Friday, July 19, 2013

Social Studies Vocabulary

Our first graders love to learn new words, especially when we tell them that knowing these words will impress their friends and family and will be on tests when they’re in the third grade! When it comes to content vocabulary the words can be a little tricky for them to remember so we came up with some strategies to help them commit these words to memory.

First we combed through our state standards and found words that are fundamental to building a solid foundation of social studies knowledge. Then we created term cards for each vocabulary word. What are term cards? They are large flashcards (a half sheet of paper) that have the important vocabulary in large print with the definition or other critical information below. These are used for whole class instruction as well as reinforcement at centers. We like to print these on card stock and laminate them for extra durability.

Next we decided to ensure all students had easy and constant access to the words they’ve already learned. To do this we decided to have students make glossaries in their individual social studies journals. Each glossary card has the same vocabulary word and definition or critical information as the term cards. They also include a picture space for students to illustrate the word in a way that will help them make lasting connections.

It’s been great to see students’ knowledge of essential vocabulary grow. If you teach first grade in Virginia we’ve already created a set you can use. You can visit our Teachers pay Teachers site and download all 32 term cards and glossary cards.

Come back to this site next week to learn about our content word wall, which focuses on Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.


  1. I loved the book you suggested What Great Teachers do Differently, 2nd ED:17 Things That Matter Most by Todd Whitaker. I think that every teacher, new and "seasoned" should rad this book. It is a quick read but packed with things that make you go"hmmmm!"

    1. OK, it's summer! I meant to say every teacher should read (not rad) this book.