The Importance of a Word Journal in Building a Strong Vocabulary Foundation

Vocabulary is one of the keys to becoming a fluent reader. A student who has a rich vocabulary will read more fluently and find reading much more pleasing. Spelling is also a part of learning vocabulary.  A spelling or word journal is an excellent way to help each student’s vocabulary knowledge grow.

A word journal is something that can follow a student from year to year. If it is started in the first grade it can move on to the second and each year from there if the student takes good care of their journal.

Creating the Journal:

The best format to use is a three ring binder so that pages can be inserted where they need to be.

Start out using dividers to divide each letter of the alphabet. Place lined paper between the dividers.

The first of the year create a word chest. This is simple, it can be a box covered in paper or just an old Kleenex box. Be creative and come up with something fun. When students hear words they are unfamiliar with, have heard but don’t know the meaning of, or words they think their classmates might not know they write them on a piece of paper and place it in the word chest. This is done on a daily basis.

When it is time for vocabulary lessons the teacher takes the new words out of the word chest. The teacher tells the new word to the students who add them to their journal.  As a class, discuss the new word and see if the students have heard it before and if any of them know what it means.

How to Use the Journal:

As the students learn a word, have them put it in their word journal.  The word is not just placed there. The students then define the word, break it into syllables and use the word in a sentence.  Spelling words are added to the journal along with words from the word chest.

The students turn their vocabulary book in at the end of the week so the teacher can make sure they are entering their words properly.  The teacher puts a check mark or some distinguishing mark next to each entry so that he or she does not have to check that entry again.

When the student is writing a paper or reading a story he or she can look in the journal for an unfamiliar word or, if he or she runs across an unfamiliar word that is not in the journal, it can be added, defined and used in a sentence.

Students retain the information best when entering it into the journal on their own.  The journals are always there for them to use or read. It can follow them from grade to grade.  Every year new words are added to further enhance the student’s vocabulary and build a strong word knowledge foundation which in turn helps with comprehension and fluency.



Picture by

Kim Miller

About Kim Miller

I am a single mom of two sons, 15 and 18 years old. I also have an 8 month old grandson. I recently earned my BA in Elementary Education and am working toward an MA in Elementary Education. I love working with children and watching them learn.

Top Posts | Lesson Plans & Activities

Swim4Sadna Is Truly an Inspiring Journey

This story of one Jewish mother’s courageous mission to help others is indeed inspiring. It is about British-born Vivienne Glaser’s decision to help a special education center in need of money and resources. She decided that it was time to give something back to a school which has alrea ... ...

Building Better Reading Habits

There are some things that never go out of style or become obsolete, and one of these things is reading. Needless to say, reading is not only a practical part of life but also a means to escape the pressures we encounter on a daily basis.The medium we use for reading may have evolved over the years ...

Is Your K-6 Child Struggling with Science?

Searching for an innovative but fun method to maintain your child's attention for science? Luckily, science has the potential to become one of the most involved subjects, depending on how it is taught. If your child is struggling to enjoy science in school, you can try a few fun projects at hom ... ...
Schools Experiment with Tech Blend

Schools Experiment with Tech Blend

The Grant Beacon School has adopted a new teaching procedure. Children studying there get to spend a lot of time in a blended learning scenario. They are used Chromebooks to access digital curricula and are also offered traditional education that requires them to work face to face with teachers ...

Fun & Easy Valentine Crafts for Kids

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, many teachers will be on the look out for crafts their students can make to celebrate the holiday. Unfortunately for teachers, holidays can also mean room parties, unfocused students, and the pressure to send cute and creative gifts home with students. ... ...

An Inspiring Youth Rises from Orem

The youth is the future. That’s definitely true. And it is only right to educate the young people properly and encourage them to learn new things; and that is what this inspiring young lad from Orem tried to point out.He is not your average 15-year old for he is a rising specialist in compute ... ...

Homework Bar and Lounge is Raising the Bar

The only thing constant in the world is change. Everything seems to be changing in all facets of life; how we worship, communicate, socialize and think. School and education has certainly not been left behind with people finding new and revolutionary ways students can learn in school.There is a new ...