Math Tools for Reference!


Here is a fun way to motivate students in a math journal or math workbook!  As you teach a new concept or unit of study, introduce the reference tools that students can use to be successful.

I can’t tell you how many times my students got up to grab a math tool from around the room during guided math.  As one group finished their work and went on to their next activity, the next would be trying to hunt down the reference tools.  I decided that I wanted all my students to have access to everything in their own little tool tubs safe inside their journal covers!


To kick off math journals this year I will introduce the first section of the math journal as the reference section.  I will introduce the tools as needed only so we don’t get overwhelmed and lose ourselves in the midst of tantalizing math tools!


The tools are geared towards K-2 students but truly hit the target for first and second grade.

Here’s an example of the math tools in the inside cover of a math workbook.

When students feel reluctant or need a little help, these tools will be so handy!



Print on Astrobrights paper like I did to really make it pop!
To check it out for yourself click the picture!


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  1. When there is something so bulky in their notebooks, does it impact their ability to write comfortably in the book? I want to add more foldables and "bumpy" items in our notebooks next year, but I have been wondering how it will impact their interactions and/or note taking.

    1. Hello! Great question! I agree having bulk is not great but I think having a reference section where larger items are glued securely will not be an issue. The only item that would not lie flat would be the clock. Perhaps the bucket of tools would be best at the back end of the book so it would have a thick layer of pages between the writing and the tools. 🙂

  2. Hey Reagan! I just love reading your blogs and using your ideas and products in my classroom! I have been studying your math journals for a while. I teach second and I just can't decide if they are appropriate for second graders. Is there a chance you will be making them for second grade? Or what are your thoughts? Oh by the way, I love this math tool idea! I will definitely be buying this:) -Alex

  3. This is a great idea! I'm a Junior High Special Education Teacher and this will be a great resource for my students. Last year was my first year using Interactive Math Notebooks and this resource will be a great addition for next year!

  4. I bought these math tools and can't wait to use them. Do you glue them into your math journal or do you keep them in the bucket in front/back the journal? I am not sure which would work best and since you have used them before, I would love to hear what you do. Also, what do you glue the bucket down with so it doesn't fall off? Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Beautiful! Math is beautiful and so are your ideas in the Math tool bucket. I absolutely, positively LOVE it!! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Love this math tool! It works wonders with my class 🙂 Thanks! By any chance could you please provide the name of the math workbook shown in the above pictures please? I would really appreciate it! Thanks

  7. This is a great tool, especially doing quarantine season!
    Do you have the tub tool template? I have already purchased the Math tools via TPT but was sad the tub pocket template wasn’t included, could you advised where is the link and do you have a money version with the new GBP currency?