Making Interactive Notebooks Work in the Primary Grades

In recent years, I have found that the concept of interactive notebooks is a great way for kids to gain meaning and understanding from what they are learning.  The elements in the notebook are three dimensional which allows the students to interact visually and kinetically with their learning.  They also promote the long term retention of skills.  Young learners, especially ESL students benefit from the combination of written and visual elements in the notebook.  

Despite their benefits, anyone who has tried interactive notebooks with primary aged children as almost certainly run into challenges….somehow a student used a “little dot” of glue but the entire notebook is glued together……the student couldn’t find the “next blank page” so they skipped 25 pages between activities…..they glued everything in their book upside down….or pages were ripped from the journal even though it was placed carefully in their desk.  If you teach in the primary grades, I know you are smiling because you know exactly what I am talking about.  

Matty in Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre pretty much tells the story!

This past year, I tried a different approach that combined elements from interactive notebooking and lapbooks together and it was a success in my classroom.  

I taught my lil’ pups to make their own mini interactive notebook from file folders.  These mini books are only used for one unit so it eliminates the concern of having the entire notebook get glued together or pages falling out after only a few days or weeks.  The added durability of file folders made the notebooks easier to work with for my lil’ pups as well.  

During the first few weeks of school, I use colored file folders because it is easier to show my lil’ pups how to assemble the book if there are two different colors.  

After that, I just use regular file folders.  I ask each parent to send a box of file folders as part of their child’s school supplies.  They can be purchased fairly inexpensively during back to school time.  Large pieces of construction paper can also be used if you do not have file folders available.

To make a mini interactive notebook, each student will need two file folders or large pieces of construction paper.  Guide the students to make a pencil mark about 1 1/2″ in from each edge along the folded side.  I do not have my kids use a ruler.  I just simply give them a way to estimate the correct length….like the length of their finger….because the exact measurement isn’t important as long as they are they same on both folders or pieces of construction paper.  

On one folder or piece of construction paper, cut from the edge up to the mark on both sides.

On the other folder or piece of construction paper, have the student cut between the two mark while leaving the edge intact.

Direct students to roll one folder or piece of construction paper “like a hot dog bun” and stick it through the hole in the second folder.  Then, unroll the first folder or piece of construction paper until it lays flat.  

The result is a 8 page book that is sturdy enough to withstand little hands.  Larger books, with more pages, can be made by rolling more than one folder or piece of construction paper together at a time before assembling the book.  The first time you try and make this with your class, it will probably be a bit challenging.   However, the kids will learn to make them independently in no time at all.  Most kids have the concept after making only two or three.  

If you would like to try your hand at using interactive notebooks/lapbooks in your classroom this is the perfect unit to use at the beginning of the year because it covers many of the foundational principals of numbers and number sense.  Here is a glimpse at what is included:

  

Thank you for stopping by to read this week’s tips and tools for back to school!  I would love for you to follow my blog and TPT store so that you don’t miss out on other great ideas that will help make back to school go smoothly.

Be sure to stop back by next week as the Primary Peeps share more great tips and tricks for back to school.


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6 Comments

  1. June 29, 2014 / 4:08 pm

    You had me crackin' up at not finding the next empty page so they flip 25 pages ahead. LOL!!! I swear, how does that happen???!!! This is such a problem in my class—-in 4th grade!

    I really like the idea of using file folders to make mini interactive folders. I could see us using this in science. Of course I'll need to refer back to this post and read and reread how you made those. I must do it before I truly understand how those are made. ; )

    Ali
    Teaching Powered by Caffeine

  2. June 30, 2014 / 1:44 am

    Great Post!! You hit it right on the head with how those little use notebooks. It amazes me they have trouble even when you are right next to them explaining it to them EVERYDAY:)

    Heather Byers
    The Busy Busy Hive

  3. July 7, 2014 / 8:14 pm

    I'm so sad I missed this! 🙁 I was away at a week long camp with no internet and got back late last night. I love the way you use the file folders. I'm pinning this post so I don't lose/forget the idea.

  4. June 16, 2015 / 10:36 pm

    Thank you for your post about the interactive notebooks. These file folders notebooks are called lapbooks. They are used a lot in home schools. I have been using notebooks and lapbooks for many years now and won't ever consider changing. I love the way the students show how they are learning. Doreen at http://www.doreensrockin3rdgrade.com

  5. June 16, 2015 / 10:38 pm

    Thank you for your post about the interactive notebooks. These file folders notebooks are called lapbooks. They are used a lot in home schools. I have been using notebooks and lapbooks for many years now and won't ever consider changing. I love the way the students show how they are learning. Doreen at http://www.doreensrockin3rdgrade.com

  6. June 16, 2015 / 10:39 pm

    Thank you for your post about the interactive notebooks. These file folders notebooks are called lapbooks. They are used a lot in home schools. I have been using notebooks and lapbooks for many years now and won't ever consider changing. I love the way the students show how they are learning. Doreen at http://www.doreensrockin3rdgrade.com

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