making math meaningful for teens

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Practical Homeschool Advice

Spending time with teens to make math relevant to them now can help them build strong math competencies to achieve success later. So how can parents engage their teens in math-focused activities that both can enjoy? Here are tips to help you capture your teen’s interest and make math meaningful in many ways, through encouragement, entertainment and empowerment.


5 Fun Ways to Teach Fractions

Learning about fractions is an integral part of any middle school curriculum. Teaching these concepts can be tough, but
these fun ways to teach fractions can make the probability of learning so
much stronger! (I love Math puns.)

Click the link below to read more!


8 Free Middle School Math Activities

What makes kids “get it” is bringing math to real life. Middle schoolers aren’t thinking about balancing a checkbook or figuring out miles per gallon on their vehicle, but we can help them make those connections. Taxes are at least a few years away, and most have mastered counting back change. Understanding the practical applications for Math practice today can help
students apply their learning into adulthood.

Click the link below to read more!


How to Help Your Child Deal with Math Anxiety


Math anxiety is a negative emotional response that prevents people from being able to comprehend math or to do math problems. Essentially, it is an emotional problem. However, since it hampers a person’s ability to learn math and to solve math problems, it becomes a mental issue because people with it think they are incapable of doing math. Here are 12 tips to help conquer the fear of math in children and adults.

How to Help your Child with Math Anxiety

To Help Younger Children

  1. Do not communicate your anxiety about math. Even if math tests terrified you as a child, do not let your children know that. Emphasize to your children that math skills are important in life. When they begin working, some math may be required on the job. Even if math was difficult for you, it does not have to be difficult for your children. Many resources to help children learn math and to help them with math problems are available online.
  1. Ask children to rate themselves.  Ask children to tell you on a scale from one to 5, with 5 being the highest, how good they think they are at math. This guides you in assessing their abilities and anxiety levels about math. Even if they are not 100 percent on the mark, at least you know what they want you to think.
  1. Set Goals. Determine which math concepts hyour child knows and which ones he or she needs and wants to learn. Once your child has learned a concept, chalk that up to a mission accomplished.
  1. Apply math practically whenever possible. For instance, if you are putting a tablecloth on a table, discuss how the length and width determine the total area of it. Or, if you are at a baseball game, discuss how batting averages and ERAs are calculated.
  1. 5. Let children show their mastery to others. Once your child has learned a math skill, let him demonstrate and explain it to you, a relative or to a younger brother or sister.
  1. Let your child know that often there are no quick fixes in math. It is not uncommon for solving a math problem to take time. Also, there is usually more than one way to solve a math problem, and the solution requires multiple steps. Let your child know that there is nothing wrong with being slow and deliberate.
  1. Reward your child for math accomplishments. The reward can be something small like stickers or a slice of pizza. Acknowledgement of a job well done is what’s important.

To Help Older Children

  1. Assess the knowledge of math fundamentals. Some people stress over math because they do not have a good foundation in math basics such as multiplication, fractions, decimals and percents. The more advanced concepts in math build on math’s foundations. If your older child feels he has weak fundamentals, let him try some basic math drills online.
  1. Speak positively. Don’t let your children limit themselves by saying they are bad at math. Keep in mind that some experts who have studied math and how people learn it say that many people underestimate their ability to solve math problems. Don’t let your older children sell themselves short and fall into the trap of thinking they are bad at math.
  1. Know the psychology of learning math. Carrying negative thoughts about math hinders your ability to learn it because fear interferes with concentration, attention and memory. Know what situations trigger your math anxiety and work on replacing those negative thoughts when they first appear with positive ones. Learn to give yourself pep talks and learn techniques that will control your negative, counterproductive thoughts.

Experts who have studied how people learn math and other subjects say that people with math anxiety allow themselves to be upset by a math problem when they would never allow themselves to be upset by a problem in history, philosophy or English, for example.  Refuse to allow yourself to be upset by a math problem. If it is getting to you, just put it aside and come back to it later.

  1. Teach them math terms. Sometimes people confuse their lack of understanding math terms with not being able to solve math problems. Help your older children learn the meaning of math terms and learn to recognize math symbols.
  1. Show them how to use a variety of tools to solve a problem. This is not the nineteenth century. In addition to doing calculations on paper, in many situations, students are allowed to use calculators. So what if your child needs count on her fingers to solve a problem?!? The bottom line is that it never hurts to know more than one way to solve a problem.

