You may have tried math journals or interactive math notebooks in the past or you may even be using them now… but you’re finding they are just not sustainable with everything else you must get done during the day. The solution is easy – pre-made math journals.

No more passing out slips of paper that then need to be cut apart and glued in before your students can even begin their work. The style of an interactive math journal may be appealing, but it likely isn’t realistic as an everyday tool.


What Is Considered an Interactive Notebook

An interactive math notebook is a tool that combines note-taking, reflection, and hands-on activities. These notebooks are meant to be personalized, allowing students to create a record of their learning journey throughout the school year.

In the context of kindergarten math, interactive notebooks will typically use counters or shapes, along with drawing and writing to help students learn math concepts.

The idea behind interactive math notebooks is to engage students in active learning and encourage them to think deeply about math concepts.

Why I Opted Not to Use Interactive Math Notebooks

I knew from my schedule that the best way to get my students engaged in their math lesson for the day was to jump in with a quick warm-up where they would find success. That meant we would start our math block by reviewing a concept that we had previously covered.

Like many other teachers five or six years ago, I was drawn to the fun colors and movable flaps of interactive notebooks. But I quickly realized even though my students loved them, it was eating up too much of our time. Their little six-year-old hands could not cut and glue fast enough!

Interactive journals may be great for upper elementary and beyond, but I would stray away from using them daily with lower elementary students. (I do still think they have their time and place in kindergarten and first grade classrooms!)


Finding a Solution that Worked for Transitions

As I said, I wanted to give my students success from the minute we started math. Our young learners often have a hard time with math, so we want to encourage them to lean on the basics as their skills develop over time. That is the beauty of reviewing concepts they know – it keeps those skills fresh in their mind as they work towards understanding more complex skills.

The idea of math journals was exactly what I wanted, but I needed something that my students could pull out of their desks and complete in a few minutes. That allowed students to warm up their math brains and allowed us time to go over the problem(s) of the day in just about five minutes.

January Interactive Math Notebooks Alternative
March Interactive Math Notebooks Alternative
April Interactive Math Notebooks Alternative

This is the beauty of pre-made math journals! Students don’t have to create their math problems before they can begin to solve them. My monthly math journals require only pencils and crayons.

Using the pre-made math journals was easier on my students, increased our working time in math, and gave my students something to look forward to every day! You wouldn’t believe how many times my students begged me to let them complete ‘just one more page’ in their journals.

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Creation Castle

Heather is the author of Creation Castle. She has experience with general education, special education, and ESL students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She specializes in early elementary math and literacy, as well as organization.