Beast Academy Review

Are you looking for a fun way to interest your child in Math?  If so, then Beast Academy, a new elementary math program from Art of Problem Solving, Inc., may be for you.

Beast Academy 3A, 3B, and 3C Guide and Practice books.

Written in an engaging graphic novel format, the Beast Academy 3A, 3B, and 3C Guides follow friendly monsters as they learn about Math and participate in competitions.  Here is an example of an excellent Guide page.

A Venn diagram showing the relationship between some shapes.
A Venn diagram showing the relationship between some shapes.

Each Guide has a corresponding Practice book containing the written work.  The Practice book pages are in black and white, which I like since it is less distracting for a student.  Here is a sample page from 3C.

A Practice page from 3C demonstrating the subject of Variables by showing illustrations of balancing scales.

The first page of each chapter in the Practice book contains a helpful sequence for the Guide and Practice book.

The sequence for Guide and Practice.

The problems usually start out simple so the concept can be digested gradually, but can then become more challenging.  The challenging problems are usually marked with a star.  For these there are hints in the back of the Practice book, but students are encouraged to attempt the problems for awhile before looking at the hint.

Hints section in the back of the Practice book.

All Practice books contain an impressive solutions section which sometimes gives two different ways to solve a problem!  Many parents will find this valuable, and some students will appreciate that there can be more than one right way to answer a question.

Solutions section located in the back of the Practice books.

My son has completed books 3A, 3B, and is currently working through 3C.  One of the things I like about these books is the way students are guided to think more creatively about how to approach a novel problem.  The monsters work together and point out clever ways to approach problem solving.  Examples of this are in the below photo on skip counting.  The student is able to see that doing so can make a seemingly difficult task easier.

From Guide 3A, the monsters are coming up with creative ways to skip count.

The books are also helpful for visual learners or anyone who may benefit from having a visual aid when a new idea is introduced.  The little monsters often refer to things a child may be familiar with – for example, letters and houses to teach angles – making the concept easier for her to learn and remember.

Monsters using letters made from toothpicks to demonstrate angles.
Monsters showing how angles are all around us and why they are important.

The books are aligned with the 2010 Common Core Standards, but also go into more depth of concepts than I have seen in other similar age curricula.  In fact, some of the problems may leave the student feeling perplexed. Often after taking a break, he may return to the problem more determined to solve it.  This has been the case with my son.  He has learned a lot, and he continues to enjoy these books.

The books can be used as a full curriculum, but I have been using them as enrichment so far.  For now the first three of four parts are available for grade 3 with the fourth part, 3D, due in January 2013.  According to the website, eventually there will be a complete second through fifth grade curriculum, published in the order of 4th, 5th and then 2nd.

There are additional Resources including Coloring Pages, which I have used with my younger son to help familiarize him with some of the beasts.  As with most curriculum, it is beneficial to have your child take a Pretest Assessment before you begin for proper placement.

As in real life the monsters don’t always win every math competition. Yet they are supportive of each other and determined that losing is an opportunity to come back stronger next time.  What a great message!

They’ll be back!

So if you’d like to add a little spice to Math time, try Beast Academy!