Interactive Notebooks in Kindergarten

When I first saw interactive notebooks, I wanted to do them in my classroom! They were like a worksheet but 100 times better, because they were hands on, engaging, and kids loved them. However, I was under the impression they would be "too hard" for Kindergarteners. I wish I didn't underestimate my Kinders ability and tried them years ago! After using them in my classroom for the past year, my students were the BIGGEST FANS of interactive notebooks! They practically begged me for more!
Interactive notebooks are an amazing tool for your students, because you can pack an entire year's worth of skills into one handy notebook! My students proudly displayed theirs for Open House, and the parents were impressed to see how far their student came in just a few months. There are so many options on Teachers Pay Teachers, and for every grade level/subject! We did a page in our Phonics notebook every Friday to review our phonics skill of the week. At the end of the year, my students were able to take it home and it had everything they learned for the year in one place.

There are so many benefits in using interactive notebooks in your classroom! All the cutting and gluing helps your students develop their fine motor skills. I have so many students that come into K, not knowing how to hold scissors or glue without drowning their paper in glue. Doing these notebooks allows your students to have lots of practice with cutting. At first, the notebooks may look like a hot mess, but that's okay because they are practicing these skills and learning along the way. By the end of the year, you will be surprised at how far they've come!

Interactive notebooks in Kindergarten can seem daunting at first, so I'm going to share some tips and tricks I learned along the way!

To get the most bang for your buck, buy the notebooks when they on sale during the back to school season. I think I got 50 for about $5 at Target! Another option is to put it on the student supply list if you are able to. Personally, I like the spiral bound notebooks because they are easy to fold back and flip the pages, but the black and white composition books work too!

 Don't want to use notebooks? You can use a piece of construction paper or Astrobrights paper instead!

To prep our weekly notebook page, I would pre-cut the edges. I used this handy paper cutter to do multiple pages at once. This alone saved my students time and only took me about 3 minutes. I would have all the pieces ready to go for more students and their notebooks in our notebook bin. We developed a routine starting the first day and stuck to it for the year.

Every Friday, at my small group center, we would review our phonics skill of the week using the interactive notebook page. Completing this in a small group setting, really helped my students get the hang of it. It was only a couple students at a time that I needed to help, and I was right there to help them if/when they needed it. Doing this activity on a weekly basis helped my students remember the steps and feel confident in doing it independently. After a month or so of doing this once or twice a week in small groups, I would have them do it independently at a center or during our phonics time. They were able to do this with minimal help by mid October!

I try not to "baby" my Kindergarteners, aka do every single task for them. Yes, I prep the pages, but they do the majority of the cutting and gluing! Teach them to do it independently. They CAN do it, if you give them the chance. I model how to put it together, step by step, SLOWLY, then help them along. By the 3rd time you're working on it, you will start to hear students say, "Oh! I know how to do this part! I don't need any help." Once you hear that, you know you've succeeded!
Remember: You are not looking for picture perfect. You are looking for two things: if they tried their best and they understand the skill being taught! This is what an interactive notebook looks like in Kindergarten and I think it's wonderful!

There can be A LOT of pieces when you are working on your interactive notebooks. We like to keep a "tidy tub" at the table. A tidy tub is a small bin reserved for scraps of paper. When students cut something out, they put the scraps in the tidy tub. Once the table is finished with the activity, one of the students goes and dumps it in the big trash can. I love using tidy tubs because their work space stays clear and students don't accidentally lose the little pieces that go with the notebook.

Almost all of my students were able to complete a page in about 15 minutes. However, if a student was taking awhile to finish, or we had to switch centers, I would just clip their extra pieces with a paperclip to the page that they were working on. They would have to finish it at some point in the day or during our Finish it Friday time.

Here's a free page for you to try out! All About the Letter Aa Phonics Interactive Notebook Page

Want to try phonics interactive notebooks in your classroom? Grab the yearlong bundle here!

I hope I helped you feel more confident in branching out and trying new, engaging activities in your Kinder classroom!

-Kristina

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