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Science Vocabulary Word Wall: Ideas & Activities

written by: Melissa Elizondo • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 1/6/2012

Word walls are not just for younger elementary students. These activities are geared for upper elementary and middle school students. The example here is with science vocabulary, but they can be used for social studies, math, and reading as well.

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    Getting students to retain vocabulary can be a real challenge for teachers. Use these activities to help students retain vocabulary. Make sure that time is spent each week reviewing vocabulary.

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    • Science vocabulary words displayed in one part of the classroom
    • Spiral bound notecards or notecards bound by a loose leaf ring
    • Pen or pencil
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    Getting Started

    Show students vocabulary words that you have put up on the wall. Discuss the vocabulary words and the definitions with your students.

    Pass out notecards to students that you have been collecting. Have some extra sets on hand in case some students are not able to bring any. Model how to make vocabulary flashcards from the word wall.

    Have students write the vocabulary word on one side of the card. Have them flip the card over and draw a vertical line down the middle of the card. On one side of the line, have them write the definition of the word in their own words as much as possible. They may use a glossary to help them. On the other side of the line, have them draw a picture of what the word means or an example of the vocabulary word.

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    Word Wall Activities

    These activities can be used to help students increase their ability to use the vocabulary and retain it. Here are a few to start with:

    Word Wall Bingo

    Make a bingo sheet and pass out to students. Have students fill in the bingo sheet with vocabulary words from the word wall. Call out definitions to the words and have students mark which words they have. Play like regular bingo.


    Divide the class into three or four teams. Have students take turns drawing pictures within a time limit of the vocabulary words and allowing their team members to guess. Give one point if the team guesses correctly. If they do not guess correctly, let the next team try to steal. Give two points if another team steals.

    Around the World

    Have students stand and give a definition for the first student. If the first student gets it correctly, then continue on to the next student with a new definition. If the first student misses, he will sit down, and the next student will get an opportunity to answer. Continue around the room using a new definition each time a correct answer is given until one student remains.

    Journal Entries

    Have students keep a science journal. Give one or two journal entries per week. Require students to use at least one or two vocabulary words from the word wall in their entries. For a challenge, see if they can include more.

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    Call out definitions and have students give you the vocabulary word for line up order for transitions. You can also call out the word and have students give you the definition.

    Give students extra credit on daily work or quizzes when they can use a vocabulary word of your choice in a sentence.

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