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Simply Good and Beautiful Math Review: Hate It Or Love It?

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Review Pin

Today, I have a tale of two Simply Good and Beautiful Math reviews that I will attempt to braid into one post.

Spoiler Alert: My youngest child loves this super beautiful curriculum and often says that math is her favorite subject.

****She is our first “mathy” kid, so it still shocks me every time she says it.

Another Spoiler Alert: My middle child hated this curriculum so much that we quit within the first few weeks. Life was too short to keep beating my face into the adorable manipulatives box every day.

I knew that I needed to get this Simply Good and Beautiful Math review out into the world and hopefully help homeschool moms everywhere figure out if this curriculum would be a joyful math adventure….or if it would be a brief speed bump on their way to the next math curriculum.

I know the struggle is real.

In this review you will find:

  • A Quick Overview of Simply Good and Beautiful Math
  • Why We Switched To The Curriculum
  • A Day In a First Grade Lesson
  • A Day in a Second Grade Lesson
  • What We Loved 
  • What We Didn’t Love 
  • A Short Word About The Mormon Issue
  • Whether I Would Recommend This Curriculum To My Best Friend

A Quick Overview of Simply Good and Beautiful Math

TBATB Logo

This curriculum was redesigned in the last few years.

There had been a lot of complaints about TBATB’s math curriculum being too complicated and confusing.

Too many words on the page.

Stories too long.

Explanations were confusing.

Lessons were disjointed.

You get the idea.

TGATB got the message and did a complete redo and rebranding of their math curriculum. Hence, we have *Simply* Good and Beautiful Math today!

This curriculum is available in levels kindergarten – 6th grade. There is nothing available for middle school or high school levels.

It uses a spiral approach that is big on review, fun, beautiful pictures, stories, and hands-on activities with minimal teacher prep!

If you are coming from public school – or plan to head back to public school in the future – you should know that it does not match up with common core standards. According to their website though, it does exceed many national public school standards.

I would definitely describe it as a strong math curriculum that leans towards being advanced and above grade level in some areas.

Why We Switched To Simply Good and Beautiful Math 

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Grade 1 and 2 Sets

My youngest child did very well with this math curriculum during kindergarten last year and actually finished it early.

She had learned a ton and was well prepared for 1st grade, but I wanted her to have something a little more fun, colorful, and manipulative based to keep her love of math going strong. 

I had heard that The Good and the Beautiful had rolled out a fresh, new math curriculum, and I decided that I wanted to check it out. 

It seemed like a good balance of workbook based vs. hands on/low teacher prep and the price was definitely right.

At the same time, I decided to transition my 2nd grader to Simply Good and Beautiful Math. She had been bouncing around between Horizons Math and Teaching Textbooks to keep things fresh, but I sort of wanted to shake things up some more.

I knew she would love the math box in particular, so I went ahead and gave both kids the placement tests and ordered the materials.

I was definitely interested to finally check out this curriculum that I heard so much buzz about.

How Daily Math Lessons With Simply Good and Beautiful Math Work

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Book 1 and Math Box 

For the most part, this is a very open and go style curriculum. 

All you will need to buy is the student workbook and the corresponding manipulative box.

****Starting with 4th grade, there will be other things that come in the set, such as supplement items and an answer key. Thankfully, the price still stays about the same across the grade levels. 

Flip open to the lesson and start reading to your child! That’s pretty much it. 

Lessons seemed to vary in length. Sometimes there were short lessons that took 20 minutes, and other lessons went to 30 or 40 minutes.

Below I will go through a more detailed example of a 1st-grade lesson and a 2nd-grade lesson.

Simply Good and Beautiful Math 1st Grade Level

Simply Good and Beautiful Grade 1 Lesson 41

At the top of the page, it tells you what new concepts will be taught. Lesson 41 will be focused on writing out the words – four, five, and six.

Warm Up Review

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Grade 1 Page 1

The lesson first begins with a parent-led review of previous concepts. This review is always a little different, so the child won’t be able to predict the flow of the lesson.

Today they will review calendar work and count by 10s from 200 to 300.

If they stumble through this, no big deal. It will be reviewed many more times. Keep positive and help as needed.

