How to Teach Vocabulary - Using Sticky Notes

› Sticky Notes

I love using sticky notes to teach vocabulary.  Kids love them too and it's amazing how a little sticky note can grab their attention.

When should you do this?  For me, an interactive read aloud is the perfect time to throw in some quick vocabulary lessons.  I used to plan it out, but this activity is so easy that once you do it a few times you can grab a word on the fly.


Make a Vocabulary Chart and Grab Your Sticky Notes

The only thing you really need to do prior to the activity is make a Vocabulary Chart, as described below.  Also, be sure you always have sticky notes and a pen by your side (I keep a variety of notes and pens because the kids love to use them to add to the chart during their reading time).


sticky notes for teaching vocabulary
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4 Easy Steps for Teaching Vocabulary with Sticky Notes


  1. As you are reading aloud and talking about the story, stop when you find an interesting or descriptive word.  
  2. Write it on a sticky note and quickly discuss the meaning of it.  
  3. Ask a student to put it on the Vocabulary Chart. This chart is simply four pieces of paper labeled Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives and Adverbs.
  4. Act it out if you can (waddle, move slowly, etc)


For example, today we were reading about penguins and we came across the word sleek which described the outer layer of penguins feathers (we also hit "downy" for the underlayer).

We acted it out to target the kinesthetic learning style that many students have, then added it to the paper labeled "Adjectives," because that is how it was used in the story.

All of this only takes a minute or two: keeping it short so as not to disrupt the actual read aloud too much is key to keeping their attention.

Later the children can take the sticky notes off the paper to use in their writing when they need to. We also use them for word sorts according to different characteristics and to build bigger words  (sleeker, sleekest). 




Like this idea? Learn how to use Word Wheels on the next page!






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