Interactive Vocabulary Notebooks

Many of us are headed back to school this week, hopefully rested and ready for another great year of teaching. Have you thought about a plan for your vocabulary curriculum? It’s not too late to implement some new systems in your room this year. There are low investment ways to teach vocabulary and have a high success rate! It’s important to hit the ground running as early as possible. Every day is a good day for word learning!


This year our Vermont summer brought us few great beach days, however it did bring many guilt-free hours to cozy up on the couch with a good book or a brainstorming notebook. I finally had uninterrupted time to research ways to help my students keep better records of new words they learn throughout the year. Furthermore, I am always looking for ways to make our classroom Word Wall more personalized. It is not realistic to ask kids to look up every single word they don’t know within a chapter book. This is too time consuming and disrupts the flow of the story. After much thought, I have decided to implement interactive vocabulary notebooks.

In the past I had introduced new vocabulary words and had students practice their learning using word webs and different verbal and written activities. However, when I had students use worksheets as a means of recording, the loose paper would get lost or sent home at the end of the week. When children needed to recall the definition of a past word of the week they didn’t have a way to go back to their notes.

Problem solved! Each student’s interactive notebook will stay in our classroom all year. This will help kids stay organized, and give them a place to keep a running record of words we learn together. In addition, to make our classroom word learning more personalized, students can keep track of challenging words they come across in their own reading and add them to their interactive notebooks.

What is an interactive vocabulary notebook?

A student-centered, personalized notebook for recording, defining and connecting with vocabulary words. Interactive notebooks usually include pages that flip open and out, almost like a “pop-up” card. This engagement with the notebook page adds a great tactile element for students. 

What are the benefits?

An interactive notebook allows students to organize information and deeply learn the meaning(s) of each word. These notebooks provide students with outlined pages expecting them to use webs, drawings, stories, and personal connections when writing about each vocabulary word. Alongside your classroom Word Wall, these notebooks are great learning tools! Plus, interactive notebooks can be modified for any grade level.

What do interactive vocabulary notebooks look like?

Here is what interactive vocabulary notebooks will look like in my classroom. I teach one word per week, planning a different themed activity each day. Students need lots of practice in order to really master the meaning of a word! We will complete page one together during Monday’s morning meeting. Students will complete page two the next day. They are allowed to work with a partner to brainstorm story ideas, however they each need to complete their own notebook page.

Interactive vocabulary notebook including definition, examples, opposites, non-examples and using the word in a sentence.
Interactive Vocabulary Notebook – Page 1
Interactive vocabulary notebook including definition, examples, opposites, non-examples and using the word in a sentence.
Interactive Vocabulary Notebook – Page 1, Part 2
Interactive vocabulary notebook page including definition, drawing a picture of the word and writing a short story themed around the word of the week,
Interactive Vocabulary Notebook – Page 2

I created my own template for our interactive vocabulary notebooks that I would love you to use too. A printable Google Doc version with directions can be found here. Feel free to share with your colleagues too!

How can I easily implement interactive notebooks this year?

All you need is a spiral notebook for each student. If you already use a notebook for spelling, think about making it a Word Study notebook and using half for vocabulary. Students will only need 8-10 minutes each day to complete their notebook assignment. Once you introduce each activity and put the routine in place, it’s an easy assignment to complete first thing in the morning.

What words should I teach to begin the school year?

To begin each school year I first teach five words related to Growth Mindset. This is an easy way to incorporate vocabulary learning into your community building activities. For more specific information about this teaching, check out my Words to Promote Growth Mindset post by clicking here.

As the school year progresses I continue to teach at least one character trait word per week. I begin by using a grade-level word list created by Patrick Manyak, a professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin. To see more about character trait vocabulary, click here. Once I complete Manyak’s list I move away from character trait words and onto other Tier II vocabulary. Of course, it’s important to always allow students to submit requests for the word of the week!

What are some other word learning activities I can easily implement each week?

Whether you choose to implement the interactive vocabulary notebooks or not, definitely check out my Daily Vocab Activities page by clicking here. On this page you will find ways to involve partner talk, creative writing, and much more into your vocabulary teaching.

Looking for more? I also found these great vocabulary interactive notebook examples:

  • Have you always wanted to blend vocabulary learning into your science curriculum? Check out this science themed interactive vocabulary notebook – click here. This notebook could easily be used for other content areas too! Created by Sally Creel, K-5 Science Supervisor, Cobb County Schools.
  • Are you trying to create a paperless classroom? Check out this digital interactive vocabulary notebook – click here. This is best for engaging middle or high school students. Created by Danielle Knight.
  • Do you teach Greek and Latin roots? This interactive notebook looks very engaging and is very creative – click here! Created by Erin Cobb at

If you have created or found other interactive notebook resources, please share the link in the comments!

Published by Liz Siracusa (Vocabulicious)

* Elementary Educator * Instructional Literacy Coach * Vocabulary Lover * The history behind Vocabulicious is simple - I love to help students growth their vocabulary, and I want to help YOU make your classroom a word conscious environment. I’m excited to share all of the vocabulary activities I have had success with throughout the years, plus great mentor texts to use for interactive read alouds. I live in Burlington, Vermont and enjoy hiking, biking and running!

2 thoughts on “Interactive Vocabulary Notebooks

  1. Thanks for sharing, Liz! There are so many great ideas in this post and you have shared so many resources to make it super easy to get started on ramping up vocabulary instruction.

    Liked by 1 person

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