Interactive notebooks are all the rage lately. And for good reason! They allow you to mix up your teaching style all while creating rigor and engagement in your classroom assignments. They can be as simple or complex as you would like them to be, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Notebooks can include timelines, vocabulary sheets, foldables, etc. The possibilities are endless. The best part is that they can be used in ALL subject areas! Let’s explore 5 interactive notebook ideas for your upper elementary classroom.
Interactive Notebook Ideas for Vocabulary
The introduction of vocabulary words is widespread throughout all subject areas. At the beginning of a new lesson, unit, or skill we introduce new words along with their definitions. Interactive notebooks are a great tool for organizing vocabulary words. Not only do students learn new vocabulary but they are creating a reference tool at the same time. Students will have their notebook to refer to any time they need to.
There are tons of ways to implement vocabulary words into your interactive notebooks. I love having students add a new word with a definition, a sentence and a picture. They love illustrating the meaning of each word and it helps them to remember the word and the meaning.
Another great vocabulary is the four square method. Students divide their page into four parts and write the following words in each square:
- use in a sentence
Then they can fill it out as they learn more about each word. You can also create foldables or pop-up pages for vocabulary words as well. Just pick the template that best helps you meet the learning objective you have for your students. The students really love creating foldables and adding pop-up and flap features to their notebooks.
Note taking With Interactive Notebooks
Another great way to use Interactive notebooks is for note-taking. They are actually the PERFECT place! Why you may ask?…because they will stay organized!!! Papers will no longer be falling out of folders or misplaced in an unorganized binder. Students will always be able to find their notes. Their interactive notebook will become a great study tool for them.
A great idea for taking notes in an interactive notebook is to model along the way. At this age, students are just at the beginning of their note taking journey. They will need guidance as they learn to identify the important information to write down. A great way to do this is to use your own notebook and project it on your whiteboard using a document camera (Elmo, iPad, or other document cameras work great) as a guide for your students.
All of my interactive notebook resources for social studies are perfect for this! For example, my Road to the Revolutionary War has everything you and your students need to learn about this important time in American History. Students learn how to break down the triggering events and order them with this interactive notebook activity. The flaps make great places for adding additional notes.
Another great note taking activity can be found in the Regions of the United States Interactive Notebooks. Here students will learn about the different U.S. regions and each of the states found within them. They will take notes about important cities, landmarks and history for each state. What I love about this activity is that students can see that note taking doesn’t have to include complete sentences. Short bits of information can help us remember important facts.
Interactive Notebook Ideas for Project Based Learning
Planning projects for your students can be a daunting task. Not to mention the hours of time you could potentially spend grading all of those assignments, and the hassle of hauling those bulky poster boards or shoebox planet projects back and forth to grade. It doesn’t have to be this way!!! Cue Interactive Notebooks!
While Project Based Learning doesn’t necessarily need to be in a notebook, it is actually a wonderful way to to keep all projects from the entire year will be in ONE place! They will be much easier to grade and transport. Plus, students will have an amazing portfolio at the end of the year that is already put together! Its a WIN WIN situation! Grab some great ideas for year long project based learning here.
Any of my Project Based Learning Resources can be easily adapted for an interactive notebook. Your students will enjoy completing the activities, and they will love seeing all their hard word together in one place.
Timelines in Interactive Notebooks
Timelines are another skill that are taught cross-curricular. Although they are widely used in history class, timelines are also beneficial in reading. Non-fiction stories and sequencing of events can be a great way to utilize timelines.
Foldable timelines and pop-up timelines are a couple of favorites for interactive notebooks. Students can add them piece by piece or create one long timeline that folds up to fit inside the notebook. Students will find studying timelines in this way to be super beneficial and fun.
This Road to the Revolutionary War timeline is just one example. Here students order the events leading up the American Revolution. They love seeing how the events they have learned about in history relate to one another. This activity, like most timelines, are excellent for visual learners.
You can also check out my Early Explorers Timeline Activities to put this idea into practice. This factual, interactive packet with a hands-on approach to learning will surely help your students learn and understand the contributions and discoveries of the early explorers, such as Henry Hudson, Christopher Columbus, and more!
Using Interactive Notebooks as Assessments
Teachers are always looking for new and exciting ways to assess students. Interactive notebooks can be used in your informal and formal assessments. Do a quick check for understanding by using a couple of task cards in the notebook. Just print them in black and white instead of color and have students add them to their notebook.
You can also add a unit test to the interactive notebook. It’s a great way to provide students with an “open notebook” assessment. Not only does this help you assess the quality of their prior notes and work, but it also teaches them a valuable of skill of how to find specific information.
All of my interactive notebook resources have parts that can easily be used as assessments. From review questions to fill-in-the-blank to foldables you will have lots of options for assessing your students progress. Have fun and be creative with your assessments and your students won’t even know it’s a “test!”
Want More Interactive Notebook Ideas?
These are just 5 interactive notebook ideas for your upper elementary classroom. As you can tell, there are tons of ways to implement them into your daily classroom routine. Here’s some great information about using interactive notebooks in social studies.
You can also find lots of Interactive Notebook resources in the Appletastic Learning Store!
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