The Language of Maths

Last year I introduced Maths Journals in my classroom after seeing the success of them on Kristi’s blog. Maths Journals have become the most effective way of capturing the language the children use in maths and a great way for them to show what they know.

Book Creator.


This year I have used Book Creator for our Maths Journals. Book Creator does exactly that. It creates books on iPads. When we think about book creating we always jump in to English and making multi-modal texts. So to use Book Creator to journal in Maths is a great way to use the app in a different context! Download Book Creator from the AppStore here.


Children create their own Maths Journal book on an iPad in Book Creator. They make the front cover of their book a photograph of them and write their name with the pen tool. This means that they can easily find their book from the scrolling menu when they next open Book Creator on that iPad. The books do not sync across all of the iPads so they need to use the same iPad every time they journal.

Children journal once a week in their independent maths time when we have the iPads in the classroom. This is during our maths focus time in the week. Children have their maths input, a maths activity planned for them by an adult and adults observe them with a maths focus too.

When I introduce Maths Journals in January, it is to around 16 children who are showing good skills in using Book Creator already. Other children more time to learn the Book Creator skills necessary to independently journal so they will use Pic Collage in other adult led activities to help develop these skills. They will journal later in the year when these skills are secure.

How to Journal.

Children are asked to journal 3 pages each week. A good page will have a photograph of the resources they used, some numbers written using the pen tool and a sound recording explaining their mathematical thinking. It is the sound recording that we find most beneficial for our own assessments, lots of mathematical language is captured right there in their maths exploration. In other independent activities, children would be questioned by the adult or asked to repeat what they did if they come to show you. Maths Journalling in completely independently and they capture their talk for you. That means that the adult talk after their exploration is focused on what’s next rather than what happened. Feedback jumps immediately in to their next steps because you have seen and heard what they already know.

What to Journal.

I ask the children to journal 3 pages about the learning intention of the week. So in an addition week they would select resources and show me what they know about addition. In a shape week they would journal something about shapes.


The gallery below shows screen shots from one child’s Maths Journal.

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You will see purple pen on one of these examples. This demonstrates feedback to marking in our work. So from this example the child showed their subtraction work to me and I noticed they had said ‘take away’ in their voice recording and recorded the correct answer but using the pen tool they had written +. They went away and used the purple pen tool to make this a -.

The beauty of Maths Journalling is the link between the real, concrete resources we all have and the real-time capturing of this investigative play in a digital format. All aspects of the mathematical thinking is captured in real-time in a media rich format which also focuses and motivates the play.

Below a video export from Book Creator of this book. It contains the audio for each page. Sharing the book as a video from the Book Creator app is a great way to share the work with parents and save the work on your school network for use elsewhere.

Book Creator Skills

This could be a blog post on it’s own but I’ll keep it specific to how Book Creator works and what tools I teach to the children for this part. For more on the long term plan of developing Book Creator skills in Foundation 2, see this post here. Book Creator is wonderfully visual and requires very little reading ability as it is symbol based with one word text labels.


The Scrolling Menu.

This is where all of your books are. Swipe right and left to view your existing books and open the book you want to work on. Or tap ‘new book’ top left to create a new book!


New Book.

Select a template. I always advise my kids to pick square for Maths Journals as it crops their photographs for this page in a neater way.



This is where they need to add a selfie and write their name! This page is what is displayed in your scrolling menu so they will easily identify their book each time they journal as they see their face and name.


Adding content to pages.

Tap the + button top right. This gives a menu of all of the media types you can add to a page. In Foundation 2 I teach ‘camera’, ‘pen’ and ‘sound’ as options.

Our Key Stage 1 children will then progress to typing and use ‘Text’ in their books. In Key Stage 2 children will be taught to use ‘Photos’ which opens up the iPad’s camera roll so they can access other saved media (photos and videos). These may have been created in other apps and exported for use in Book Creator or be saved internet searches on Safari.

Press the arrow on the right for the next page. Use the + top right to insert a photograph of the play, the pen tool to write the numbers and the sound option to record the maths talk.

Resources for Getting Started or for More Ideas.

Download Book Creator from the AppStore here.

To help you get started with Maths Journals or for more ideas if you have started Maths Journals you can subscribe to my free ‘Lessons for the Classroom’ course of mine which Apple published in 2015.

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To subscribe to my Lesson for the Classroom “We’re Going on a Shape Hunt” and begin using these tools in your classroom, visit ADEs on iTunes U from your Mac or iPad.

4 thoughts on “The Language of Maths

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