Interactive Notebook Series (Part One): Organization & Storage

Blog Posts, Interactive Math Notebooks

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Interactive math notebooks are gaining huge popularity lately and rightly so.  They are highly engaging with students and if managed correctly, can be a game changer in your classroom.  If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or my TpT Store, you already realize how much I love Interactive Notebooks.  I love them so much that I have created my own for all of the math skills that I teach in 2nd grade.  As I use them with my students, we see many successes and we also come upon some challenges.  I have also found things that have helped us deal with these challenges so that interactive math notebooks can continue to be beneficial in my classroom.  Today I am going to share with you 9 Tips for Organizing Interactive Notebooks.

Spiral vs. Composition Notebook
This one is personal opinion but I feel that the spiral notebooks are better for the little learners.  If you teach kindergarten through third grade, I would go with the spiral notebooks because of their size.  That being said, the downfall to spiral notebooks is that the pages tend to tear out more easily.  I have a solution to this problem…keep reading.

Table of Contents
One way teachers navigate the opportunity for quick referencing is through the use of a table of contents.  If you plan to use your interactive notebooks as a resource for your students to look back and previous skills to review or reference their learning, a table of contents might be beneficial for you.  One year I had my students number their pages from front to back at the beginning of the year.  The next year I had them number the page as they needed it for their activity.  The numbered pages are necessary if you plan to use a table of contents.  You can grab a free table of contents in my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack.

Keep your students and their interactive notebooks organized with these free resources! This post has FREE table of contents templates, notebook tabs, and tub labels. These will definitely help keep interactive notebooks organized and efficient.

Topic Tabs 
Topic tabs are another form of organizing your students’ interactive notebooks.  This is a personal preference option.  Some teachers feel these are essential and some prefer to use a table of contents.  Depending on how your math series are set up, topic tabs may help keep your students’ content organized.  These topic tabs are available in my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack and are created by skill and unit number.

Keep your students and their interactive notebooks organized with these free resources! This post has FREE table of contents templates, notebook tabs, and tub labels. These will definitely help keep interactive notebooks organized and efficient.

Page Numbers
Earlier in this post I mentioned page numbers.  Here you can see what they look like in our notebooks.  These are important if you choose to use a table of contents.  I also like them because if I have a certain activity that I want the class to revisit, I can tell them the page number for them to turn to and we are quickly and easily on the same page with little time wasted.

Yarn Bookmarks 
Some teachers prefer this method.  Yarn bookmarks are a huge time saver.  At the beginning of the year, tie a piece of yarn to the top of the wire spiral of each notebook.  Make sure it is a little longer than the length of the notebook.  Then train your students to lay their yarn bookmark on their page when they finish working on it.  Gone are the days of blank pages being wasted.  The next time your student needs to work in their notebook, they can open up to their yarn bookmarked page and be ready to go.

The Great Glue Debate
I get this question all of the time.  Do your students use a glue stick or drippy glue?  Here’s what I have found.  Glue sticks are less messy but the pieces tend to fall off over time.  Drippy glue (that’s what we call it) works well for the sticky factor but can be really messy and if they close their notebooks with piles of glue…well, you know the rest of the story…the pages are forever stuck together.  I know that some teachers have been very successful with drippy glue because they train their students to use small dots along the edges so if this is you, AWESOME!  For me, when it comes to interactive notebooks, we use glue sponges.  They are very easy to make.  Here’s a tutorial on how it can be done.

Are you tired of having your students' notebook pages stuck together? Are you constantly searching for glue stick caps? Glue sponges will solve these problems. This tutorial will explain, step by step, how to make glue sponges for your classroom. They are perfect for interactive notebooks.

Time Consuming and Extra Pieces
A common question that I keep receiving is what to do about the students that take longer with gluing and cutting tasks.  They are just finishing their cutting and the rest of the class is finished gluing.  Yes, we all have them!  First of all, if you have one or two students that struggle with their fine motor skills, don’t hesitate doing part of the cutting job for them.  In the end, it is another huge time (and stress) saver.  The other helpful tip is to glue or tape a pocket to the back of each student’s interactive notebook.  The extra pieces that do not get glued in on time can be stored in there so the child can finish their task when they have time.

Keep the Notebooks out of the Desks
When my students finish their interactive notebook task for the day, they are required to turn them into their Team Tub.  The reason that they don’t put them back in their desk is because they are less likely to get damaged if they are in the tubs AND it is easy for me to collect them to grade them (information about grading in part two of this series)!  Additionally, I like to keep these tubs close to my desk so that it is easy for me to grab and grade as I have the time.  Let’s face it, I’m all about keeping things as efficient as possible!  The team tub labels can be found in my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack.

Keep your students and their interactive notebooks organized with these free resources! This post has FREE table of contents templates, notebook tabs, and tub labels. These will definitely help keep interactive notebooks organized and efficient.

