Are your students struggling to understand new words as they read? Today I’m sharing a free printable vocabulary journal!
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I don’t have to tell you that a having a large vocabulary is important. You’ve probably seen your students or your own kids unable to make sense of what they read – because they stumbled on some tough vocabulary.
What’s a teacher to do?
It’s important to build vocabulary from birth, and to pre-teach new words whenever possible. But what about when your students are reading books on their own? You’re obviously not going to pre-read every book to find the tricky words.
That’s where the vocabulary journal comes in. It has a variety of thoughtful activities that will help your students really think and apply the meaning of a new word. Let’s take a look!
I asked my Nine to take note of a tough word in the book she’s currently reading. She found the word “query,” which was a perfect one for the journal. First, she wrote the word at the top of the page.
Next, she copied the original sentence from the book. This is an important step, because context is crucial in understanding new words. After that, she checked her illustrated dictionary for the word (and found it!).
Query was an easy one, but sometimes the dictionary will have multiple definitions. Help your child choose the correct definition to copy based on the sentence from the book. Which meaning makes sense in this particular context?
She illustrated the word and then moved to the second page. This one requires more thought. The top activity asks your child to write or sketch related words or concepts. These don’t have to be synonyms; they’re simply related. I was pleased when she came up with “wonder” and “think” on her own.
After that, she wrote a synonym and antonym for the word. (“Synonym = same!” I reminded her.)
Finally, she wrote an original sentence using the word.
Tips for using the vocabulary journal
- Model how to use it. If you’re going to expect your students to do this on their own, put the form on a screen and use it as a class a few times first. It would be a great tool to use when you come across an unfamiliar word during your whole class read aloud.
- Don’t overdo it. If you ask your students to stop and use the journal every time they find an unfamiliar word, they’re going to start to hate reading. Set an expectation… maybe 3-5 entries a week that can be done at school or home.
- Remember that some parts of the journal entry may be hard to do, depending on the word. Accept an answer of N/A (not applicable) when necessary.
How to assemble the vocabulary journal
- Save the file to your computer (right click on the download link and choose “save as”) and then open and print with the free Adobe Reader.
- Fold the pages in half to make a book, and then open and staple on the fold using a long-armed stapler (this one is cheap and works great for us!).
If you’re looking for a simpler vocabulary journal, I have good news! You can get it from This Reading Mama. It even comes with printable vocabulary words! Just click on the image to get to her blog post.
And don’t forget to check out the rest of our quick tips for struggling readers!