Posted in 5-6 yr olds, 6-7 yr olds, Maths games, Maths Journals, Uncategorized

Maths Journal for Mental Maths

I have had a great response to my “Maths Journal” photos on my Facebook page and on Twitter. In response to lots of questions I have decided to write a blog post in it!

Maths Journals are a wonderful teaching and assessment resource to have in your classrooms. They cost almost nothing and do not take very much time at all. I have used them with both Junior and Senior Infants in the past. I am currently teaching Junior Infants and we have started journaling. I am a huge advocate of challenging children with mental maths and oral maths problems. I mean why else do we need to learn maths if not to use it in our everyday lives!

How to Maths Journal:

Each child needs:

  • blank copy, non-lined type, per child
  • optional Maths Journal cover
  • glue
  • mental maths challenges
  • a 5 minute timer

How do I start?:

From their very first maths class my class are exposed to problem solving and mental/oral maths challenges. It is just a normal part of our day. I “maths talk” and show children how a problem can be solved while illustrating it it on my whiteboard or with manipulatives. I ask for children to suggest and model how they would solve a problem. By the time we come to our “Maths Journal” enteries my class have already developed problem solving skills.

About 2 weeks before children are given their journals I begin to work more formal on recording their answers. I write a question on the board  and “maths talk” what I would do. Demonstrating how to illustrate and record my answer. I try to do this daily during that two week preparation period.

One their first day with their Maths Journal I explain my expectations and the practicality of where they glue the question and how long they have to answer the question. What are my expectations?

  1. That children try to complete these challenges in 5 minutes.
  2. That they focus on the maths rather than the colouring. Its about good maths thinking rather than beautiful drawings.
  3. That it is a maths challenge so they will probably have to write a number to show their answer. That they do not look at another child’s work and if they do to remember that there are often multiple ways of solving a problem so both of them can be correct even if they look different 😉
  4. That the task is completed without talking to their friends about it. It is their challenge to solve

I will sometimes read the question and sometimes not, depending on the age of the children and their literacy levels.  That is as much help as my pupils are given. I ensure that the prompts relate to an aspect of the curriculum that we are currently studying or have already studied. Therefore the challenge should not required modelling. That is the beauty of these journals, I can see thought processes, strenghts and weaknesses at a glance. To my mind they are worth their weight in gold! I used handout last year and regretted it. It is so much better to have a running record.

Here are the Maths Journal covers that I designed for this year:

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 19.06.28

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 19.06.21

Click here to download

Here is a photo of what they look like in real life:

maths journal cover ImageHere are some images of our very first journal entry. It was a revision page for the Number 3. I told my class that there was a “secret number” on their prompt. That number would tell them how many apples to draw. They had to draw that many apples, number them and colour them.
Image 1Image 3Then I set my 5 minute timer and wait to see how they would solve the problem. Click here for a link to the timer.
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 19.07.28

That is pretty much it! I aim to complete a minimum of 2 entries per week. In an ideal world I would favour daily entries. With severe curriculum overload those 5 mins/day can be very, very elusive!!!

To encourage you to give it a whirl here is a Junior Infant, a Senior Infant and a 1st Class prompt 😉 Click here to download

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂

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