Friday, August 31, 2012

Social Studies Interactive Notebook: Set Up/Sensory Figure

All summer long I have been researching interactive notebooks and a lot of people use them for math and science, which I love!  Except I don't teach math or science...  So my next best idea was social studies :o)  Now I have all good intentions of keeping this going and squeezing social studies into our reading block as much as possible but let's call it what it is, it's not always easy.  Our textbooks are a little outdated so a lot of the info we are compiling here is from a whole host of resources.

For those of you who are unsure of what an interactive notebook is, it is a notebook (composition, spiral, or even a binder - whatever you choose) that allows students to be independent and creative writers and thinkers.  Each notebook is specific to each teacher and there are many different ways to set it up. Take a look at some of these great websites for more ideas!


I set mine up where the left side is for learning and the right side is for the student's response or reflection.  I know this is pretty backward from what most others do, but I'm too OCD and like things left to right how we learn them, lol, and the matching letters (L-L and R-R) seem to help my students remember.  On the left side is where my students write notes, vocabulary, video notes, fill in printed off guides, glue in foldables that we create in class, basic questions, etc.  The right side I use as their reflections.  I'm starting off by telling them which activity to do on the right side but with their own input and ideas.  As the year continues and they become more familiar with the different types of activities for the reflections, I will let them pick their own.  Here are some websites with great right side ideas!


I use this activity table and have even added a few more!  I cannot remember where I found this, during one of my many Google searches, but if anyone knows the creator please let me know so I can thank them profusely and give them credit!  If you click the picture below it will take you to six pages of wonderful activities. :o)

The first day I introduced the notebook the students and I created the Table of Contents and numbered pages 1-5.  I didn't want kids to get too comfortable with the numbering and go ahead without me, so I'm taking it a chunk at a time.

Our first page in our SSIN was a Personal Sensory Figure.  A Sensory Figure is one of the right side activities where students draw a character from a story or a historical figure and then write down what they sense: feel (can do actual touch and emotion), smell, see, hear, taste, and even something they have done/accomplished.  The example I used with my kids was Harriet Tubman: she can smell the damp earth when  hiding in the basements of homes on the underground railroad, she feels hope for the future, she hears peoples cries and concerns and wants to help them, etc.  This is a great way for students to show you that they truly understand their historical figure or character.  For the beginning of the year I thought they could each draw a personal sensory figure because who do they know better than themselves?!   Here is my personal sensory figure (don't judge the drawing, lol)!

There is the beginning of my SSIN!  I will be posting all the pages and creations as I go so if you have any ideas to help along the way I would LOVE to hear them.  As you can tell from the Table of Contents we have already begun our Geography Unit.  Those pages will be coming soon but next up is European Explorers!



  1. What an awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing...I'm also going to be doing Interactive Notebooks for Social Studies this year...really excited!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. I can't wait to see your ideas for European explorers - it's one of my ss units for grade 6 in Ontario! I took on math last year, I'll tackle science this year, but the year after, it will be all about social studies!

    Runde's Room

  3. I love your blog! I think it's great that you use vista prints! And I love the interactive notebook! Thank you! Check out my blog too! :)


    From Behind the Lavender Door

  4. Thanks for sharing the interactive notebook activity table! I teach S.S. and Reading in a departmentalized 5th grade team, too. I'm your newest follower!

    Young Daze in 5th Grade

  5. What AMAZING resources you've found! I also use interactive notebooks and love 'em but I sometimes feel like I am running out of ideas to keep them fresh. This will def help-- thanks for sharing! :)
    Lattes and Laughter

  6. Thank you for sharing this table! I tried out a few ISN strategies this year, but have done a lot of thinking/researching and am excited/ready to start kids off with the ISN next year!

    If you have any other pictures of ISN pages, please do share...they really do give us some great ideas.

  7. Hello! Thanks for the link to my blog! I am the person who put together the activity table from ideas that I collected from History Alive, Mr. Roughton, and other sources.

  8. Thank you very much for posting these activities. I am a special education teacher and I have been trying to plan an interactive notebook for next year. I love these ideas and I can modify for them my students. Thank you.

  9. I never did get interactive notebooks off the ground with my 6th graders this year-oh, well. :)

    I'm wondering if they are able to look at the left side while they are completing the right side?


  10. Thank you for posting the left side activities for the Interactive Student Notebook. During planning my team refers to it often.

  11. Just came across this. VERY HELPFUL as I used interactive notebooks on smaller level for 4th grade Social Studies and Science, but will be using them this year for 6th, 7th and 8th Humanities. Wish me luck, and thank you for the resources. :)

  12. Hey Sabra! Thanks for this page. You made me laugh. The first time I attempted interactive notebooks, I flipped the orientation, too for the exact same reason (left is learning, right is reflection). It was the only thing that went well with my notebooks that year. Sigh! I am trying to psych myself up to try them again so I was happy to come across your page. Wish me luck!