Prep Ahead of  Time
My last organizational/storage tip for you is this…do as much prep in the summer or on the weekends as you possibly can!  Trust me, it will make your life so much easier!  I have all of my interactive notebook pages assembled and I keep them in a binder.  Each topic has its own tab so I can quickly find what I need.   This system works well for me!

I hope that you learned at least one tip from this post that can help you with implementing interactive notebooks into your classroom!  If you are looking to get started with these OR if you are looking to add to your collection of interactive notebooks, I have created an entire year’s worth of interactive notebooks for your students.  Grab your copy by clicking on the photo below.

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If you are an interactive notebook fan and are on Pinterest, I’d love for you to come and check out my boards!  If you like what you see, I’d love for you to follow me so you don’t miss out on anymore pins!  I have a board dedicated to all things Interactive Notebooks too!
Make sure you visit Part TWO of my series where I tell you all about how I grade my students’ interactive notebooks and I will show you the rubric that works for me!  Thanks for stopping by!
Do you have any great organization or storage tips that you use for your interactive notebooks?  I’d love to hear from YOU!  Also, feel free to grab the image below and pin it to your pinterest board for future reference!
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59 Comments

  1. Once Upon A Classroom

    This is a fantastic blog post Angie – you definitely have me hooked for Part 2. Thanks so much for the freebies too πŸ™‚ I think the table of contents are a great addition to these notebooks!

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks Erin! I know that once I started with the Table of Contents, it was hugely helpful! I appreciate your feedback!!!

      Reply
  2. Mary Carlson

    This is so helpful. I started using INBs last year and loved them so I planned to use them again. Your post will help me with some of the questions that I had. Thank you for all of your hard work.

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Yay Mary! I'm so glad that I answered some of your questions! I tried so hard to include everything that I could think of when it came to organizing and storing!

      Reply
  3. Whitney Phillips

    I'll be using INBs in my Algebra class. I think these tips are pretty applicable across the board. I'm super excited about the cutting corners tip. Love it!

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks Whitney! It makes me happy to hear you say that this posts applies to the older grades as well! Thanks for your feedback!

      Reply
  4. Taking on Second

    AHHHH! I LOVE these tips! I can't wait for the next part! Thank you for the freebies and the awesome advice!
    Aimee

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks Aimee! Make sure you come back for part two! πŸ™‚ I appreciate your feedback. Enjoy the freebies!

      Reply
  5. Sarah Plum

    Once again, you've hit it out of the park! I have two new teammates this year and I know that — if you're unfamiliar with INB's — it can be kind of intimidating. I love that I now have a clear, concise, and TOTALLY rockstar series to refer them to. πŸ™‚

    Sarah Plum
    There's No Place Like Second Grade

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      You are a total ROCKSTAR supporter of mine! Seriously girl, I appreciate your continued and constant support and sweet words of encouragement! You have no idea how nice it is to read from you!

      Reply
  6. Anna DiGilio

    First off…this post is AMAZING!!!!!! So well put together and informative! I just love how neat and organized it is…but that is a common thread I see throughout your resources! I adore your interactive notebooks! Very well done!!!!

    Hugs
    Anna

    Reply
  7. joalderete

    Thanks for the tips! I did INs for math last year and loved them. I wish I had thought of the bookmark or cutting corners. It would have been a life saver for me!

    Reply
  8. Caterpillar Wings

    Thank you so much for your detailed post about INBs!!!! I bookmarked it so that I can reference it a million times when setting mine up. I tried INBs last year but it got overwhelming and so it didn't go as planned. I am definitely following Tip 9 – prepping! I can't wait for the rest of your posts about INBs! Thanks for the pictures and freebies – I feel like I can do it this year with all your help!
    Susan

    Reply
  9. Miss Case

    This is great! I am looking to start using interactive notebooks in my classroom this year for reading comprehension/grammar skills. Your ideas are very helpful for someone about to start out! I will definitely use your tips…especially the extra pieces envelope- GENIUS! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    Casey
    Miss Case's Classroom

    Reply
  10. Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

    Great post friend! This is amazing. I love the yarn trick and thank you for the freebies. I can't wait to read more!

    Marcy
    Saddle Up For 2nd Grade

    Reply
  11. Creativity to the Core

    I absolutely love these. I've been eyeing them for a LONG time. Now that I'm out of the classroom, I'm going to be adding them to my wish list for next year (or the future!) and recommending them to friends. πŸ™‚ Thank you for these tips! Love them.

    Meredith

    Reply
  12. Michelle Kiger

    Thank you so much! Your products are fantastic and this post (and your future ones) are just what I needed to get "serious" about using INB's in class. Your generosity is much appreciated!

