Interactive Notebooks In the Primary Classroom

I have received so many questions about how to implement and use interactive notebooks in a primary classroom. I thought I would share some tips and tricks I have learned in my own second grade classroom. If you want more information on how to SET UP your notebooks, you can read about it HERE.

These are my own personal experiences. The strategies I share may not work in every classroom. Please use this information to help you get started using interactive notebooks in your own classroom. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why Use Interactive Notebooks?
Interactive notebooks are an amazing way to reinforce skills taught. They serve as a reference for students throughout the year, as well as years to come. I love the versatility of the notebooks. They can be used as whole group instruction, in centers, small group work, independent practice and even for a quick assessment.

How Do I Get Started?
You have to find the resource(s) that works for you. My first attempt at interactive notebooks was not a success. It was frustrating beyond belief. I wanted to buy into the concept. I thought I had researched the best resources, but I was wrong.  The resource I was using wasn't working for me and my students. I also didn't feel organized with the process. Therefore, it was a struggle to implement and I was feeling defeated. However, I stuck with it and, BAM, the following year success started to happen!

In order for the interactive notebook process to work in my classroom, I had to take small steps. I started with ONE subject only- MATH! I have since expanded interactive notebooking into language arts. However, initially I chose a subject I was comfortable with, which happened to be math. 
I created my own resource, that I felt was organized in a clear and concise way. I needed visuals! It needed to be Common Core aligned and work in conjunction with what I was already teaching in my classroom. These things made it easier to implement.

I use my interactive notebooks as follow up to a lesson I have already taught. For example, I have been teaching addition strategies for the last two weeks. We just finished learning about "making 10" on Wednesday. On Friday, I had the students work with that concept in their notebooks (see below). While they are working, I can pull students for review if necessary. I can also informally assess their skills as I walk around. If students don't finish their notebook activities, I usually have them finish it for warm up the next morning or they can take it home to complete.

I have created a FREEBIE sampler of 3 different activities, so you can get an idea of the type of activities my kids are required to complete. These pages address Operations and Algebraic Thinking 1.1, 1.2, 2.1 and 2.2.  They are also great review for the beginning of the year of third grade. (My grade specific interactive notebooks have the standard numbers at the top as well).
Each page has an "I can" statement at the top of the page and a definition of terms at the bottom of the page. Both get glued into each student's interactive notebook. 

Keeping the pages simple is key for the primary classroom. Minimal cutting and pasting is helpful too. 

The problem solving pages are my favorite. I love how the students have to explain their answer in many different ways. They have to show their work through pictures, numbers and words. I always tell my students, "I don't care what the answer is. I care about HOW you got the answer." They are forced to explain their thought process.

How Do You Find the Time?
This is not always an easy thing to do. The notebook activities take longer to complete at the beginning of the year. Don't get frustrated. Stick with it. Your students will catch on. If you use math centers, this is a perfect time for the notebook activities. Many of my students finish their pages during warm up time in the morning, as well. Be flexible and open to finding a time that works in your classroom. Everyone's schedules are different.

I hope these ideas help inspire you to make interactive notebooks part of our curriculum! Good luck!


  1. I started math notebooks in the middle of last year and plan to use them again this year. I am working through the challenges and I appreciate your thoughts.

  2. Thanks for sharing your ideas and the bonus freebie!