Math Notebooks in the Primary Grades

Blog Posts, Math, Math Instruction

Written by: Angie Olson

Math notebooks can be an amazing math tool in the primary grades.  They are interactive, engaging, and hands-on but also serve as the perfect portfolio to showcase a students’ learning and understanding of the math skills throughout the year.

After using math notebooks with success, I’ve decided to compile a list of MUST-KNOWS that you can quickly read through to decide if math notebooks are JUST RIGHT for you.

  • They can be composition or spiral notebooks-I prefer spiral
  • Worried about the pages coming out of the spiral notebook?  Store them in tubs, not desks
  • Tie a piece of yarn to the top of the notebook, it’s a great “bookmark”
  • Tape a ziplock bag or manilla envelope to the back of the notebook to store the pieces that need to be finished
  • Use activities that are easy to cut (straight lines)
  • When creating anchor charts during whole group lessons, have your students create a mini version of the anchor chart in their notebook
  • Great tool for turn and talks-get kids talking about math and how they understand the skill
  • Glue sponges are great for math notebooks-say good bye to lost glue caps-this post provides directions of how to make these
  • Effective activity option for the teacher table during math centers
  • Printed or real manipulatives are great tools to use with math notebook activities
  • Hands-on learning is essential-the flip flaps, spinners, pockets, and foldable provide this hands-on learning experience
  • Free math notebook activities are a great starting point-download these and give them a try-grab 35 pages of free resources here
  • Easily differentiated-provide support or extend their learning with these type of activities
  • Students can refer back, have discussions, and build upon their learning with math notebooks
  • Math notebooks can be spot checked or corrected, your preference.
  • Students enjoy them!
  • If you don’t want students spending any time during the math block cutting, assign the cutting for morning work and have the students store their pieces in the bag/envelope at the back of the notebook
  • Don’t stress about things being “cute”- it’s more about the content than the presentation.  Allow your students to jot down notes that help them understand the concept.
  • Sticky notes can be an easy addition to notebooks for sample problems, key points, or anything that should stand out on the page
  • Use a display model of how the activity should look.  Store the examples in a binder so you can pull and use for years to come
  • Maximize the use of both the input and output sides of the notebook-want to know more about input vs output, click here
  • Worksheets can also be added to math notebooks by cutting down the edges to fit the notebook

If math notebooks are something you want to use in your classroom, you can check out these year-long units for first and second grade.

1st Grade Math Notebook Bundle

2nd Grade Math Notebook Bundle

Grab your free math notebook activities here!

Feel free to use the image below to pin this post to your Pinterest board!



  1. Kathy

    Do you have Fourth grade math notebooks?

    • Angie Olson

      Thank you for asking. No I do not have them at this time.
      Thank You Kathy!

  2. lfore

    On our 2nd grade blog group I have given my name and email to receive the free 2nd grade task cards but nothing is showing up for me in my email..even in spam! Can you send them to me?

    • Angie Olson

      Hi Lisa, Thank you for your message. You can sign up again for these task cards at
      Make sure you confirm the confirmation email to get your free file!



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Welcome, I’m Angie!

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

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