Keys to a Successful Science Interactive Notebook

Science Interactive Notebooks are the cornerstone of my science curriculum and continue to be because of these Keys to a Successful Science Interactive Notebook that I keep in mind when designing new material for you.

1. Introduce topics by asking a guiding question.

A guiding question is essential in helping students focus on the topic of study and frame their new knowledge in a way that helps them solve a problem.  I include my guiding questions on the top margin of each Teacher Output page (notes) as shown below.

2. Deliver information using a "chunking" strategy.

Chunking refers to an approach that breaks up long strings of information into units or "chunks" that are more manageable by reducing the cognitive load as the learner processes information making it easier to commit to memory.

3. Encourage students to use color to highlight key vocab and text.

Allowing students to use color when completing their notes stimulates the creative side of their brain and helps them visually separate and recall the information they are writing.

4. Apply new information immediately.

What makes an interactive notebook "interactive" is the teaching strategy of giving students an activity for them to complete in their notebooks that will actually make them USE and APPLY the information you just gave them immediately.

5. Use a variety of interactive activities in order to reach all the different learning styles.

One reason I see interactive notebooks fail is because students lose interest in them when they are given the same foldable or same flip book for every new topic introduced.  I go to great lengths in making sure that my science interactive notebooks will offer original activities for students of all learning styles throughout the year.

6. Use quick assessments to check for understanding.

I have found that having students complete a mini-quiz the following day after notes helps refresh their memory and gives the teachers an opportunity to check for understanding.

7. Set aside some class time for students to work on interactive notebook activity.

Science interactive notebooks are the foundation for teaching new material, so it's important when assigning an activity to set aside at least 15-20 minutes of class time for students to work so that the assignment is understood, students have access to materials needed to complete activity, and opportunity for questions/clarification are given.

8. Have students share notebooks with peers and parents.

My biggest fans of my Science Interactive Notebooks are parents.  They are absolutely thrilled to see the creativity of their students work and students are proud to share them.  I think it's important that parents see them at least once a quarter.  Here's a Parent Letter you can use to explain what it is and allow them a place to leave comments for their child's work.

If you're new to Science Interactive Notebooks, make sure to download my Intro to Science Interactive Notebooks for FREE or feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.

If you're looking for more Science Interactive Notebooks, check out my Triple Play Bundle that features my Earth & Space, Life and Physical Science Interactive Notebooks:

Plate Tectonics and Sea Floor Spreading for Science Interactive Notebooks

Teaching the concept of sea-floor spreading can be easily modeled using my simple, yet powerful interactive resource for science interactive notebooks.
Earth Science Interactive Notebooks - sea floor spreading
Click image to view product

Using the given template
Plate tectonics earth science sea-floor spreading
click image to view product
and a sheet of colored paper, students will be able to manipulate a model that will allow them to visualize, label, and describe the evidence of Hess's theory of sea-floor spreading which include evidence from molten material, magnetic stripes and drilling samples.  This activity can be found in my Earth Science Interactive Notebook: Plate Tectonic chapter which also features INB activities for:

Plate tectonics sea-floor spreading

All of my science interactive notebook chapters come with the TEACHER INPUT NOTES (as seen above in first picture), detailed instructions for STUDENT OUTPUT ACTIVITIES, MINI-QUIZZES for each concept of the chapter and ANSWER KEYS!

Have fun and enjoy watching your students get excited about their Science Interactive Notebooks!


It's EARTH SCIENCE WEEK!  Doesn't that make you just want to sing!?!?
This year the American Geosciences Institute will be organizing Earth Science Week which runs October 11-17 and celebrating the theme "Visualizing Earth Systems".

Everyone can participate in Earth Science Week and most of the work has been done for you.  You can find a list of engaging and educational classroom activities that are based on the Next Generation Science Standards and are marked with the appropriate grade level here.

