Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Math Notebook Setup Part 1

In addition to your sweet comments about my notebooks, I received several comments/emails inquiring about how to set them up. I would like to answer all of you now in this post! I do not have enough time to go through all of the setup process, so here is part 1. I should be able to finish part 2 tomorrow.

My students LOVE their math notebooks. They especially love making foldables or anything else on a colored piece of paper to put in them. I follow the same procedure each year to set them up:

1. Obtain notebooks
My students aren't always able to get necessary school supplies (for various reasons). That is why I clean out the composition books at Walmart each August! They always have them for 10 cents each right before school starts, so I buy ALL of what they have! I have stocked up on them over the past three years so I have quite the collection. I also stock up on the 10-cent spirals. I really have no preference as to which I want my kids to use--I just think it is important for them to have a personalized notebook so I accept whatever (new) notebook they bring in. Some have those ginormous three or five-subject notebooks, some have the basic composition book or spiral, some have Bieber, Phineas and Ferb, or Transformers on the cover, and some just have a basic notebook. As far as using one type over the other because of pages falling out--that has not been something that I have had to deal with. I know a lot of other teachers I have talked to about notebooks won't allow composition books because of that. Whatev, I'm not that picky (in that aspect).

2. Guidelines
At the beginning of the year we talk about how we are all mathematicians and even have a little minilesson over it. The point of the lesson is that mathematicians are always learning, observing and discovering, all of which can be recorded. We go over the guideline page (available below) together and then the kids sign the bottom. This page is glued on the inside cover so I can refer to it in case any problems should arise (like a student not taking care of his notebook--we can go back and look at the guidelines he signed). I think I got the original page from a workshop; I modified the font and a few words to make it fit my classroom.

3. Personalize notebooks
The very first page in the notebook is for students to personalize. This is a page that they decorate to represent themselves so I allow them to decorate it as much (within reason) or as little as they want. (I don't have any picture examples to share now but I'll get some tomorrow!) For this year's deco party, I brought in a bunch of scrapbook paper with a nice variety of patterns and colors. I had aspirations of bringing in my Cricut so they could cut out the letters in their name but I decided not to at the last minute--it would have taken too much time and I didn't have anymore to spare. They were given two class periods to decorate--we went ahead and did the front and back of the page so it was nice and sturdy. They really enjoyed this part and I love how they came out!

That's it for today--stay tuned for part 2! :)


  1. I started math notebooks this year with my second graders and I love them. It is so fun to see them using them during work time. I hope some of them will actually use them next year in third.

    2B Honey Bunch
    The Best Endings

  2. I have a Maths and an English notebook. I think next year I will use the one book and make Maths one side and English the other.

  3. Great Idea! I like your organization of them and creating a table of contents. The reference page is great. Thanks for sharing.


  4. aaaargh, I love the mathematician page!!! You are so smart about everything! This is awesome!

  5. You have completely inspired me to do Math Notebooks next year! As a Kindergarten teacher, I never thought or heard about these, but I am switching to third grade next year and this is a MUST! Thank you so much for the guidelines sheet. It will help my students (and me!) tremendously! :)

  6. I can't see the page above, could you email it to me at

  7. I can't download your AWESOME math journal inf. I really, really want to do math journals this year. Could you e-mail me the info? It is coming up all black and I have tried everything. Thanks, diedra

  8. I would love to know more about your mathematician mini lesson!

  9. Thank you for helping me get started with Interactive Notebooks! I linked this post to my site. Love your blog.

  10. Janaye this is great! It was just what I needed to get mine started. I love your math notebook rubric too.
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Can you post a file for this page? I love the set up and would love to make changes that suit my class/students.

  12. Could you please email me the guidelines sheet for the math notebook? Thanks! Kim