New Math Skills Teaching

The child will watch a special Simply Good and Beautiful Math youtube video to help them remember to spell 4, 5, and 6. 

Students will get to practice their new skill by answering simple addition problems with words instead of numbers.

The next section tells a story of a women who owns a rock store, and she is making a new display of her rocks on scales.

Children must use logic to write out how much each rock weighs.

More Review

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Grade 1 lesson page 2

There are usually 1 or 2 pages of review, depending on how big the graphics are.

Today is one page of review.

The child will answer some addition problems and count money to figure out what rocks he can buy.  

The last part of the review is cutting out shapes and using problem-solving skills to figure out how all the rocks can fit on a shelf.

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Second Grade

Page 1 of Simply Good and Beautiful Math Lesson Grade 2

Lesson 30 will teach Rounding To The Nearest 10

Warm Up Review

The parent will walk the child through an oral or hands-on review every day – and it’s always rotating concepts.

Today the student will use the clock on the top of the math box to set times.

New Math Skills Teaching

You will read the text to your child that explains the concept of rounding using rain falling off an umbrella.

What a great visual!

Next the child will have a chance to use their new rounding skills with two activities.

Again, this is spiral based mah, so no worries if the child stumbles through this portion. There will be plenty of time to sharpen skills throughout the year.

Independent Review Time

Page 2 of Simpy Good and Beautiful Math Lesson Grade 2

You may need to sit down and do this with your child, sit near your child for help if they need it, or let them do it completely independently. It just depends on how well they’re grasping the concepts. 

This lesson has 3 pages of review. The concepts covered are money problem stories, double-digit subtraction, time, double-digit addition, writing number words, place value, and an addition number story.

Reviw pages 2 and 3 of Simply Good and Beautiful Math Grade 2 Lesson

The last page is a logic puzzle that uses wooden stars from the manipulative box.

10 Things We Love About Simply Good And Beautiful Math

heart shaped tree

1. Yes, It’s As Beautiful As They Say

Of all the curriculum I have ever seen, The Good And The Beautiful definitely takes the prize for the most lovely presentation. 

Homeschool moms are likely to swoon as they flip through the math books (this goes for their language arts curriculum too).

It almost looks like a storybook as opposed to a math book. And I think even the shape of the workbook was designed to give it that sort of feel.

This definitely has the potential to draw in even the most math-resistant kids.  

2. Daily Dose of Review Is Not Monotonous and Boring

I have done daily review with other math curriculums that was so painfully boring.

Why?

Because they would review the same thing (or a minimal variation) every single day. I understood that the curriculum creators were trying to hammer in concepts…but the predictability and monotony was over the top.

I love that Simply Good and Beautiful Math has a different review every day! This keeps kids engaged and on their toes!

3. Spiral Approach Is Where It’s At

It feels like we have done every homeschool math curriculum on the market, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that spiral-based math curriculum is a good fit for most elementary-aged kids. 

The mastery approach has always seemed to lack solid review.

And since a kid’s brain is like a strainer – random things fall out and are forgotten all the time – kids really need that constant spiral of review and fresh content.

Every day we flip open Simply Good and Beautiful Math, there is something new to learn!

The lesson is a tiny adventure in math that ends with a solid review of concepts recently covered. 

I love that if my kid stumbles through a lesson, it’s not a big deal. She’ll see the concept again and again and again till she gets it. 

No pressure for instant mastery.

4. No Teacher’s Manual/Minimal Teacher Prep

Can I get an Amen?!

I love that this beautiful curriculum is just one course book and a manipulative workbook. No extra giant book to buy and keep track of. 

That keeps costs down, but it also makes the math more intimate with your kid. You are sitting side by side on the couch or at the dining room table going through your lesson together!

And I don’t know about you, but I have looked into plenty of new math curriculums, only to shrink away at the mountains of teacher prep and teacher time that are required. 

I want my kid to love math…but I have three kids to homeschool. I don’t have that kind of time during the day!

I love that this curriculum allows you to strike a balance. Your kid can have fun with math, without you having to do an hour of prep every night.

5. Independent Review

So I don’t know if this is what the Simply Good and Beautiful Math curriculum creators intended, but I love that my 1st grader can do some independent work with her math lessons!

