Teaching Vocabulary in Social Studies and Science Part 1

Vocabulary is one of the most important parts of science and social studies instruction. Students who do not know the meaning of words or have the background knowledge to make connections to, struggle the most with science and social studies. I have been working on deepening my students vocabulary for years now and feel it is always an area to keep growing in.

My hope is to make teaching vocabulary easier and therefore teaching science and social studies content becomes easier.


What, you may ask, is the beginning to any good vocabulary acquisition? A WORD WALL!


Do you have a word wall in your classroom? And no, I am not just talking to the primary teachers here. Upper elementary? Middle? High school? Classrooms at all levels benefit from word walls!


I know what you are thinking, because I used to think the same thing. I teach fifth grade. These students do not need a word wall.


Students reference them and make visual connections. ELL and ESS students rely on them heavily and let’s be honest, word walls are super simple to set up and have up for the entire unit. So really we do not have any excuses for not using them.


For those of you rolling your eyes and shouting  Duh Danielle! Trust me I have heard it enough and have learned my lesson. I definitely did not think that word walls were very important at the upper elementary level until I realized just how visual my students were. I now have two word walls in my classroom (math and science/social studies) and I rotate the words out with the units.

I also like to group words based on their connections. Inventors with other inventors, and cowboys with cattle trails. This helps further the connections and students can use these visual cues to help deepen their understanding and add to their schema.


I hope if you do not have a word wall, you will consider adding one (or two!) to your classroom. Do not be like me and wait to figure out how important this simple visual reminder is for students.

To grab my fifth grade science and social studies word wall pieces head to my TPT store and take a look at what I have to offer.

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