Organizing Journals with Tabs

I’m linking up with Ladybug’s Teacher Files and Fun in Room 4B for their Optimum Organization linky.  It’s pretty ironic that I would have an organization tip because I really try to be organized but it doesn’t come easily to me. 

For years I’ve used interactive math journals in my classroom.  I’m hooked and I’m sure I’ll use them forever more.  My students are encouraged to use their journals as a reference.  I mean, that’s why we put all the effort into them, right?? But the kids sometimes have trouble finding what they need when they need it.  We put so much into our journals that the table of contents gets overwhelming even for me!  The picture below shows just part of last year’s table of contents.  See what I mean?

For this next school year, I’m going to try something a little different.  I decided I would divide my math journal into sections with a separate table of contents for each section.  I’ve done something similar with our writing journals in the past.  Here’s the prototype I’ve been working on.

The table of contents is less overwhelming.  Kids shouldn’t have a problem skimming and finding what they need.

One problem I think I’m going to run into is that many kids aren’t going to know which section to look in.  I added details to the section headers to help out.  Underneath “Measurement” I included all the topics we cover.  I also plan to reinforce which category each skill falls into as I teach the skill.

So far I’m happy with my prototype and I’m looking forward to trying this out.  Have any of you ever sectioned off a math journal?  How did it work out?

For those of you who are interested in using tabs, I’m offering a FLASH FREEBIE for this set from my TpT store.  This is a zip file that includes an editable pdf file and a Word doc.  Hurry over before time runs out.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Hey Lauren - I print the tabs on regular color copy paper.


  2. LOVE this! Thank you for sharing! :)

    First Grade Fancies

  3. These are awesome! Thank you :)

    Teach on a Limb

  4. Love it! As I was reading I was telling myself, "I'm adding those to the TPT cart right now!" but I got it just in time! Thank you so much! I'm teaching all the subjects for the first time next year and I'm a little nervous/excited. This will be a huge help!

    Teaching with a Touch of Twang

  5. I section off my math journal by units and it worked fabulously! Each unit starts with an I Can statement page for that unit printed on colored paper and our anchor charts follow on white paper or notebook paper. We use a 3-ring binder that travels with the student to each class. We are departmentalized.

    Melissa Boyd

  6. This is an excellent idea and if I were teaching 5th grade science again I would definitely use this idea. Genius...:) Don;t think I'll be able to use it in kinder, but I will spread the word to my upper grade level teacher friends!

    Blessings, Vicky
    Keep Calm & Imagine

  7. Great idea! We are starting math notebooks at my school next year and I will keep thus in mind.
    Tropical Teacher

  8. I love your label on the front. Anyway you want to share that or put it in your store?

  9. I forgot to include the labels for each section as well.

  10. Mrs. Boyd - Thanks for sharing! I'm glad to hear that it works.

    Overachiever - I'll see what I can do. Let me check the Terms of Use for the graphics and organize my file so it makes sense.

  11. Love, love, love this idea!!! I used math journals with my kiddos last year, and the table of contents was a little overwhelming. This is so much more organized. Thanks for sharing! I had to pin this!

  12. I certainly hope this new method works for you. We all know how big of a task it is to try and tame the growing stack of papers, so I commend you for continuously trying new techniques to accomplish this. Good luck and thank you!
    Ruby @ Williams Data Management