    Reply
  13. Teisha LaCour

    You have done a great job preparing me for using INB in my classroom. This will be my first year using them so I hope all goes well. I will be checking back for Part 2. Thanks for all of your help.

    Reply
  14. Jennifer Reynolds

    Thanks so much for all the set-up and time-saving tips, my friend! I have got to get BUSY! Can't wait to read the rest of the series! Keep up the great work!
    ~Jennifer

    Reply
  15. Kathy, PaperPumpkin

    Hi! Thank you so much for this very helpful post! Wow, you sure did take the mystery out of preparing them! I love to be organized ahead of time, even if it is just in my own brain, so now I know the first few steps to get them ready. I appreciate all of your hard work and attention to detail! Thanks again, kathy

    Reply
  16. Jennifer Holley

    Thank you so much for sharing all of your tips and advice! I have purchased your interactive notebooks and am so excited about implementing them this year, but I was a little unsure about what issues I might encounter. I can't thank you enough for helping me head off trouble at the pass! πŸ™‚ This series will help make my implementation run more smoothly! (Love the table of contents freebie, too!)

    Reply
  17. Carol Erickson

    This is great! I have been dabbling with interactive notebooks this past year and have wanted to make the leap into them completely. My co teacher and I are doing that this year. Yeah! I shared your web site with her and we will be following you to see what you have in store for us next. Thank you so much for the freebies too. I do have one question-where did you find your inspirational posters that you have down the left side of your page? I would love to print a few of them for my classroom.

    Reply
  18. Sue Johnson

    Thank you! I am very excited (and nervous) to start using INB this year. I've talked the whole 2nd grade team into using them, so I want to be as knowledgeable as possible! Your blog is certainly helpful πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Hi Sue! Don't be nervous! Your kids will love them and because of that, you will too! That's so exciting that your entire 2nd grade team will be using INB's! I have convinced my team to use them this year too, so that's awesome! Good luck to you guys! I'd love to hear what you think of them once you are up and rolling!

      Reply
  19. Chelsea ONeal

    This is great! I wonder do you always to the activity whole group? Last year the notebook became part of my math group rotation. I like how organized you have it so I am wondering how to merge both: them using the notebook independently as well as keeping it organized. What is your experience?

    Chelsea
    Kickin It Whole Brain In Texas

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks for stopping by Chelsea! Often times I will do these INB's as a whole group activity BUT I have also pulled these into my math stations as well! I think this year I will start by introducing these INB's in our small groups and maybe after a few weeks of this, I can do more whole group. I think the key is consistent training at the beginning of the year. I will be very picky about going through them in September to make sure they are just the way that I want them to be. You will see more about this in part 2 by the way! πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  20. Just A Primary Girl with Mrs. H

    Girl- these are awesome. I have two of them of yours and love them. Do you ever have these pre-cut by volunteers? At the start of the year my kids are molasses. I was thinking they could help. I also have my early finishers help friends cut that may be behind. They love helping and it takes half the time! πŸ™‚ excited for part two because I'd love to assess them with a project rather than worksheets and observations!

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks so much for your comment and purchases! πŸ™‚ At the beginning of the year, I choose INB pages that are less difficult to assemble. If there is an INB page that I MUST HAVE but involves a lot of cutting, I may have my parent volunteers help out a bit. That being said, my students are usually the ones to do all the work. This is a great job for those early finishers as well! Plus, those early finishers like to help out because often times they receive a brag tag reward for helping out! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  21. Mrs. West

    Great post! I've not used INBs yet, but I'd love to try them out! What would you suggest? Jump right in, or baby steps?

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Hmmm…great question! If it were me, I would incorporate them as it feels comfortable for you and your students. If that means you are doing them once a week, twice a week, whatever works! There's really no right or wrong answer here…that's the beauty of it all! At the beginning of the year I am not doing an INB page every day because I am getting the kids trained in the process. Just like anything I guess…the more time you put in "laying the ground work"…the more successful it will be in the long run!

      Reply
  22. Ana

    Great post! I haven't used these yet, but am debating if I should try them out with my third graders next year. I'm a little nervous, but feel like I could make the things that I need to go in them, it's just letting go to have the students put them together!!???
    Ana
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Hi Ana, thanks for stopping by! I think that INB's are easier than they may seem! Once you get started you will LOVE them. Plus, there are so many great resources out there!

      Reply
  23. Jeanie Humphries

    This post was very helpful. I'm changing from 1st to 3rd grade and I think these will help me and my kiddos this next year. I'm excited to buy these and look over them. Can't wait for part two!

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks for your feedback Jeanie! I'm excited for you to own my INB's! πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  24. A Sunny Day in First Grade

    What a great post!!! I've never tried interactive notebooks, but I have been wanting to try them out! Last night I was looking up how to get them started….your post couldn't have come at a better time!!! πŸ™‚ I LOVE the yarn and cutting corners idea! Thanks for the tips – I can't wait to read more!

