Y’all, I think it’s no secret that file folders are my jam. For years, I have been building up my collection so that I can have several folders to pull for literally ANY skill I cover with my elementary age students.. from basic skills to 4th grade skills. File folders are fabulous, pretty easy to prep, easy to store, and can be used a bazillion times throughout a school year. I would much rather have my students working on file folder tasks at independent work than a worksheet, even my students that can write. File folder stations run themselves and once you do the initial prep, you don’t have to do anything else except pull folders for your students to do.
I receive a TON of questions about how I prep my folders, so I thought I would document my prepping journey when I prepped some new folders.
What materials do you need?
I’ll start off with my favorite goodies I use to prep. Please note, the links are affiliate links. This means that if you click and end up purchasing, you pay no extra cost, but I earn a small fee for referring you. Color printer, paper, tape/glue sticks, velcro dots, a good pair of scissors, file folders, and a laminator are all necessities!
I purchased this printer a few years ago because I wanted to jump on the HP Insta-Ink train. Let me tell you friends, this printer has never let me down. Also, I pay 10 bucks a month for 300 pages of colored printing. I get ink sent straight to me in the mail well before I run out. It’s freaking fabulous. Click here to get yourself one free month of instaink!
I have purchased 1/2 inch velcro dots from Feiner Supply for years now. You have to purchase the hooks and loops separately, but they will last you a while. Talk to your principal about ordering it for your team before you purchase it out of pocket. You’d be surprised! You can also get a discount for ordering in bulk, so talk to your team or other sped teachers in your district about going in together to save some.
It sounds silly, but I refuse to cut with regular scissors anymore. These scissors make cutting so much easier and don’t hurt your hands. They are my GO-TO gift for teacher friends!
Obviously, you don’t need fancy colored file folders. Functionality comes first when you are creating materials for your students. When I first started my collection, I would get used file folders from our school secretary that were about to be thrown out. Sure, they had writing on the label, but I covered that with my task labels anyways so it never mattered. When I became a psycho about file folders, I decided I needed ALL THE COLORS, and I ordered single colored packs from Amazon. Each pack came with 100 file folders, so I literally bought like 1,000 file folders. Needless to say, I’m still going strong with folders. Here are the purple ones.
You can also grab multicolored packs on Amazon.
But they are super fun to look at when they are all organized in bins. It’s the little things.
Because of my husband’s job, we move a lot, which means I’ve worked in a lot of different schools. I’ve learned that one thing is the same about all schools…. the school laminator will almost always either (a) be broken or (b) be in a locked up room that is impossible to get unlocked or (c) be out of lamination. Hence, I invested in a 13″ laminator a while ago to save myself the headache.
If you plan to use the 13″ laminator to laminate, you’ll need menu-sized laminating sheets, and you have to cut off a piece of the file folder to make it fit. Here are the ones I stock up on from Amazon.
Okay, now onto the juicy steps. How to prep these things.
First, you have to cut out the front cover and the label and glue them down, as well as glue down the inside pages. I don’t waste a ton of glue, just used enough to make them stick so they stay put during laminating. I’ve actually started using scotch tape to tape the pages down thanks to Erin from Creating and Teaching, and it’s WAY easier than glue. BUT, use what you have!
Now, if you are using menu-sized laminating sheets for the file folders, you will have to cut down the front cover (see above photo) for them to fit in the sheet and go in the 13″ laminator. When I prep a lot at a time, I usually do this ahead a time to a bunch of file folders using my paper cutter to speed up the process.
I use regular 8.5″ x 11″ laminating pouches for the file folder matching pieces.
After everything is laminated, I add the velcro dots BEFORE cutting. This saves SO MUCH TIME, I promise you! I know it’s the great debate, but I personally like soft velcro on the folder and the hard velcro on the matching pieces. Totally your preference.
Once everything is velcroed, I cut out all the pieces and organize them.
I am always sure to match up the pieces to the folder to make sure I have everything together, then I store the pieces in snack zip lock baggies and add a piece of hard velcro on the baggie and stick the baggie into the corresponding folder.
What are my favorite ways to organize my folders?
I have always loved book bins for organizing my folders, but I just recently discovered clear file folder bins from Iris, and I’m equally as obsessed to use these for skills I have an abundant amount of file folders in, and to house my seasonal goodies.
Here are a few pictures of how I organize daily independent work for our students. I love this pocket chart to pull folders for students a day or two a head of time so I can be prepared for a sub or if I need to pull more tasks in a pinch.
Below you can see our independent work stations.
Ready to start your file folder collection?
Check out all of my file folder bundles on TPT!