While I’m busy with one of my other kids, she can easily grab her book and complete her math review as a warm-up before our lesson. 

Sometimes she needs a little help reading the directions or reviewing the concept, but for the most part, she can do the review by herself.

This is a wonderful way to foster independent learning, responsibility, and time management in the homeschool setting.

****For second grade and up, it is intended to be independent review time.

6. 120 Lessons – Yes!

Whew!

So many math programs are 36 weeks long and require 5 days a week. It is very easy to fall behind schedule if your child is struggling…or if literally anything goes sideways in your life.

I love that this math curriculum only requires math to be done 4 days a week! That leaves room for a day off, co-op, errands, play dates, or a fun math day of board games!

7. Story-Based and Game-Based Math

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Grade 1 Workbook page and game peice

Be still my homeschool heart!

I love that this curriculum has built-in game boards in the student book AND adorable game pieces in the manipulative box. My 1st grader had boats and my 2nd grader had airplanes in her box. 

Sprinkled throughout the lessons are gameboards or interactive activities that use these cute pieces. For example, my 2nd grader would have to skip count by 25 by moving her airplane from cloud to cloud (they were randomly labeled with numbers from 25 to 200).

In another lesson, my 1st grader put her boat pieces on a treasure map game to navigate around terms like Today, Tomorrow, and One Week From Today.

Other lessons have short stories to read to your kids to help them grasp math concepts. This is not every lesson, but it does come up regularly.

Very cute, interactive, and fun for kids!

8. Manipulative Box

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Box Grade 2

My kids were instantly drawn to the manipulative box. 

It is so smart in its design!

It comes with a moveable clock face on the top of the box, and underneath the box is a built-in tiny magnetic whiteboard!

Everything you need is in the box – which includes fun game pieces, dice, play money, and other things. 

****TGTB provides detailed instructions to put together your own math box if you are interested in saving some money. I thought about it, but the pieces seemed a bit too random to find on my own. It seemed like it would be less expensive overall to just buy the box with the curriculum kit.

9. Math Lessons Speak To Many Learning Styles

Whether your child is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner,  Simply Good and Beautiful Math has them covered.

I love that there are manipulatives, stories, games, videos, cutting out, and many other activities to make math lessons fun for kids. 

My youngest daughter has loved the lessons so much that she actually wanted to continue them into the summer! 

10. Cost (And Free Preview!)

I love that Simply Good and Beautiful Math is a low investment ($50-$60 per year). The overall cost is actually less than the Saxon manipulative box!

And on top of that, TGATB also allows you to see the ENTIRE curriculum before you buy it.

They will actually allow you to download the entire workbook to print for free – but I wouldn’t recommend that. The cost of printing over 300 brightly colored pages is not worth it!

But it is nice to be able to flip through the curriculum virtually before opening your wallet. 

Want to see the curriculum? 

Click here to get access to all of the K – 6th grade workbooks.

What We Don’t Love About Simply Good and Beautiful Math: Honesty Time

Simply Good and Beautiful Math Grade 2

Yep, even with all of the things that we love…there are plenty of things that we don’t love.

To be super clear, my youngest LOVES the math curriculum and it is her favorite subject.

Most of these issues are with my 2nd grader. 

1. Math Activity Box Is Very Brittle

Broken Math Box for Grade 1

That little wooden box is so cute, but man does it break easily. Both of my girls’ manipulatives boxes broke within the first two weeks of owning them. 

They were kept with our school supplies but still managed to fall apart from gentle use.  

I was able to fix one with wood glue, but the other one hasn’t done that well.

Definitely expect to use gorilla glue at some point if you purchase the manipulative box. 

2. Not A Great Fit for “Non-Mathy” Kids

My middle kid (2nd grader) loves reading, stories, singing, and theatre.

Math just isn’t that important to her, but she was still doing reasonably well with her previous math curriculum. She was on grade level, and in some areas, ahead of where I expected her to be.

When we started Simply Good and Beautiful Math though, she started to lose confidence quickly and actually seemed to go backward.

The new concepts taught were easy enough to understand, but the activities and questions seemed too abstract or complicated for her 2nd-grade brain.

