Math Journaling

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Once upon a time…

Shonda asked to hear more about our math journals. It’s been a while ago now, but I’m ready to answer! The idea of writing in math has been around a long time. When I was still a classroom teacher in Maryland in the 90s it was all the rage and math teachers were trying to figure out how to manage it.

Since my kids enjoy math puzzles and like to try and figure out longer problems or hands on problems or just otherwise interesting problems outside of their math workbooks, I thought I’d try out the math journal.

I was further inspired by and article in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine back in February- when I became enthralled while flying to Denver. The article is from the Winter 2008-2009 issue and is entitled, Mind-Mannered Math No More. The author, Cheryl Bastarache, explains how she organizes a math journal for her kids. Actually, that issue had several math articles another one I enjoyed was about Integrating Math into Everyday Life. I find we talk a lot about how to solve everyday problems as we go about our day. For example, the day I made the bubble solution we needed 2.5 quarts of water. I told the kids that 4 cups equaled a quart. I-6 said we’d need 8 cups then. When told him we actually needed another half quart he replied, without missing a beat, that it would mean 10 cups. This would make a fine math journal entry!

You have to make a choice about what kind of notebook you will use for a math journal. You can use bound notebooks, three prong folders, or a loose leaf binder with dividers. I like the flexibility of the binder so that’s what we’ve gone with. Mrs. Bastarache suggests the following sections within the journal:

  • copywork– lists like days of the week using StartWrite or math quotations which she says you can Google.
  • research-facts from math biographies, history of math or other topics of interest- her family studied the history of the calendar, the history of the Canadian dollar (she’s Canadian), and early calculators. They’ve also done the mathematics of cartography, tessellations, probability, and genetics. They’ve used lots of creative methods to share the research like lapbooks, skits, comics, etc.
  • challenges– puzzles, games and anything that requires them to think beyond where they are right now. The key is to make sure they explain how they got an answer.
  • responses– this could be answers to open-ended questions, making up their own problems with solutions, and logs about math literature
  • fun stuff– puzzles from magazines, printouts from computer games, sketches of answers to domino problems, and work from the Roddles book or pattern block activities, or even making their own math games.
R8’s math journal- She’s been working from Math for Girls– this was a problem about hair

She had to figure use doll measurements and her own measurements to decide whether or not if she was the size of her doll if the doll’s clothes would fit her. Turns out no! This was all about proportion.
Measuring her own proportions

Another source for math journaling

This was a great activity on understanding when to multiply and divide.

I found the April Math Calendar at Homeschool Math Blog.Looking forward to when the May calendar is posted!

A math puzzle for E10 from the book The Junior Big Book of Games published by Games Magazine. Remember that one? I used to use this puzzle book for my skills classes back in the day.

This is where E10 does his Life of Fred math so far. This is a superb little program that is all about well Fred. You HAVE to get your hands on Fred. Make sure to visit the website and read all about Fred. Both of my older kids sat down and read the whole of Fred when it arrived. It’s all about a 5yo boy who teaches at Kittens University and how he wants to buy a bike.

Math webites and blogs to check out:

We use Horizons Math as our math curriculum. It’s thorough, visually pleasing and cheap. There is a lot out there for math. I don’t plan to change things now. We are invested with Horizons having all the teacher materials through grade 6.

I have to bend and stretch Horizons to make it fit every child. However, it does provide our core program. I wonder if I can be brave in the future…brave enough to make math journaling the main piece of the curriculum. First I think I’ll get I-6 started on one and see what he can do.

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  1. Where will you go after Horizons 6? I was using Saxon and I just don’t think that it is working anymore so I am looking again at this math. Thanks, oh I love the April calendar.

  2. I would LOVE to see how you do this with your six year old! My five and six year olds need more “real life” math, (we use Horizons, too) and this looks like a fun idea, I’m just not sure about how to put it together for them. We are just now finishing up Horizons’ First grade, and they both read fluently.Thanks for links, I’m going to go check them out!BTW, I love your blog. 🙂

  3. Heather, thank you so much for obliging my request! :)So, basically, a math journal is the math equivalent of a nature journal. Veeery interesting! I just bought a book I think you will like. It’s called The Beginniers Guide to Constructing the Universe. My 11 yo ds is loving it!

  4. Thank you Shonda! I couldn’t quite remember who asked sorry about that…Yes, basically it’s all the stuff you can do with math but not necessarily in your math curriculum journal.I will check out the book. Thanks!Heather

  5. Debi- I’m not sure what we are doing after Horizons. However, if you ask my husband he’ll tell you we are buying math texts and the kids will do math that way- no more workbooks!I’m intrigued by Teaching Textbooks, but Dan doesn’t like the price. Math on the Level is my next choice. We’ll see how that works out.E10 is in math 6 now and will be finished before this time next year. He’s finishing 5th grade now.I’ll be sure to share when we make a decision.

  6. Speasmor Academy-Thanks for reading!I’ll share what I-6 is doing in his journal as we go. Mostly right now it’s puzzles, but I will be doing copywork with him and I think this week we’ll take the bubble solution problem and put it into words together.Heather

  7. Shonda I should add that your request has been on a sticky on my kitchen cabinet for weeks now!Now you know what happens to blog entry requests I can’t oblige right away.I wanted to wait until I had the time to think it out and until we had some more stuff to look at!Heather

  8. Heather,Just wanted to comment on the cost of TT, you have four children that would be using it, so 150.00/4 is 37.50 a child. Not too bad in the long run. But I know that the initial outlay of cash, can be shocking sometimes. I am not sure if you have to keep getting workbooks or not. But I always look at the big picture and then if something doesn’t fit one child maybe it will work for a different one, and math is usually the worst. I have spent money on 5 different math programs and will spend more I know. I am sure that we will be trying the TT, I am really waiting for the 4th grade and if it works well with the children like I think it will, then I think we will be using it till they are done. All of mine like being on the computer, especially the oldest.But I think that is one of the best parts of homeschooling is that we can try different things and if something doesn’t work we can try again.

  9. Very interesting and inspiring math post. I like the math journal idea. I just got the first 2 LOF books(fractions and decimals) for my oldest son. I’m still trying to figure out where we’re going with math after

  10. Hi, Heather! Thank you for linking to my blog. I’ve posted the May Math Calendar now, if you still want it. You might also enjoy my post about math journaling: Writing to Learn Math.–Denise

  11. We've started math notebooking just this year. I'm using lots of graphic organizers because Sprite is just visual like that. Anything to make the math pictorial will help her. And like you, we stick in the odd puzzle, biography of mathematician, etc. It's a hodgepodge.

  12. I saw your post on the MOTL list. Great post! I'm bookmarking it so that I can come back and read it more thoroughly when the kids don't think I should be making breakfast!! I would like to start doing some of this with my dd9 and maybe ds6.

  13. Saw everyones comments on TT. Have been using it for the last year. Work book not really necessary nor is the teachers material. The computer part is great especially for dyslexics as the computer does all the reading aloud and a student can have a concept repeat as often as needed. The program explains a concept, offers 5 practices then goes on to 20 problems. Hints, which are reminders of things taught, are given on difficult problems. You can click on an explanation of each problem after the answer which is great for special needs or if the child got it right but was a little ify on the concept. The program does an automatic review while also teaching new concepts. Students an go as fast as they want or if a concept is difficult you can stop and learn in a different format then go back. You can use it for up to 3 students at a time. There is a gradebook for each so you can see where everyone is at and where they might need help. We have used the 3rd grade, 7th grade, pre-algebra, and algebra. If you can arrange to buy only the disks it helps with the cost. I have never opened the other materials. It is really a worthwhile program.

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