In the Kindergarten thru 2nd grade years, I prefer to keep academic work fairly relaxed and informal. So instead using a math textbook, my 6y.o. son and I have created a math journal. It’s just a simple, inexpensive composition book that we use to record our math experiences.
This is working out especially well for us because my math goals for my son are fairly simple, but technically span more than one grade level. I can cover these simple goals without purchasing multiple math textbooks.
One nice thing about a math journal is that it is easy to make use of fun printables and thematic materials. I keep an eye out for seasonal printables or fun math activities that fit the theme or goal we working on. Printables are easily trimmed and pasted into our journal. If we have been learning about rocks or seeds or planets, we can include that in some fashion in our math journal. I feel like this has truly personalized our math learning and reinforced the idea that math is all around us.
What do we put in the math journal? Anything and everything math-related. Once my son found a tall weed in the yard and he wondered out loud how ‘long’ it was. Wow, a perfect math journal activity! An opportunity to practice non-standard measurement with linking cubes. Or time to learn to use a ruler. We could survey the family on their estimates before we take the measurements and graph their answers. All of this can be recorded in our journal with pictures and drawings and notes.
Magazine pictures that show math concepts, silly math games that we have made up, grids/graphs to use with pattern blocks or other math manipulatives, and dictations/narrations that reflect our math thoughts. Any kind of math thinking goes in the journal.
My original plan was to spend only one year using a math journal, but I think we will continue on for another year. Even as we eventually transition into using a math textbook, a journal can still be used as a supplement to add variety and keep interest high.