Nicole sent me an email with a great topic to discuss here at The Notebooking Fairy. Thanks, Nicole!
Q: How do you use notebooking in math?
I am living in Belgium and I am homeschooling my 3rd grader. I just read your ebook Notebooking Success and want to thank you. It’s lovely and has some very good points. But I am still puzzled how notebook about math. We need to learn time tables now. But I hate rote memorization. This is where notebooking should come into place, but I can’t imagine how. Do you have some hints for me?
A: With math you want to consider alternate ways to represent the facts.
You can certainly “just” copy the math facts, for example making your own multiplication charts. But that borders on the rote memorization that you are not a fan of (I’m not either). So think of additional ways to demonstrate math facts in math notebooks:
- with words,
- through illustrations,
- with graphic organizers.
Multiplication is fairly easy to represent with illustrations. Let’s take 4 x 5=20 as an example. Draw four plates of five carrot sticks each. Actually draw the plates with carrot sticks (on them). Then note the addition below the plates 4+4+4+4+4=20 or 4×5=20.
Or use words to explain the facts, “Four plates of five carrot sticks each would be four plus four plus four plus four plus four. A simple way to say that is four times five which is twenty.” Obviously, you don’t want to dictate what your child writes. Help her to verbalize it after you give her some other examples. Then ask her to write it down.
Adjust your illustrations and word problems with things that your child can relate to. In America it may be a six pack of chicken nuggets for the x6 facts. If the number matches the object in some way, all the better (legs on a cat for the x4 facts, legs on an octopus for x8 facts). But it can be anything — cookies, pencils, bicycles, birds, etc. Let your child select the objects to draw, and be sure to allow silliness. Humor goes a long way towards motivating children. So if she wants to draw three headed monsters, go for it!
When working with large numbers, you may want to offer a shortcut with rubber stamps or stickers to make the task easier. After all, who wants to draw 56 carrot sticks for the math fact 7×8?
If you would like more examples of math notebooking, see this Flickr set of photos from my daughter’s math notebook.
Readers, do you have any other suggestions for math notebooking? Please share them in a comment.