How to Make a Glossary

Similar to a dictionary in that it provides the meanings to a variety of words, a glossary can do much more than teach your child what a new word means. Making a glossary of new words can boost reading comprehension by helping students understand each and every word in the text, according to the Scholastic website. It will also aid in retention should a student come upon that word in the future.

Glossaries and Reading Skills

Glossaries provide a one-stop place for students to go to in order to figure out what new words mean. They can be even more meaningful than dictionaries because they allow students to include the words they're learning and thinking about so they can more easily access that information in the future. Growing a glossary that aligns with textbooks or other reading material can make the information more meaningful and interesting to students, according to the Scholastic website. When reading is interesting and thought-provoking, students learn more and retain more of what they've learned to use in the future.

What to Include in the Glossary

Your child can make one glossary for all of her new words, or she can make shorter glossaries for individual subjects or books she's reading. Any word that she comes upon that she doesn't know the meaning of can be included in one or more of the glossaries. For example, your child might make a glossary that defines literacy terms such as alliteration, flashback and irony. She might also keep a science glossary that defines terms such as reflection, simple machine and geology. To boost reading comprehension of fiction books, your child can include vocabulary words that she's never heard or read before so can refer back if she ever comes upon that word in another book.

Using the Glossary

Have your child keep the glossary or glossaries in her reading area or homework station. If she's reading a new novel, encourage her to keep her vocabulary word glossary nearby so she can look up words she's already added. Or, if she's studying for a science test, she can keep her science glossary close by in case she gets stuck on a certain word or concept. Use the glossary as a way to quiz your child before an upcoming test. Read out words and have your child give you the definition or provide the definition, and have her provide you with the correct vocabulary word.

Making the Actual Glossary

An easy way to create a glossary is to have your child write individual words on index cards, accompanied by the definition. She can then alphabetize the cards in a small storage box for easy access. Alternatively, your child can use a word processing program to write her words and definitions, and either store them on the hard drive or print them out. Extend the usefulness of the glossary for middle and high school students by also showing them how to include a concept or definition map for each new word. Your student writes the word in the center of the index card and then draws several lines with boxes off the word to write supporting details or examples to help define the core word, recommends Doug Buehl, author of "Classroom Strategies for Interactive Learning."

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits
  • GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images