Open Ended Math Journal Prompts- Differentiation, Fast Finishers, and Enrichment

Rated 4.73 out of 5, based on 266 reviews
266 Ratings
Beyond Traditional Math
Grade Levels
2nd - 4th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
135 pages
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Beyond Traditional Math

What educators are saying

I used this resource to help me implement math centers. It saved me a lot of time, and I loved how it got students thinking more deeply about math.
Great resource for advanced 2nd graders. Helped me differentiate without recreating the wheel. Very pleased.


This math journal just needs to be printed for instant differentiation, giving you open ended math investigations. You will have activities for students who have already mastered what you've taught (enrichment), or for early finishers. The best part is there is no prep, just print and you're ready to go. These are also fantastic prompts to promote student to student discourse.

Open ended problems encourage students to think outside the box, find multiple answers, and to challenge themselves. I've used these prompts for years to promote math talk in the classroom, and finally put them all together into a large document, organized by the math strands. There are 125 prompts (25 in each strand) for a years worth of work! The prompts have been aligned to the third and fourth grade Common Core State Standards in the table of contents. In addition, they could be used as a review or as an intervention activity for struggling fifth graders.

The strands covered include:

* Number and Operations

* Geometry

* Measurement

* Algebra

* Data Analysis and Probability

1. What is open ended math journaling?

Math journaling is a great way to get students to write to explain their thinking. Each entry in the journal is an open ended question, focused on a specific strand of mathematics.

Open ended questions are used to help students explain their thinking, meaning that more than one answer could work. That is why this type of math journaling is perfect for differentiating in your classroom.

It is very important to encourage multiple answers, and to expect students to challenge themselves with their thinking. When you build in share time, this happens naturally.

2. How and when should I use this journal?

There are many ways that you could use this type of activity as a(n):

  1. activity for gifted leaners.
  2. center activity.
  3. writing lesson for making bullets, lists or to work on the trait of organization.
  4. early finisher activity.
  5. math lesson warm ups.
  6. math talk exercise (building in share time can be very powerful).
  7. formative assessment.
  8. small group work for guided math.
  9. homework for students to share with parents/family members

There are so many ways to use this activity, especially since it differentiates so naturally!

3. Tips for preparing the journal:

I like to print this entire book back to back and then bind it. That way the students can use it all year, and it will be in a more durable format so that students can flip through it. If this is not possible, you could always print them as you need them. All of the pages have one problem on them with workspace underneath it so that students feel compelled to write and/or draw freely!

The prompts could also be projected for the entire class to see.

I have also written the prompt on an easel page (as a center) to encourage students to solve it, and record their thinking to promote math talk in the classroom.

In the preview, you can see sample problems in each strand!

If you like this type of thinking, check out:

Open Ended Word Problem: FREE Doggy Dilemma

Open Ended Word Problems (My best seller!)

Open Ended Problems - Set 2

Holiday Version - On Stage! Open Ended Performance Task

Presidential Birthday Statisticians: Open Ended Performance Task

Design a Dream Bedroom: Open Ended Performance Task

Total Pages
135 pages
Answer Key
Does not apply
Teaching Duration
1 Year
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.
Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units-whole numbers, halves, or quarters.
Recognize area as an attribute of plane figures and understand concepts of area measurement.
A square with side length 1 unit, called “a unit square,” is said to have “one square unit” of area, and can be used to measure area.
Relate area to the operations of multiplication and addition.


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