Vocabulary Notebooks

I am SO excited for my vocabulary notebooks this year! They are, without a doubt, my favorite thing that I have created or used in my classroom.

In the past, my team used Michael Clay Thompson's Building Language in our language arts block. I adore this man and his teachings. I have been to multiple sessions of his trainings. He is so passionate about what he teaches. If you haven't heard of him, here is a YouTube video of some of his beliefs concerning literature and grammar. I have a huge crush on him.... I know, I'm creepy. Clearly I have a thing for older men with a passion for literature. He makes a great point that kids need to begin in early elementary school to encounter serious, academic words. He explains that if a child knows the word "tyrannosaurus rex," it is ridiculous that they are not taught how to interpret or decipher a word like "serene." Here is his website if you'd like more information or are interested in some of his works.

I created an engaging, hands-on, and informative Vocabulary Notebook, and I offer it on Teachers Pay Teachers. Feel free to take a peek at it here! All you need for this is a notebook for each of your kids. I use a spiral for my kiddos.

The product has step-by-step instructions so you can easily make this part of your language arts block. What I love is that after the initial setup and explanation to the kids how to do each of the "days," they can do it all by themselves. It is perfect while you are meeting at your small table with groups, the kids are independent and learning on their own. There's a beginning section of the notebook complete with vocabulary Frayer Models so that the kids truly understand what morphology is.

We switch out our Vocabulary and Word Study. So one week of word study, one week of Vocabulary.

MONDAY: Do vocabulary word sort. Highlight prefixes/suffixes/roots of the week.
TUESDAY: Morpheme Illustration
WEDNESDAY: Dictionary Detectives! Kids get dictionary practice and must look up five of the words of the week and write their definitions and page numbers.
THURSDAY: Make flashcards for words and do Sentence Scribes.
FRIDAY: Cumulative "vocab check."

MONDAY: For example, the morphemes of the week were "vis" and "vid." I choose two roots that mean the same thing. The words are sorted in the graphic organizer, then the kids highlight the morpheme of the week. Okay, I don't know why there are explanation marks after the vis and vid.... SO EXCITING! Don't worry, I have edited them in the actual product tee hee. It made my kids giggle though!

TUESDAY: Morpheme Illustration! In their Vocab Notebooks, the kiddos write each of the morphemes of the week. They also write each of the words, and draw pictures to illustrate each one. For example, the Constitution for the word preamble, rain for a forecast, and an eye for foresee. Pictures and visuals are one of the best for creating memories! This is definitely the students' favorite day. How funny is that second journal?? "I am dehydrated after PE. Just like I am at the exact moment I am writing this." My students are so sassy this year, they seriously make my day.

 WEDNESDAY: Dictionary Detectives. Kids find out the meaning of the word, citing both guide words and page number for proof that they found the word! Dictionary work and guide words is a skill that third-graders are still learning and working on, so this can be challenging for some of them. Sometimes I have the struggling kiddos do this in partners. How cute is the detective clip art??? I am such a clip art addict. I love cutesy clip art, but I think this notebook is more suited toward older kids, so I had to put a halt on my usual "adorable children smiling" clip art.

THURSDAY: Sentence Scribes. Kiddos make sentences with their words of the week! Easy, fun, and reinforces the idea of where the prefix/root/suffix is located.

FRIDAY: Cumulative vocab quick check! The morphemes of the week are added to all the previously studied morphemes. The quiz on week 12 is realllyyyyy long, but the first couple of weeks are short and sweet. I have a Quizlet that the kids log on to in order to study.

My fave aspect of this notebook is the cumulative vocab quick check at the end. After a few weeks, the kids are shocked to realize how many morphemes they learned in such a small amount of time. Breaking it down into small, organized chunks does wonders for the kids' memorization and understanding.

Again, I love this. And I truly want you to love it too and try it out. I am so passionate about this creation, and my students' vocabulary grows tremendously over the course of the year as they learn more and more about how to break words into meaningful units.

What do you think? How do you teach prefixes/suffixes/roots at your school? Do you have any questions about the notebook and how it is set up?


  1. Thanks for the great ideas! Do you have a specific dictionary that you like to use in your classroom?

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  3. Hi there! I love your product, especially the dictionary guide words part! I wanted to ask if you could share the quizlet link you shared with your students? Do you have multiple ones for each week, or just one big cumulative one? Thank you!