Starting kindergarten math journals can be EASY! Let me give you a peek at to how I introduce math journals to my kindergarteners!
Setting up your journals
If you are like me, you have a few journals going in your classroom. I usually have 3:
I used to be that crazy woman you saw sitting on the floor of WalMart around mid-August. I was desperate to find 3 different sets of 25 composition notebooks. I would have them spread out all over the place and I would dig so I could find 25 blue, 25 red, 25 green. SIGH! I would buy all of the composition notebooks myself because they HAD to be matchy-matchy. Then inevitably someone would move, someone would throw -up, or some other disaster would happen to ruin my perfectly matching journals. THEN I discovered the beauty of duct tape! Each journal has a different colored duct-tape spine and life is HAPPY! It is easier for the students to grab the right one QUICKLY!
Next Blank Page
I also inserted a black ribbon in the notebooks. This was new and I wanted to be sure they would last all year. Yep! They did! Students could easily find their next blank page with the ribbon. A little time spent on procedures was really worth it.
Introducing Math Journals
You know nothing is really easy the first week of school, so dialing back the pace a bit while students are learning the routines is important.
So when I introduce math journals, I want the students really close to me. I have them bring their crayon box to the carpet and then I hand out their journals. This is always a big deal. I explain that this is where we will be recording our math thinking ALL YEAR. These journals are PRECIOUS! We must treat them that way.
Then I read the prompt. We brainstorm on how we should respond AND then I model it. I am REALLY specific on how and where they should glue their journal prompt. (Yes, THEY glue them in). I always remember the words of my master teacher, “Don’t do things for them if they can do it themselves.”
Then the students get to work in their notebook.
Questions I get asked a lot
- Q: How long do you keep them on the carpet? A: As long as it takes. If we are working on a prompt that they have not encountered before, we solve the prompt together. This happens a lot during the first month of school because EVERYTHING is new… right? So we answer the first prompt together with modeling. The next day, they will get a similar prompt. Now they have to apply what they learned the previous day to today’s word problem. (Each journal prompt has 3-5 variations of the same prompt… so they have plenty of opportunities for independent application.
- Q: Why don’t they have manipulatives to use or cut out in solving the problem? A: Well, that would be cute, but math journals are not about being cute. Math journals are about creating strategies for solving word problems. They will always be able to do a quick sketch to solve a word problem. They will not always have cute clip art to cut out.
- Q: Why don’t you print them on labels? A: I am cheap! I print the entire month’s worth of prompts (25 different prompts) in advance on paper. Then I select the next day’s prompt based on what I think the students need. If they have mastered a particular type of prompt I might move on. At the end of the month, I could have 5-10 prompts that have to be recycled. If these were expensive labels, I would probably cry. Plus it is SO much easier to drop the paper prompt in the lid of their crayon box. Those labels would be a hot mess! I suppose I could put them in their myself…but umm… WHY? Why do I want to either take our valuable instructional time to do it OR my ever shrinking prep time to do it? My kindergartners have been doing it this way for YEARS.
- Q: Are the common core aligned? A: Yes, several years ago I revised this unit and they are all aligned now. If you are not a common core state… no worries! The actually CCSS is not listed on each individual prompt only at the top of the page.
- Q: Are these aligned with a math program? A: No, I created these to be a sprial review. I don’t want my students to lose a skill because we have moved onto a new math focus. So each month, we review, review, review.
Growth over time!
We start out simple… but we build in complexity throughout the year.
How long do they take?
You can find the entire year’s worth of math journal prompts HERE.
I hope you give math journals a try. If you click below, you can get free set of journal prompts and the math journal cover to get you started!