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Make A Glossary

This activity combines different skills from language arts. It improves vocabulary and can be used for alphabetizing practice and sentence structure. Students in older grades can also state what type of word each word is.

It can be used for any subject, and is especially good for things like science, where children tend to forget definitions of words.

You will need:

  • a list of words, taken from a lesson, unit or story
  • construction paper
  • lined paper
  • colored markers
  • glue
  • scissors


Take a look at a finished page so you can better understand these instructions.

Measure the construction paper.  Words will be pasted on the left and definitions beside them. Be sure to allow a space between the words and definitions and a free border around the whole thing.

Write the words on lined paper, space them out well so that they can be cut out in individual boxes.

Take each word and write a definition for it. If you are using a book that has a glossary at the back, try and avoid using the definitions from there. The student should define the word in their own way. It is important that the definition applies to the word in the context it was found. For example:
bore a hole in the melon with a thorn.
He was an awful
The word bore in those sentences has a totally different meaning in each.

The definitions should be on separate strips of paper. If the definition is long, or the students writing large, allow two lines for the definition.

Cut out the words and arrange them in alphabetical order. Arrange the definitions beside them.

Place the words and definitions on the construction paper. Leave the top three inches of the construction paper free. You may require more than one piece of construction paper.

When you are happy with the placement of the words, paste them in place.

Look at the first and last words on the page, these are the guide words. Write these words again, on lined paper. Paste the first word on the top left of the page and the last word  on the top right.

Write a title for the page and paste it in the free area at the top. The title can be the title of the story, or in the case of science the unit. If you still have room at the top draw or paste a picture to go with the story.

On a clean sheet of lined paper, make sentences for the words. One sentence per word. Paste it to the back of the construction paper. If there is extra room draw or paste pictures also.

If you make multiple glossaries they can be made into a book, by punching holes in the top or left margin and attaching together with yarn.

For a really good effect write the words in one color and definitions in other colors. When you write the sentences write the word in a different color to the rest of the sentence.

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