Each day this week I'll be celebrating Earth Week by sharing freebies, special promotions and products with you.  Make sure to follow me on Facebook ( to be notified!  My first gift to you, offered for a limited time, will be instructions and printables for making this Earth's Interior interactive activity that is featured in my Earth Science Interactive Notebook: Plate Tectonics.
Interactive Science Notebook
Click picture to download FREEBIE

Did you miss Earth Science Week this year?  Don't worry, the American Geosciences Intstitute love Earth Science so much, that they even made it possible for you to extend the celebration from one week to the whole school year!  Check out this amazing 2015-2016 Activity Calendar which provides, "information about "Visulalizing Earth Systems" activities, career opportunities, happenings, important dates in history, even participation tips, and links to resources on the Web".
If you've organized a special event, celebrate your students' work at school and throughout your community.  I would love it if you wanted to share here with other educators  - please send your photos to or share in the comments below on your celebrating!

Interactive 3D Topographic Map YOU CAN BUILD!

science interactive notebooks topography map
Are you ready to have your students FLIP OUT over topographic maps??  Well, with the help of the researchers at UC Davis and interactive 3D projection technology (and a little sand) you CAN BUILD THIS and blow your students minds!
Using this setup of a Microsoft Kinect, digital projector, and a sandbox, you can now make an interactive topographic map that will show contour lines and elevation in real time and respond to you and your students' actions.

The sandbox in it's natural state gets transformed when the Kinect and the digital projector are turned on and display the graphics from above.

countour lines
contour lines lesson plans
Don't have time to build one yourself or feeling overwhelmed with the technical portion?  Take advantage of those awesome brains coming into your classroom every day! This is a perfect STEM project to get your science students excited about technology and engineering, just like these students from Ithaca's High School FIRST Robotics Team 639. The students built the following Augmented Reality (AR) sandbox in 2013 and have since donated it to a children's museum.
contour lines
Ready to get started?  Go ahead and download these instructions for construction and software setup.  Think your students need some more background on topographic maps and contour lines?  Then check out this chapter from my Earth Science Interactive Notebook series: Mapping Earth's Surface

Want to see more?  Here's a video ( showing a virtual dam failure and levee break - simply amazing!!

C'mon, tell me this wouldn't get your students excited about Earth Science.  Have fun with this one!!

Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get more engaging science lessons and resources that will enhance your curriculum and engage your students throughout the school year.

World Space Week 2015 - Lessons to Integrate Technology

science interactive Notebooks

A celebration that occurs each year from October 4 - October 10 that has the potential to get students excited about science and technology is World Space Week, which is the largest public space event in the world.

Teachers are encouraged to introduce space-themed lessons and engage students in space-based activities.  So, to help you "launch" this week with success, I've put together some "stellar" lessons and resources to make your World Space Week a "blast"!  ...see what I did there :)


Nitty Gritty Science
Introduce students to major topics that are celebrated throughout World Space Week by having students complete notes and activities from my Earth Science Interactive Notebook - Astronomy and Space Science.  In this chapter you will find activities that support Earth's Motion, The Moon, The Solar System, The Planets, Stars and Galaxies and a Shuttle Launch.
Astronomy and Space Science

World Space Week Educator's Resources
Visit the World Space Week website to search for events in your area and to find educational materials like the one linked to here that support some of the goals of World Space Week which are to:

  • Excite young people about science, technology, engineering, and math
  • Foster international cooperation in space and outreach and education
  • Demonstrate public support for space programs. 

International Space Station Educator's Resource Guide
Lockheed Martin and NASA created a space-packed teacher's guide about the International Space Station which is filled with activities geared towards grades 3-9 that help students relate to how the space station works, what are astronauts rolls and what really occurs on board the real station.


NASA's Educational Publications
This site features FREE educational print publications from NASA.  Nasa's education program strives to "inspire and motivate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics" by supporting education in the Nation's schools (

Bring a Planetarium to your Classroom
Community outreach programs and educational resource companies are offering a chance for teachers to bring the night sky into the classroom.  This unique opportunity offers students a chance to see constellations and starry skies without the light pollution that is found in many communities. Some mobile labs can also take students on a tour of the solar system either in the comfort of your classroom or in a gymnasium for a larger group if you're holding a space celebration event.  Check out some of these mobile planetariums to see if there is one in your area:





I know by using some of these resources you and your students will have an amazing Out-of-this-World Space Week!!  Have more ideas, I would love to share them - message me below.  Throwing a Space Event!?!?  Tell us about it!!

