Beast Academy is one of the best math curriculums available for gifted students. Kids who like math love Beast. It is a comprehensive math curriculum for grades 2-6. While it is recommended for kids who've completed grade 2, I've seen kids as young as 5 years use it and enjoy it.
What does the Beast Academy curriculum consist of?
1. Physical Books
For each year/ level it consists of 4 guide books (similar to text books) and 4 practice books. There is also a puzzle book.
The guide books are in the form of a colourful graphic novel which appeals to young kids. The books are presented in the form of a discussion between various beasts. But do not let the graphic part fool you. While it presents the materials in an easy to learn format, the depth is unparalleled.
For each of the guide books it has a corresponding practice book. For example for Level 2 we have 2A, 2B, 2C and 2D guide books and practice books. The guide books tell you where to go and practice from the practice book.
The practice books also have an example of how to do the problems and gives you a bunch of questions to practice. There is barely any repetition. The questions are well thought out and gives a good workout for your brain.
These are supplementary and are currently only available for Level 2 and 3 but more might be on the way. You can see a couple of sample puzzles here.
This is present in 2A as well.
Check out Beast Academy from Teachers Pay Teachers as well. They have a few more free puzzles in there. They also have the full version of some of the puzzles (not all)
While these are supplementary I would highly recommend doing them. Apart from being fun, it also helps develop your thinking skills.
The books are available on their website. You can buy them individually or as a set. You can also buy them from amazon. If you want to just get the puzzle book you can get it from Amazon.
2. Online Version
The online version consists of Class, Library, Theater and Lab. This is subscription based. One year of subscription costs $96 USD for the first child and $48 for any additional child. Once you have subscribed you have access to all 4 levels.
Class is where you go to practice the problems. Every problem set is accompanied by a set of instructions. Do make sure the child reads the instructions. Once each problem is answered, they give a detailed solution as well. They have multiple problem sets for the same topic and the questions in the books and online version are different.
The following screenshot is from the demo version.
Library has access to all the guide books. The online guide books are the same as the physical ones. You can choose any level you want, but going in order will definitely help you understand the concepts better.
This is the part I love about online. Young kids love videos and this is where you can go to watch videos. Videos make the online version unique for this feature is not available when you just purchase the books. Even while you are doing the problems, if you have trouble with a particular topic, you can go and watch the videos.
Let's say you run into trouble while doing Block Mountains, you can click on the video button on the top. It'll take you to the video explaining the idea. You can also click the book symbol right next to it to read the corresponding section from the book.
Lab consists of awesome puzzles. It ranges from easy upto hard in difficulty levels. Even though it is not a part of the core curriculum, I highly recommend playing/ working on this for this improves your reasoning skills.
How to start using Beast Academy
Take their placement tests to determine which level to start at.
Their general recommendation
Students ages 8-9 should begin Beast Academy in Level 2
Students ages 9-10 should begin Beast Academy in Level 3
Students ages 10-12 should begin Beast Academy in Level 4
Students ages 11-13 should begin Beast Academy in Level 5
But like I said I've seen kids as young as 5 start BA Level 2. I usually ask kids to finish Grade 2 in Khan academy before starting BA Level 2. You can use the placement test and the age as a guide to see which level you want to start at.
How to use the online version
Even while using the online version, I would still suggest to read the guides (from the library or physical guides). After you've done that do the problems from the "Class". Read the instructions at the beginning of each unit. That'll tell you what's to be done.
After every problem whether you got it right or wrong, look at the solution given. See if that is different from the approach you've used. You can learn a lot from the solutions as well.
Books vs Online - which one to choose?
Advantages of using books
Reduced screen time - With everything being online these days I cannot emphasise on being away from any screen. Kids are so used to stimuli that I often find them unable to sit for a few minutes without fidgeting.
Some of the problems in the books (the star problems) are slightly harder than the online version. For some parents, this has been really important.
Advantages of using the online version
All the levels are open - For a lot of kids this is a huge advantage. For my own I know he's at Level 3 but making him do Level 2 was really advantageous. He finished Level 2 in a month and moved on. I've also done this with a lot of my students. Doing a level lower has boosted their confidence. I ask them to do their right level along with the previous level. A lot of my students do the previous level during their free time.
They get immediate feedback - the kids love this. They like to know whether they've done it right or wrong. The solutions after each problem help them do the next problem better.
Tests at the end of each chapter - this is available only in the online version. I do ask my students to take the test. Sometimes this makes them revisit units that they have trouble with.
Redoing some of the units - Some of the kids forget what they've done a few months back. I get them to redo some of the units. For example, I usually get them to review the shortcuts to multiplication after they've finished Level 3. There are also some cases like my kid who'll scribble all over the book if he gets frustrated. And then he cannot do that unit again in the books. With online I monitor him and even if he gets frustrated and answers all of them badly, he can still redo it after sometime. (should probably get a pic of the pages to show how bad his workbook gets occasionally).
Should you get both?
You can get the bundle which is $150 for one Level's worth of books and a one-year online subscription. This is a great deal. The books alone cost around $110 and the online version for a year is $96.
Getting both is certainly useful to reduce screen time. You can always read the guide books offline. The questions in the books are different from online so if you need extra practice or want to go the extra mile, this is good. You need to make sure that you have the extra time to spend on them though.
If you like your child to do the harder problems but the kid still likes the online version, then you can go for both.
Extra help/ where you can learn from
You can work independently on your own. You have the books and the videos to help you.
AOPS have their own online classes that you can enroll in.
A few tutoring organisations hold online group classes as well.
You'll find tutors in Outschool offering BA classes.
I tutor a lot of kids in the Beast Academy curriculum. I also coach for math competitions and they complement each other. Since I do one-on-one classes we go as per the speed of the student.
Overall, this is a great curriculum for kids who like math/ are gifted in math. For kids who are struggling in math, this can go both ways. For students struggling with math, I would suggest that you supplement with a much lower level BA math (if necessary).
Whether you want to go for the books or online version or both depends on what your child likes and how much time you have to spend.