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First Grade Math Journals

Instructor: Leah Salyer
Math journals are a great way for teachers to read and understand how their students feel about math while also gaining knowledge of the thought processes involved in solving problems. Get more information about how math journals can be used in first grade classroom environments.

Ways to Incorporate Math Journals

Whether you provide a math journal to your first graders or have them develop their own, there are a number of ways to incorporate math journals into your first-grade classroom. Math journal activities for first grade should be kept simple for young learners and involve the math concepts that you're currently discussing in class. Examples of ways math journals can be incorporated into first-grade classrooms are outlined below.

Starting with a Problem

Give students a daily journal prompt relating to math. For first grade, it could be as simple as one math problem written on the board when they begin their math lesson for the day. Have students complete the problem and turn their journals in at the end of class. Or, you could review their work at the end of each week to gain some insight into how they build their problem-solving skills.

Get some ideas on how to start class with the lesson on Math Writing Prompts.

Using Pictures

Hone your first graders' image recognition with math. Drawing a picture to create a word problem can make learning math more fun. You could also have your kiddos find pictures related to a math problem to paste into their math journals to ramp up the creativity, engaging both the creative and analytical sides of their brains. Pictures can be a great tool to help students 'show their work' in an engaging and educational way.

Get more information on how to integrate pictures and word problems into class with the lesson on Math Word Problems.

Combining with Lessons

Math journals can also be used in conjunction with a current lesson. Take a look at the activity suggestions and the instructional materials below that you can use to help students understand these math concepts:

  • Ask students to pick one of the geometric shapes you've been studying in class. Have them create a journal entry where they will draw and label the shape and then list its attributes.
  • Have students draw an array to help solve simple multiplication problems.
  • Students can practice addition and subtraction by writing out mathematical equations in their journals. Have them practice adding and subtracting groups of their favorite animals, foods, money or objects through pictures they draw or find.

Writing Weekly Summaries

Another option for math journals is offering children a chance to explain what they learned after an extended period to make sure it really stuck. Ask students one basic question or provide a math problem that sums up the week's math lessons, and let them write their responses in their journals.

You might try an open-ended question or two instead. Some examples include:

  • What did I learn in math this week?
  • What was your favorite math topic this week?
  • What was the hardest math topic this week?
  • I think math is....
  • Word problems are....
  • I have the most trouble with...

Assigning Journal Homework

Math journals could also be used for homework assignments. You can place a homework assignment in the students' journals or have them copy one down from the board. They can then complete the assignment in their journals at home and turn them in to you to be reviewed. In addition to the lessons linked above, you can find many more lessons, ideas and handouts in the Math for Kids course to help you come up with journal topics and assignments, or to help you plan or supplement your class curriculum.

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