Interactive Notebooks


I’ve used writing notebooks for several years and have made changes along the way to find the best possible way to use them. This post will show how to set up your student notebooks to get them ready for a year of writing!


(You will find some Amazon affiliate links on this page. The small commission I make goes back into my blog so I can provide teachers with ideas and activities for their classrooms!)


A. Decorate the Outside Cover

Use a composition notebook, create a personalized outside cover, and seal it with packaging tape. This is a great homework assignment!


personalize the cover of notebookpersonalize the cover of the notebook


This video shows how to put them together:

B.  Create a Table of Contents and Page Numbers

Start a table of contents on the first page.  Save the first 4 pages for Table of Contents.  As students add their notes, they number their pages and keep track on the Table of Contents page!  We used colorful dot labels for page numbers.


record the lesson and page for the table of contents
example of interactive writing notebook pages

Colorful dots:  Any 3/4 inch dot labels will work, but the ones below are my FAVORITE because they offer 10 different colors.


lists skills and pages for table of contents


C. Tabs and Cover Sheets

To make tabs for notebooks, there are 3 options.  Post Its, Redi-Tags or TABS from my store. (The TABS from my store and free and also included in all the grade-level Interactive Writing Notebook Bundles.)


Post Its:  



TABS FREE from my store:
tabs for ideas, paragraph writing, narrative writing, opinion writing, informative writing


  • Create tabs (and covers)
  • Ideas- 3 pages using front and back.
  • Sentence Structure- 2 pages using front and back. (newly added)
  • Paragraph Writing-  3 pages using front and back.
  • Writing Process- 1 page using front and back.
  • Narrative Writing- 14 pages using front and back.
  • Opinion Writing- 8 pages using front and back.
  • Informative Writing- 11 pages using front and back.
  • Rough Drafts-  the rest of the notebook


Take notes in all sections except rough drafts.  Use this section to create stories, revise and edit. Then write final drafts on a separate (final copy) paper and place them in writing porfolios.

create a cover sheet and tab for paragraph writing in notebook


The least expensive way:
Although my tabs are free, you may not want to use the same ones so I will show you a way to make tabs on a teaching budget.  Make Tabs with Post Its- This is the least expensive way. Collect as many colors of Post-It notes as needed for the amount of tabs you want to create and cut them in strips. Fold it over once. Then tape each color strip in the notebook.  Use clear packaging tape and place it on both sides of the tab and both sides of the page so it looks like it is a laminated piece.


  easy way to create tabs for interactive notebooks

*Redi Tags are easier but more expensive than Post Its.


D.  3-Prong Pocket Folders-  2 per student

1.  Student Resource Folder:  Place FREE spelling dictionary and any resources neccessary for students to use during writing workshop.   Place the resource pages in the fasteners and the spelling dictionary in one of the pockets in the folder.

give students resources for writing workshop

If you need a Resource Guide, click below.


student resources for writing workshop


Free Spelling Dictionary!


for writing workshop


2.  Writing Portfolios:  Use the second folder for final copies.

Collect everything that they have published throughout the year! Poems, stories, writing across the curriculum, bulletin board pieces, etc. Place them in a folder with brass fasteners. At the end of the year, they get to keep their final product! It is a great end-of-year gift! Another idea is to set them out on table during parent/teacher conferences so parents have something to look at while they are waiting.




In this video, I show you how to set up your notebooks and folders!  Click on pic below!



I hope these ideas helped you organize student notebooks!  




If you are looking for a step-by-step writing approach TO MOTIVATE STUDENTS AND BOOST TEST SCORES that includes anchor charts, forms, tracking, model samples, printables, rubrics, slides, posters, etc. etc. Check out the all inclusive writing bundle:

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