Math anxiety is a tricky situation to be in. The best thing is to achieve success in math but anxiety keeps our children from doing that. Try to think positively and assess the situation to make sure your child has all the emotional and educational tools he or she needs.

How-to-Help-Your-Child- Deal-With-Math-Anxiety-Pinterest


6 Fun Activities and Games for Teaching Math


Pre-school and elementary school age children are eager to learn math skills at home with the right fun activities.  Beyond using conventional worksheets and flashcards, using math games that involve large motor skills is not only fun but will help reinfornce the math concepts you are trying to teach. Your children can jump and hop as they learn math. Young children love to move, so when you combine math and movement, you are sure to have a winner!

6 Fun Math Activities and Games

BEACH BALL MATH requires you to section off a ball into many squares with a marker. Each square houses a math problem. You toss the ball to your child, and when he/she catches it, they answer the problem under their thumb. For young children the problem can be as simple as identifying numbers or shapes, and for older children it can be a way of practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts.

MATH TOSS is a favorite game for all ages. Paint and number shapes on a large foam board. In each shape, cut a hole big enough for a small beanbag to fit through. Being sure not to cover the holes, glue or staple the board to a large cardboard box. Your child tosses a beanbag into two of the holes and either adds, subtracts or multiplies the numbers together. Younger children can just identify the numbers or shapes.  They can toss a beanbag into the even or odd numbers only.

SKIP JUMP MATH is a favorite game for young children. Using lighter colored vinyl, cut out shapes, put a number on each one with a marker, and tape them to the floor. Your child can jump from shape to shape, saying each number as they land. The children can skip count by 1’s, 2’s, 3’s,etc. They can jump in ascending or descending order. Skip jumping is a great way to introduce multiplication.  Use two feet, one foot or jump from hands to feet.

SEWING SHAPES is a great craft and math activity for when your child is ready for a rest.  Using colorful poster board, draw a (6-8”) circle, square, rectangle, triangle, and trapezoid.  If possible, encourage your child to cut them out with safety scissors.  Write the name of each shape on one side and the color name on the other side with a pencil.  Have your child trace each name and color.  Then punch holes around the perimeter of each shape about 1” apart.  Count the sides on each shape or count the holes around the perimeter.  Using a large needle and yarn, have your child sew around each shape.  If they’re ready, introduce the concept of the perimeter.  The yarn could be an inchworm moving around the perimeter of the shape.  They can measure the shapes with a small ruler and even hang them in their room.

MONEY STORE is great fun.  Let your child arrange empty food cartons or boxes to create a store.  Either you or your child can put a price tag on each one.  For young children the items may cost 1cent to 5 cents each, while older children can handle 10 cents to a few dollars.   After shopping at the store they pay you with play money.  At first, allow them to buy just one object.  When they’re ready, increase the number of items.

MATH WAR can be modified for many age and skill levels. All you need is a deck of cards (minus the picture cards). Each one flips a card over and the first one to add the exposed numbers together wins those cards. You can modify this game and have the children subtract or multiply the numbers instead. Kids who didn’t want to learn their multiplication tables suddenly want to know the answers so that they will win the game.

Use your creativity! Any of these games can be modified to fit all age groups or concepts that you are teaching (even phonics or sight words). Create your own games using the kid’s favorite activities. It could be anything from “soccer math” to “math bingo.” I hope that I have sparked your imagination, so that you will invent innovative and exciting games for your kids. Have fun! I know your kids will.6-Fun-Activities-Games-for-Teaching-Math-Pinterest

How to Use Life of Fred Math Books

How to Use Life of Fred Math Books

Life of Fred math books saved my homeschool!

That may sound dramatic but it’s true. My oldest daughter and I struggled and struggled to find the right math curriculum. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many mistakes I made in this process. Some of those mistakes were sticking to a curriculum that wasn’t working for her for two full years because everyone else said how great it was. My daughter was miserable and frustrated and I was miserable and frustrated. And, at the end of the two years, she was no further in math than when we started. By the time she was in “tenth grade” (I use that term loosely and my fellow homeschoolers know why), she was still two years behind and had 3 more years to go.

