Interactive Vocabulary Notebooks

An example of an Interactive Vocabulary Notebook asking students to give the definition and draw a picture of the word.

How do you help students keep track of new words they learn throughout the year? It’s never too late to implement some new systems in your classroom. Today, I’m going to share a low investment way to teach vocabulary and have a high success rate! No matter what time of year it is, every day is a good day for word learning. So, let’s get started!

Over the past few years, I’ve taken a lot of 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.

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 they needed to recall the definition of a past word of the week, they didn’t have a way to go back to their notes.

After much thought, I decided to implement interactive vocabulary notebooks. 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.

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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” book. 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

👀 Looking for this Interactive Notebook Template?

  • 2 Simple interactive vocabulary notebook templates
  • Best for upper elementary
  • Adaptable for any vocabulary word
  • All pages available in color and black & white

Looking for some activities outside of students’ notebooks? Check out these 7 Simple Word Web Graphic Organizers for your upper elementary or middle school classroom!

  • 5 Word Web Graphic Organizers
  • 2 Black Word Web Templates
  • All pages available in color and black & white

How can I easily implement Interactive Notebooks ASAP?

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 kick off my vocabulary curriculum?

To kick off word learning each year, I 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 and to download this free poster, check out my Words to Promote Growth Mindset post.

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 my character trait vocabulary teaching, hop over to my Easy Ways to Teach Character Trait Vocabulary post.

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!

Looking to go digital and ditch the paper notebooks?

Have no fear, I have you techie word lovers covered too 😉! Save some trees and make word learning digital with this downloadable, editable Google Slide Interactive Notebook.

Head over to my Digital Interactive Vocabulary Notebooks post to learn more!

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If you have created or found other interactive notebook resources, please share any ideas, tips and tricks in the comments!

As always, it’s been a pleasure. Until next time, make today meaningful, friends 💕.


Learn more about Interactive Notebooks from these fantastic educators:

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!

3 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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