# Easy, Low-cost Math Journals

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In these days of thin or nonexistent school budgets for classroom supplies, it's important to economize wherever we can. Here is a way for teachers to make their own functional math journals with regular supplies from their classroom, or if they are using their own money, to do it less expensively.

Teachers know that math journals are important for students to explore their thinking and activate their metacognition. When I have used them in my classes, students have written everything from "I love math" to the latest times table they have learned. Many resources on the web exist about how to make the best use of these journals. One such link can be found at http://math.about.com/library/weekly/aa123001a.htm

Writing about math will make students more aware of their thinking processes and better at problem solving or identifying where they are stuck. They can provide valuable insight for the teachers who want to help them.

### Teacher Notes

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## Step 1: Materials

These journals need only three things to begin.
• Card stock
• Graph paper
• Pamphlet stapler
I found my graph paper in pads at the local Goodwill store. This is one way to economize. It's easier if you can by it in packs, though, since the way I had them, I have to tear each sheet off before using it in the book.

Graph paper is important because it offers many types of support for students, from lining up their addition or subtraction to being able to draw accurate geometric models or graphs.

## Step 2: Prepare Materials

Decide how thick you want each journal to be. I made mine ten sheets thick. This makes 40 sides for the students to use, and it's not too thick to staple. You can make more later if you wish.

Prepare the sheets and card stock cover.

## Step 3: Fold and Staple

Carefully fold the stack in half and crease firmly. If you are folding larger quantities of paper, you may want to keep to about 10 sheets at a time and do the cover separately. Then join them together into the book.

Now use the pamphlet stapler to make two staples on the cover.

## Step 4: Decoration

Now it's time for decoration. The easiest thing might be to pre-print covers for your students and have them fill in their names. I like to give my students creative license to decorate their own covers, since they love to draw.

This cover was made with markers, stamps and colored pencils.

Remember to use these in math class every day! They can be a great way to challenge students who finish a math assignment early.