As a sixth grade science teacher, I know full well how important it is for students to learn the vocabulary attached to my subject. It's simply impossible for a student to become fluent in the sciences if they aren't fluent with the terms used in each of my units.
I've started teaching vocabulary in an interesting way. I present students with a list of essential terms for a unit that are scrambled -- grouped in a haphazard way. Then, I ask students to examine the scrambled list and regroup them in a way that makes more conceptual sense. Doing so forces students to identify connections between concepts that we've studied in class and reinforces the notion that understanding terminology means more than memorizing terms for a vocab quiz.
This handout includes the terms that I teach during my unit on the Ecosystems. You can find other vocabulary sorting activities posted throughout my Teachers Pay Teachers homepage. Finally, you can find one complete file that includes all of the vocabulary sorting tasks that I use during the year, covering Matter, the Lithosphere, Ecosystems, Energy and the Solar System.
The preview version of this file is an uneditable PDF. The for purchase version is a Word Doc that you can customize to meet the needs of your classroom.