Awesome & Relevant Websites for Science Teachers

Nitty Gritty Science
There you are!  You're looking great with your fresh summer glow, the rings under your eyes have disappeared and what's that?? You're only down to one cup of coffee a day?!?!  Fantastic!  You are ready then...ready to start mapping out your upcoming curriculum for the new school year, right?

Well, great, get to it...but, just in case that sunshine calls you away from your computer one last time, or that cold margarita needs to be drank before the ice waters it down, know that I've saved you some time putting together this list of Awesome and Relevant Websites for Science Teachers.

These are actually sites that I've personally bookmarked and used and I encourage you to do the same.  They are loaded with very useful science content that would really benefit you and your students this upcoming school year.

1. Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT)
Of course I have to mention Teachers Pay Teacher - it's the company that gave me the opportunity to share my curriculum with you.  However,  I'm not just a designer, I've used TpT to find countless high quality, classroom-tested resources that I've use again and again. Resources can be found for all science levels and subjects.

2.  Web-based Inquiry Science Environment  (WISE)
Computer based activities for students that incorporate interactive models that focus on science inquiry. Teachers can find something for every science subject.

3. The Periodic Table of Videos  
Site offers the periodic table we all have come to love, except students can click on each element and watch a short video.  The creators of this site have now included videos on some well-know molecules, so be sure to check those out too!

4. Exploratorium   
I'm a big believer in using demonstrations to "hook" students when introducing a new science concept and this site delivers not only demo ideas, but also includes instructions, materials needed, helpful hints AND explains the science behind them - just awesome and so relevant!

5. Edheads  
This site offers students online activities such as performing a virtual knee replacement surgery, or designing a cell phone.

6. E.O. Wilson's Life On Earth
(Note: the download on this site requires access to iBooks store)
Many teachers I speak with are frustrated because their Life Science and Biology text books are in disrepair, outdated, or simply non-existent.  Life on Earth is a Biology textbook series that consists of 41 chapters and can be downloaded for FREE! Such an amazing, and beautiful resource.

7. Compound Interest
I love having short reads for my students for various reasons, and one of my go-to sites for an interesting read is Compound Interest.  Articles are relevant, fun and I've even learned a few things - like what is the chemistry behind wet dog smell or what is the chemical compound responsible for the aroma and flavor of whiskey (that one was for me, I love me a good Mint Julep in the summer!).

8. Nasa for Educators
NASA is passionate about education - especially when it comes to attracting and retaining students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  The lesson plans and teacher resources they provide are engaging and relevant to student's interests.

9. Innerbody
If you're teaching about human body systems, this is a site you do not want to overlook.  Innerbody offers hundreds of interactive anatomy pictures of all the body systems and gives descriptions of all the components of each system.

10. BioVisions
This site from Harvard offers unparalleled visuals to share with your students when it comes to the workings of the Inner Life of the Cell.  I've watched the videos again and again and they still fascinate me.

Do you have any sites that MUST be bookmarked by science teachers?  Please share below so all can benefit!


Okay Science Teachers - stop reorganizing your chemical storage and put down that newly scrubbed glassware because it's time for the Super Secondary Science Giveaway!

Myself, along with some awesome Secondary Science Sellers from are teaming up to offer you a chance to win some fantastic middle and high school resources for the upcoming school year!

This year I'm offering TWO teachers a chance to win a Task Card Bundle Life Science or Physical Science - WINNER'S CHOICE!  

To enter, just follow the instructions below - winners will be notified by email on Saturday, August 15!

Once you've entered to win one of these prize packs from Nitty Gritty Science, don't go back to reorganizing your graduated cylinders by height, hop on over to the other science blogs (see link-up below) for a chance to win even more!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...