10 Ideas to Teach Science Vocabulary

I receive a lot of questions.  I wish I knew how to answer more of them.  Hopefully, between Facebook and the blog, we can come up with some possible solutions together.  I have quite a few burning questions that I address in my Science Solutions Series.  Please comment to share what works for you!

Science Vocabulary Ideas

Are you tired of using the Frayer Model?  That’s what I hear from a lot of teachers and I agree!  While the Frayer Model has its advantages, using it as your only source of vocabulary instruction may not “stick” with all students.  Here are some ways to bring a little more excitement and creativity to science vocabulary instruction.

Science Vocabulary Ideas

1. Word Drawings-  These are vocab words written in a way that helps show what they mean.  This is a great activity for your “outside of the box” thinkers.  {Learn more at Texas Teacher Round-up.}

Science Vocabulary Drawings

2. Whole Brain Teaching- I WISH I could show you video of my students using Whole Brain Teaching, but I don’t have parent permission.  There are many videos on YouTube where you can watch how students engage their muscles and their minds to remember information.

3. Interactive Computer Games- While students are being “quizzed” on vocabulary, they will be using the terms in different ways. {See some for grades 3-6}

4. Science Vocabulary Folders- My students keep a vocabulary folder record of all of the important terms learned throughout the year.{Learn more and download a freebie.}

Science Vocabulary Folder

5. Parade- This looks like a really great project that will help students REALLY remember what words mean.  {See the pin.}

6. Vocabulary Demos- This year, I started using vocabulary demonstrations with my small groups who need extra reinforcement. We discuss and do a demonstration for each idea.  Then, each student records a diagram for the term.  {Learn more about Matter vocab demos.}

Science Vocabulary Demos

7. Concept Map- Thinking about how terms are connected is much deeper than simply defining the terms.  You can do this easily by writing some terms on index cards.  In groups, students determine how the terms are connected then explain their reasons aloud or on paper.  They might also write on the arrows to show the connections.

Science Vocabulary Concept Map

8. CLOZE- If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s a fancy term for “fill in the blank”.  This vocabulary strategy works particularly well with my English Language Learners and special education students.

9. Vocabulary Mural- This can be used for terms or concepts.  My students created one when I assessed their prior knowledge before beginning our unit on slow changes to Earth’s surface.

Science Vocabulary Murals

10. Acrostics- Acrostics stretch kids’ thinking.  This is one of my top strategies to use for notebook reflections in small groups.  {Learn more and download a freebie.}

Science Vocabulary Acrostic


  1. Great ideas…Thanks! Another idea for you…I had a terrific experience this year having my students develop haikus for vocab words related to cells. They were amazing!

  2. Amanda Nasers says:

    You provided educators with many different resources to help students learn the crucial academic language that they will be assessed on. Not only did you include vocabulary activities, but you also provided ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge through demo/experiments. I really like all 10 of your examples on how to teach students vocabulary. Some science vocabulary terms are hard to comprehend/remember, and these different learning opportunities will help students with the vocabulary. When students understand the vocabulary, it is easier for them to use inquiry to develop experiments to learn more about the are being taught. It is not only helping them with science but it is also increasing students skills in literacy. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Maureen says:

    I play “Key Word Bingo”. Each student gets a blank card then they write their vocabulary words in the boxes (one per box). The center is a free space. I then read the definitions and they mark the cards. The first three winners get a small token such as a pencil or eraser.

  4. This is the first time I’ve visited your blog, and I love it! I’ve just subscribed via email – thank you for the fantastic suggestions, the parade is my favorite!

  5. I love it. Some of these ideas would even work for my high school students. Thanks so much for sharing!
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