Are you ready to do focused vocabulary instruction but aren’t quite sure where to start? Download these free journal pages and learn exactly how to use vocabulary journals!
Have you been following along with my 10-part vocabulary series? I’ve been sharing loads of information as you prepare to do systematic vocabulary instruction from kindergarten through grade 5.
Today I’m giving away printable vocabulary journals that you can use in grades 1-5.
Believe it or not, the journal is the same for each grade level. The only difference is that it’s at a smaller, more compact size for children in the older grades.
I do recommend that you use the vocabulary journal as a class with first and second graders many, many times before asking them to do this on their own. It may be a full grading period before you give them their own copies.
For older students, have them complete their own journals as you walk them through it. After a few weeks you can give them the journals to complete on their own. But always, always, revisit the journals as a class sometime during the week.
And, of course, assist as needed as they complete the journals. I don’t recommend using these as homework.
Let’s take a look at the journal, piece by piece.
After you’ve introduced the new vocabulary word to your learners (see how to introduce words to primary grade learners here and how to introduce words to intermediate grade learners here), have them write it in the center of the journal.
Next, have your students record a kid-friendly definition in the upper left hand corner.
Kid-friendly is the key word here. Please, please, please do not have your students copy a definition from the dictionary. More likely than not, they will choose the wrong definition. Instead, have them write the definition that you gave them as part of your vocabulary lesson. Or, if they’re able, have them rewrite it in their own words.
Next, your students can draw a picture to illustrate what the word means.
It would probably be best to wait a day before moving on to the next section of the vocabulary journal. I strongly believe that vocabulary time should be a short, focused part of your day (no more than 15 minutes if you can do it). On a subsequent day (perhaps Day 2), pull out the journals again.
Now is the time to pull out student dictionaries and thesauruses. Guide your learners as they look up the featured words. Help them choose the proper synonyms or come up with their own examples.
Finding antonyms is more difficult and will likely require more teacher guidance.
A tip: You might have students work in small groups to find synonyms/examples and antonyms/non-examples. Then pull the whole class together to compile a master list. As a group, choose the best two synonyms/examples and antonyms/non-examples for your students to record in their journals.
It’s time for the final piece of the journal.
You’ve probably been disappointed (many, many times) by the vocabulary-centered sentences that your students write. Far too often, these sentences communicate nothing about a word’s meaning.
To help avoid this common outcome, require that students have 7 or more words (These are commonly called 7-up sentences).
And there you have it! An overview of a classic vocabulary journal that works for students in grades 1-5. Grab the freebie below!
P.S. I recommend punching 3 holes in the sheet and storing it in a 3-prong folder with other vocabulary journal sheets. This way students can review previously learned words at any time.
Looking for a more advanced journal? Here’s one to try!