She would get frustrated with multistep problems that overwhelmed and confused her.

For example, one lesson taught her to skip count by 50. In a review section days later, she was asked to independently do horizontal addition problems like 50+50+50+1. 

Let’s just say her brain went haywire, her confidence plummeted, and she missed the straightforward type of math we had been doing. 

For reference, soon after bombing with this curriculum, she took a placement test and easily landed into 3rd-grade level Saxon math. She is several weeks deep into that curriculum and doing just fine. 

Saxon is known for breaking math skills down piece by piece and I will be doing a review on their curriculum soon.

3. Lesson Lengths Are Super Variable

Some days you only have two workbook pages to do, and other days it’s three or four pages. 

This meant that sometimes the lessons were mercifully short, and other times it was painfully long. 

That is really hard for young kids who already don’t love a subject.

I found myself flipping to the day’s lesson to check the length before starting the day out. I would say, “See! It’s a short day! It’s going to be fine. You’ll be done in no time.” 

That’s not usually what you say about a curriculum you love and want to use next year.

A Short Word About the Mormon Issue

annoyed little girl

For years I have heard comments and talk that I should stay away from TGATB because the curriculum creator, Jenny Phillips, is a Mormon.

As a Christian homeschooling parent, I just want to reassure you that there is nothing in the curriculum that is even remotely close to Mormon doctrine. 

The website clearly says that the curriculum does not push any one doctrine over another. Christian values such as honesty and kindness are at the forefront – not doctrinal issues.

Religion in the math curriculum will be a non-issue for most parents, even secular parents.

Final Thoughts: Would I Recommend Simply Good and Beautiful Math To My Best Friend?

hmmm thought bubble

Despite my middle kid’s total wipe-out with this curriculum, I would still recommend Simply Good and Beautiful Math.

I think that this math curriculum is a home run for many reasons: cost, manipulatives (just glue the box back together), beautiful pages, stories, games, low teacher prep, solid lessons, and 4 lessons/week layout.

If a certain lesson takes too much time, consider splitting them over two days. 

I think the vast majority of math-loving kids will absolutely love it.

If you know that your kid doesn’t love math though, I would be cautious. Carefully take the placement test and consider downloading the workbook first.

Do the lessons with your child for about a week, while just writing the answers on a piece of paper. 

If things are smooth sailing, then go ahead and purchase the curriculum!

If not…then good luck with your search, Homeschool Mama!

Have you used Simply Good and Beautiful Math? What were your thoughts?

Did you love it or hate it?

Share below in the comments!

Read Next:

I really wanted to love Math U See Alpha. It is such a popular, well loved math curriculum! We started out strong, but in the end it was not for our homeschool. I hope this math curriculum review helps another family make the best informed decision for their kids and homeschool!

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this insightful article. I have purchased Horizons math for my first grader this fall–this is our first year homeschooling. I’ve been very interested in TGATB but also a bit uncertain about it. So interesting that your daughters thrived with very different math curriculums. That’s a testament to me of the power of homeschooling–we get to make those calls!

    Math is the subject I’m most nervous about for us. I’m not a math person myself, but hopefully we can figure it out! Haha

  2. My daughter struggled so much in math last school year. We had been doing Masterbooks Math 2, and she sailed through level 1 the year before very well. Anyway, it took me until March to realize there was a problem, and we ended up ditching that curriculum and trying TGTB Math Level 2 starting in May. Even though she still struggles with math, she had a few “aha” moments with this curriculum over the 15 lessons we were able to complete (something completely lacking in the last few month with Masterbooks). AND, she didn’t cry every day. Major win for us. She is drawn to the manipulatives and game-style/hands-on learning this curriculum provides. She is a strong writer, very imaginative and artistic, and I think it speaks to her brain in a way that straightforward math does not. We’re trying my son on TGTB Level K this fall, and even if it only works for a few years, I think it’s worth it to start math in a fun way. He seems to be less artistically minded and might eventually benefit from a different curriculum, but we’ll wait and see.

    1. April, Thanks for the comment! It is so interesting to me that your artsy kid flourished with TGATB math, but mine crumbled. Kids always keep you guessing! Anyhow, thanks for sharing your experience!

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