    Sarah
    A Sunny Day in First Grade

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks Sarah! I'm glad this was perfect timing for you! I know there are a lot of teachers that are diving into this Interactive Notebook craze so it's nice to hear how helpful this post was for them! As for the yarn and cutting corners…huge time saver, right? As soon as I implemented them, it cut our search-for-a-clean-page time in half! Yay, glad that I could help!

      Reply
  25. Crazy About Second Grade

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thanks for the freebies and wonderful tips and tricks! I am going to be trying these in class this year and this post was sooooo helpful!
    Sandy

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Awesome, Sandy! I'm glad you found this helpful!

      Reply
  26. megan

    Thanks for this great series! I am going to be starting INBs this year in math and science. Your tips and freebies were very helpful!

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      I'm glad that I could help you out some, Megan!

      Reply
  27. Vicki

    These tips are wonderful! I am going to try INBs with my special needs students this year. I may be doing a lot of prepping πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Thanks Vicki! I'd love to hear how it goes for you!!!

      Reply
  28. Cecile

    Thanks for all of your suggestions to help us organize. Thanks also for sharing all of your Freebies.

    Reply
  29. Maria Trabue

    U R AMAZING!!!!
    I love your ideas and can not wait for part DOS!!! I have been using interactive notebooks for a little over 3 years now but quite different than my team….Our Math coach wanted us just to stick labels on the notebooks and have the kids do the problems…well I am the rebel so I decided to try these interactive notebooks FAD. I had a training a while back…MY KIDDOS LOVED IT!!! You totally support my way of doing them and you give me more insight…so first Thank YOU!!! and second HURRY I want to see more…:)
    BTW both of your bundles or in my cart..I hope it supports our new FL CC Standards…

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Hi Maria. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such sweet words! Yes, I totally love these Interactive Notebooks and so do the kids!…all the more reason to continue them! I feel like if the activity is loved by the kids AND it is quality then it's a WIN WIN! I hope you LOVE the bundles as much as I do!!!

      Reply
  30. dana

    I love this post! I am using interactive noetebooks for the first time this year, and your post is very helpful. I do have a question. I notice in the picture from Tip 4 you only number the front of each page. Do you only use the front of each page and if so why? I am excited about using your math interactive notebooks this year. Thank you for all the great feebies in this post, and I look forward to your other tips on this subject. Have a great year! Dana

    Reply
    • Angie Olson

      Hello Dana! Thanks for the great comments. Your question regarding the page numbers for tip #4 I will be answering in my part 2 of this INB series. Yes, I do only write the page numbers on the right side and there is a reason that I do that. πŸ™‚ Stay tuned…

      Reply
  31. Learning by Hart

    thank you for this post! I started interactive notebooks last year but ended up abandoning them halfway through the year because I ran out of time and ideas for how to organize and use them! But your post is so helpful and I've just added all your notebooks to my TpT cart! I can't wait for the next post!

    Reply
  32. Kelly M

    Love this post!!!! So helpful & Thanks SO much for the fabulous Freebies to get me started!!

    Reply
  33. Mrs. Yazzie's Classroom News

    Thanks for the information and freebies! I'm a drippy glue composition book kinda gal. πŸ™‚ We chant "one, two, that's enough glue" and dot the corners. But of course, there's always one or two students who interpret a dot to mean a puddle. πŸ™‚ It just so happens that we do our math journals right before transitioning away from our tables, so to be on the safe side, we leave them open to dry and then put them away later when we return to our work tables. And like you, my students keep their math journals in group tubs. I am truly looking forward to you next posts! Thank you.

    Reply
  34. Bobbie Jo Rocheford

    These are awesome tips! I have been using interactive notebooks for years and love some of these ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  35. First Grade by the Sea

    Thank you so much for your tips! I can't wait to put them to use this year. I began using INB's last year and got better at it as the year went on. I definitely saw the value and loved it when my Firsties would pull out the notebook to look up something. Definitely a table of contents would be helpful. Planning and organization is a must and I never thought of building a completed binder to help with my planning and having a ready made sample. Thanks for the freebies, great time saver. Can't wait to read the rest of your series.
    Pauline @ First Grade by the Sea

    Reply
  36. Vickie Keesee

    Love the interactive notebook tabs! Have you every considered creating a page of blank tabs for customization? Thanks!

    Reply
  37. Elena Burgess

    I have a quick question. When you say in tip 9 to prep the INB pages and keep in a binder, is this just to show the students what the finished product should like and how the different pieces should be folded? Thanks for this! I'm excited to try these in my second grade classroom.

    Reply
  38. Laurie Newbigging

    I'm thinking of incorporating INB into math this year and was wondering how many pages are your spiral notebooks? Thanks!

    Reply

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Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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