Screen-Shot-2015-10-22-at-4.04.41-PMEnter Life of Fred. I accidentally came across Life of Fred Math books in my Internet travels. The concept of teaching math as a story was fascinating to me. My daughter was an excellent reader and the first book wasn’t expensive at all, so I figured “Why not?” and bought the first book.

What happened next was nothing short of amazing. My daughter devoured the book. And, she actually found math easy! (The is where the clouds parted, the sun started shining and angels started singing) The stories were so entertaining my daughter couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter. I even handed it to my husband one night and he was reading the book and doing the math to get to the next chapter!

If you’re not familiar with Life of Fred math books, the concept is pretty simple. It’s math explained as a story. No, not “story problems” like you and I had in school. This is the story of Fred. Fred is a 5 year math genius, teaching mathematics at Kittens University; however, even though he’s smart, he is a 5 year old and has to deal with common childhood struggles like buying a bicycle, ordering a pizza and so forth. Each chapter in “Fred’s life” really addresses a particular math concept. Throughout the chapter, Fred plays with math. Math practice for students comes in at the “Your Turn to Play” sections, sprinkled throughout the chapter. At the end of each chapter there is a “bridge” to get to the next part of the story. The “bridge” is made up of 10 questions. If your child doesn’t get the required number of questions right to cross the bridge, it’s okay. There’s more bridges!


As you can imagine, we were pretty despondent, staring down 5 years of math to complete with only 3 years to complete it. Because I was concerned about her foundation in math, I started her even earlier in the series and you know what? She completed 6 years of math in just 3 years. This wasn’t because we spent hours and hours each day working through traditional math curriculum. It was because the Life of Fred series. These books are interesting, engaging, make math completely approachable and fun!

When I say “Life of Fred saved my homeschool,” I mean it. It saved my sanity, helped my daughter graduate with a solid foundation in math and gave her confidence!

With all of that said, I am more than happy to present the following buyers guide to the Life of Fred series, by Educents.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Complete Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - by

So, why are the Life of Fred books gaining popularity? The books follow Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius, during his exciting adventures which encounter every day math situations. Children actually want to read these books.

Your child can start using these books when it’s time to learn how to read, and your child can continue learning with Fred all the way to college! For a complete overview of the entire collection, check out each series of books below.

Click a title to learn more about each series in the Life of Fred collection:

Life of Fred Beginning Readers Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide

If your kiddo is just starting to learn to read, add these Life of Fred readers to your at-home library. They are fun to read over and over together. Incorporate Fred in your early reading lessons! The complete set consists of 18 books. Each book contains 32 pages.

Who is it for? Beginning readers (ages 4 and up)

Concepts covered: counting, using a compass, patience, days of the week, colors, shapes, how to make mashed potatoes, how to build a house, and more.

Titles included in the set: Blue, Bus, Lake, Potato Dreams, Ducks, Rain, Mud, Night, Dawn, House, Windows, Kitchen, Electricity, Dinner, Evening, Garden, Peach, and Going Home

Buy Now

More resources:
Fred Beginning Reader Tips Fred Beginning Reader Tips

Life of Fred Elementary Math Series

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

Life Of Fred is like no other math program out there. It’s a story that begins with book one, and continues all the way through high school. It includes every other subject, such as science, history, geography, and more. Each book contains short, 4 to 6-page chapters, and usually is less than 20 chapters per book. This makes it possible for each child to go at a pace comfortable for them.

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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More about the Elementary Math Books:

  • Life of Fred Elementary Math books are discounted on
  • “This is my first year home schooling and I wish I had found Fred earlier. My son loves to read, so Life of Fred makes math a cinch to teach now.” -Shanna, homeschooler
  • “I see a light shining bright from within my son that was almost extinguished completely. As he watched me place the order for the complete elementary set of Life Of Fred, I said ‘I can’t wait to see how Fred starts, and I want to see how it ends too, so be ready to order more!’ I smiled and assured him that not only would Fred be part of his learning as long as he desired, but that Fred would be gift wrapped for Christmas presents this year for his niece and nephew, my 2 grandchildren. No more costly potholes for this family!!” -Janet, homeschooler
  • “My granddaughter, who truly dislikes math, always wants to start the day with Fred. I have to stop her after four chapters. She would do the entire book in a day if allowed. I never thought I could use math class as a reward! And she is learning besides.” -Bette, homeschooler
  • Life of Fred Math Books in Carisa’s Homeschool
  • The Complete Guide to Using Life of Fred Homeschool Math
  • Featured on Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks
  • Samples: Apples, Butterflies, Cats

Life of Fred Intermediate Math Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

Designed for students under age 10, but already finished the Life of Fred elementary book series. Best for students who can add, subtract, and who understand multiplication and division.

