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What Worked Well Wednesday: Math Journals

Hello Friends!  It's Heather from Learning with Mrs. Langley and I'm excited to bring you What Worked Well Wednesday
It's that time of year when we are implementing all those procedures in the classroom.  Math Journals are something that we have been trying to encourage in our district for a couple of years now and if you've never used them they can be difficult to start.  I hope I can inspire you to give them a try today!

First: Where to start? 

I use regular composition books for our math journals.  If you get them during back to school sales they are good and CHEAP!  They last all year and can stand up to a Kindergartener.
I have a half day schedule so I have 2 sets of math journals.  I keep them in separate bins so I can keep them straight!
Once we have our books labeled with names I go over our expectations.  Just like everything else in Kindergarten you have to tell them EXACTLY what to do.....step by step.
  • Open up to the next new clean page each day.
  • Write your name at the top of the page (this is not necessary, but I like the extra name writing practice).
  • ONLY write on the page for the day (no flipping through the book)
  • Draw a picture to solve the problem and write the answer at the bottom of the page. 
This is where we start.  Our routine builds throughout the year but this is what it looks like through August and September.

Next:  What do we put in them? 

We use our journals to SOLVE PROBLEMS but at the beginning of the year we need to learn how to record our thinking and write our numbers.  My very first lesson starts with counting items and recording them.  We actually do this for a few weeks to get into the routine.

Once we have our routine in place and we are really good at counting items, recording them, and writing our numbers we start addition problems.

I write all of my own problems for Kindergarten.  We start with addition problems and explore unknowns in all positions.  
To make it EASY PEASY to put the problem in their journal I have 2 solutions for you. 

#1 You can write the problems as a label and print out a page of labels for every problem.  (I did this for years, it works great!)
#2 Write the problems out on a grid, print them out, cut them, and have kiddos glue them into their journals. (This is how I do it now, it takes a little training!)

Here is an example of the grid.
Why go through all the trouble?  It is SUPER important to write your own problems!  Really it is!  Use your kiddos names, use their interests, talk about your class....whatever! If they are PART OF THE PROBLEM then they are EXCITED to be part of the SOLUTION! Engagement goes up 10 fold when you write problems to match your kids.

THAT'S WHAT WORKS FOR ME!  Do you use math journals in your classroom?  What works for you?  If you haven't ever tried journals I encourage you to give them a try this year.  August/September is a great time to start!

Now it's your turn to link up.  We would love to hear what works for you in your classroom.  Link up here to share!  Be sure to visit a couple of the teachers that linked up to share a little Kinder Tribe love!



  1. I always add in their names! They love seeing their names, and I try to throw in something they like (ie Jacob saw 7 racecars). Great ideas!

    1. Yes! Me too! I call them the "problem of the day".....I think they almost get my sarcasm!

  2. The idea of adding in names and number stories that relate to the kids in the classroom makes it more personal as the kids can relate to it and they are more likely to be motivated to solve math problems.

  3. Math journals are the next thing that I want to try! I always have an extra composition notebook each year. Maybe next year I will give it a try! Great post!

  4. Thanks Katie, yes you should try them! I love hearing them talk about their journals, it gets us talking about math in the classroom!