and Perimeter

We  had lots of fun learning about perimeter.  I have always taught my children that a perimeter is something you preamble around…..and then they do just that around our garden with our trundle wheel:

(try and ignore the fact that B7 is wearing A9’s trainers, whilst A9 is wearing one of her B7’s shoes and a flip flop belonging to who knows who?!)

Once you’ve done that, you never ever forget that perimeter is the measurement around something 😉

The girls created a maths page as a reminder.  And did a few easy questions I grabbed off the net.  We then did a ‘Create a Dog Yard‘ area and perimeter activity.  This was a great way to solidify their learning:

A second, very good, not to mention free activity was the Island Conquer Area and Perimeter Game:

Life of Fred: Cats – Boxable Numbers

Fred coins the term ‘boxable numbers’, to mean numbers which can be arranged into a square or a rectangle.  What he was actually referring to was square numbers or rectangular numbers.  The girls played around with some biscuits I’d made square just for this purpose, discovering for themselves which numbers could be arranged into a box:

they came up with lineable numbers (another term created by Fred):

The girls quickly worked out that any numbers which did not form a ‘box’ (square or rectangle), such as five and seven….

would, if placed one next to the other, form a line.  Having learnt about prime numbers in their Maths Quest book, they were familiar enough (or at least one of them were) to realise that ‘non-boxable’ numbers were in fact prime numbers!

Anyway, on with the playing about with biscuits very important maths enquiry: they found that all square numbers are boxable.  I asked them to look for patterns and was so pleased when they observed the following.  Taking one as the first square number, they worked out that the second square number (four) was two units by two units:

The third square number (nine) was made up of three units by three units:

When I asked what they thought the fourth square number was, they correctly surmised that it would be four units by four units which would make the answer sixteen:

They had discovered, all by themselves, the method of working out the nth square number:

nth square number = n X n    For example the tenth square number would be ten multiplied by ten which makes one hundred: 10th square number = 10 X 10 = 100

How cool is that?

They also discovered the rectangular numbers of six:


and twelve:

I created some note pages just to check whether they had understood.  Once the girls had completed them, they stuck them in their note books:

These note pages can be downloaded for free below:

Boxable Numbers

Do follow my Pinterest board for lots of ideas for fun, living maths:


  1. Thankyou for sharing your maths blog, my 12 yr old sticks her heels in when it comes to anything that remotely resembles a maths lesson , ( or anything to do with maths even if I try and make it look not like maths ) But, she loves reading , so I’ve just ordered the life of fred for 12 and under .

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