Who is it for? 3rd to 7th grade

Concepts covered: Milliliters, writing numerals in checks ($4000 and not $40.00), idioms, 1/4 + 1/4 +1/4 = 3/4, elapsed time, metaphors, milligrams and pounds, rounding numbers, three-eights of 19,416, and more!

Titles in this series: Kidneys, Liver, Mineshaft

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More about the Intermediate Math Books:

  • Life of Fred Intermediate Math books are discounted on
  • “I was not so sure on these books. I heard a lot of good reviews but after we got them, just skimming through I wasn’t sure my 9 year old daughter would like them. I was WRONG! she really likes them! They move at a pace she likes and being one continuous story about Fred’s life keeps her interested and entertained. We will be back for more soon. She just finished Kidneys and is now on liver.” -Melisa W., Homeschooler
  • Samples: Kidneys, Liver, Mineshaft

Life of Fred Intro to Algebra Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

If your student can solve these equations: 5 + 8, 8 – 5, 7 times 8, 6231 divided by 93, then he or she is ready for the Fractions title. It also might be time for you to begin using a very basic calculator to complete these lessons.

Who is it for? 6th to 12th grade

Concepts covered: less than, cardinal and ordinal numbers, adding and subtraction fractions, lines of symmetry, geometric figures, circumference, reducing fractions, sets and subsets, probability, consecutive numbers, repeating decimals, area of a triangle, square roots, ordered pairs, and more!

Titles in this series: Fractions, Decimals and Percents

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More about the Intro to Algebra Books:

Life of Fred Pre-Algebra Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

Fred does physics before algebra. What’s the difference between math and physics? In this series, students use math and science to solve quirky, real world scenarios – all while having fun with Fred of course!

Who is it for? 3rd to 7th graders

Concepts covered: numerals, area of a rectangle, the speed of light, nine forms of energy, Hooke’s law, static versus kinetic friction, photosynthesis, metric system, Gregorian calendar, conversion factors, unit analysis, freedom versus liberty, steps in solving word problems, venn diagrams, germination of seeds, digestion, negative numbers, whole numbers, chromosomes, DNA, circumference of a circle, and more!

Titles in this series: Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics, Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology, and Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics

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More about the Pre-Algebra books:

Life of Fred High School Math Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

Life of Fred is preparing for college! In this series, students learn algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and a few other lessons from Fred. The Zillions of Practice books are keyed directly to the chapters and topics in the associated book. Each problem is worked out in complete detail to offer additional help for a student who may have gotten stuck along Fred’s mathematical journey.

Who is it for? 8th to 12th grade

Concepts covered: infinite numbers, ratios, graphs, plotting points, averages, multiplying polynomials, solving fractional equations, Pythagorean theorem, milkshake marketing, absolute value, surface area of a cone, imaginary numbers, slopes of perpendicular lines, complex fractions, linear equations, Cramer’s rule, ellipses, graphing in three dimensions, geometric sequences, Pascal’s Triangle, right triangles, quadrilaterals, entrepreneurship, geography of Kansas, piano music, sines, cosines, functions of two angles, a preview of calculus, and more!!

Titles included in the series: Beginning Algebra, Zillions of Practice Problems for Beginning Algebra, Advanced Algebra, Zillions of Practice Problems for Advanced Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry

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More about the High School Math books:

Life of Fred High School Language Arts Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

Each book contains 19 cohesive lessons on grammar, language, writing, common mistakes, and basically the entire English language. The creator suggests doing these four books once every year during your students’ high school years.

Who is it for? 5th to 12th graders

Concepts covered: the seven parts of speech, punctuation, spelling, similes, silent letters, rules for making outlines, the difference between a metaphor and metonymy, and so much more.

Titles included in the series: Australia, Begin Teaching, Classes, Dreams

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More about the Language Arts books:

Life of Fred Chemistry

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

In a single lecture hour, Fred completes a whole year of high school chemistry.

Who is it for? 8th grade to college

Concepts covered: exponents, atoms, conversion factors, mass vs. weight, Avogadro’s number, Kelvin scale, atomic number, isotopes, compounds, noble gasses, finding the atomic mass, early chemistry, oxidation numbers, balancing equation, and more!

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More about the Chemistry book:

  • Life of Fred Chemistry book is discounted on
  • “It’s solid science presented in a way that’s understandable, not intimidating, and fun. You learn math, you learn history and you learn science, all through the Life of Fred – through his experiences and teachings.” -Lisa, Homeschooler
  • “It reads like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but the chemistry is solid.” -Lisa’s husband, PhD in Analytical Chemistry
  • Sample of the Chemistry Book

Life of Fred College Math Series

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

This series is geared toward advanced high school math students, students preparing for college, or any adult who wants to brush up on their math skills while reading fun stories. Students will learn calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and advanced math puzzles (equations, not word problems).

Who is it for? 9th grade to adults

Concepts covered: functions, speed, slope, curvature, polar coordinates, Bayes’ Theorem, probability, descriptive statistics, field guides, solving systems of equations, vector spaces, linear functionals, math theory, abstract arithmetic, and more!

Titles included in the series: Calculus, Statistics, Linear Algebra, and Five Days of Upper Division Math

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More about the College Math books:

Life of Fred Financial Choices

Life of Fred Buyer's Guide - Educents

Let Fred help you teach your children about financial management, decisions, and choices. It’s very likely that you, the adult, will pick up a tip or two while teaching.

Who is it for? Useful for middle school kids all the way to adults

Concepts covered: entrepreneurship, spending, investing, retirement, debt, calculating interest, how to start a business, insurance, taxes, real estate, successful spending habits, stocks, mortgages, REITS, mutual funds, and more!

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More about the Financial Choices book:


Free Minions Math Printables

This blog post is brought to you by Educents.  If you haven’t check them out – do so now!  They offer great deals on all sort of things like:

What makes you happy? Minions? Freebies? Well, how about Minion Freebies?

Minion Freebie - Educents 3

These free math activities on Educents offers 22 printable pages of math activities for Minion fans. It covers addition, subtraction, measurement, money, and more!

Minion Math Centers Freebie

  • Minion Addition (to 12)
  • Minion Subtraction (to 12)
  • Minions Making Ten
  • Minion Measurement
  • Minion Money Match
  • Missing Minion Numbers
  • Minion Number Cards

Minion Freebie - Educents 2

If you’re looking for more ways to make math learning fun, check this out:

Early Math Musical DVDs

4dde_c6ab3b8_Early_Math_Collection copy

This DVD set from Rock ‘N’ Learn is a fun way to boost math skills for the early grades. Like the Minions, these DVDs have fun characters your little ones will love to get to know! Math facts are easy to learn with fun music and exciting animation. Learn all about counting coins and bills and practice making change. Kids will learn to tell time to the hour, half hour, and minute using traditional analog clocks. Includes Addition & Subtraction Rap DVD, Money & Making Change DVD, and the Telling Time DVD.

I hope this math freebie made by Amy of Teaching in Blue Jeans makes you happy. Download the Free Minion Math Centers, then go ahead and do a little dance! 🙂


10 Fun Activities for Teaching Math


Find the perfect math activity idea for you and your young learners. With these fun match activities for kids, you can establish basic math foundation in math at an early age.

Numbers can become your kid’s best friend. And we’re sharing with you here some engaging ways to get you and your kids started.

octopus math


Number recognition

Man Number Recognition

Muffin Tin Counting

Muffin Tin Counting

race to lose a tooth

Race to Lose a Tooth Counting Game

watermelon seeds

Counting Fun with Watermelon Seeds

ways to make 10

10 Ways to Make a 10

10 more 10 less

Number Grids

 hidden shapeHundreds Chart Coloring Activity

meet the shapes

Meet the Shapes

math games with circles

Games with Circles



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