File folder games are hands down my favorite independent activity for kids. When you need a quick fun activity, file folder games are the way to go.
What Is A File Folder Game?
File folder games are independent activities that you can grab on the go and then can be folded up and tucked away. They’re usually colorful and often feature exciting themes and images, which makes them extra fun for kids. For some reason, even basic activities are more fun with a file folder game.
Why Do Teachers Love File Folder Games So Much?
File folder games have been around forever but were a well- kept secret until recently. In the past, you’d only find file folder games in special education classrooms. Now they’re everywhere, and for good reason. They’re fun, take up almost no space, and last for years. Once they’re prepped, you’ll have them for whenever you need a quick activity.
Oh and did I mention how cost effective they are? You can make a file folder game for pennies! And once they’re laminated, file folder games are reusable and long-lasting. I still have some from when I began teaching and that was,-ahem- a BUNCH of years ago.
Great question. And the answer is that file folder games can be used in lots of ways. Need a “Do Now” activity? File folder games. Got 5 minutes before lunch and need a quick activity? File folder game. Are you an ABA teacher looking for activities students can do while you run trials with other students? Fiiiillle Folllllder Gaaaames. How about something for a fun little brain break? I’m not even going to say it, but you know (file folder games). I’ve personally never used them for homework but you could definitely tuck them into your students backpacks for a little extra practice at home. That’s what I love about file folder games… They’re so versatile.
And on that note, I’m getting tons of messages from teachers raving about how easy it is to send students home with file folder games for remote learning. This is perfect for hybrid model school schedules. Send the file folder game home with a student to use on the days that they’re home. Then when they return, sanitize them (they’re laminated, which makes them really easy to wipe down), and send them home with other students. Teachers have been thanking me profusely for my file folder games, and although I never imagined they would be used this way, I’m so happy they’re helping people during this time of global pandemic.
The game in the thumbnail above is a free download that you can grab in my TPT store by clicking HERE. Of course, you can buy file folder games too (and if you’re interested in that route, click here for mine). But that’s not why you’re reading this post. I’ll teach you how to make your own and tailor them to fit your needs!
What Kind of Game Should I Make?
Before you begin making your file folder game, first think about what skills you want to reinforce. File folder games are great for matching, sorting, identifying, sequencing, and classifying. Think about how your file folder game will work. For example, a matching game would require a template and movable pieces identical to whatever is on your template. Here are examples of different types of file folder games (click on each one to see examples that I’ve made):
What you’ll need to make a File Folder Game:
- File folders
- 12 inch Laminator
- Velcro or Sticky Tack (optional)
- Paste or Glue
- Photos or whatever you’ll be using for your templates
Instructions on How To Make A File Folder Game:
1. Template. Let’s assume we’re making a matching letters to letter sounds file folder game. You’ll need to paste your template(s) to the file folder and laminate it. In this case, the template would be the images of the letter sounds.
*Optional: If you’re feeling fancy, add a cover page and a file folder tab with the title of your file folder game. This’ll make it easier to find quickly, especially if you have a big collection of games. If you do this step, make sure to laminate the file folder with the cover page, title tab, and template already glued on.
2. Movable pieces. Now we need the pieces that will bring your game to life. In our “matching letters to letter sounds” example, the movable pieces would be the letters of the alphabet. You can print out the letters, but feel free to use foam letters, letter magnets, or any other kind of letter manipulatives. You can use whatever you have. Be creative! If you print out letter pieces, make sure to laminate them. That way, they’ll last for years.
3. Velcro. This step is optional and can be done several ways. When making file folder games, most teachers opt for Velcro to affix the answer pieces to the template. It is nice and feels more durable and aesthetically pleasing, but you don’t have to.
An alternative to using Velcro is sticky tack. It’s less expensive but still allows you to “stick” the answers to the template instead of just having them float around. Or hey, let ’em float. Just make sure to keep track of them because they’re easier to lose when they’re not fastened down.
4. Storage. I usually store my file folder game pieces in a Ziploc bag when they’re not in use. You can staple it to the back or just tuck it inside the file folder. Get the kind with the zipper top so kids can open and close them without your help!
Personalize Your File Folder Game.
Now that you know what you want to do, consider themes you’d like to include. That’s the best part about making your own! This is especially fun for kids who have specific interests. Trains? Animals? Sports? Try to find images that fit your theme to use in your file folder game. You can use clipart, print out images from online, clip photos from magazines, or pictures from coloring pages. (Make sure you have commercial rights to all of your images if you plan to sell your file folder games).
Or Save Time and Them!
If making file folder games isn’t up your alley, might I suggest my TPT store where you can find TONS of them, ready to print. Skip the hassle of creating your own templates and images and browse through over a hundred downloadable file folder games that address all different skill areas and themes.
Because I know teachers aren’t millionaires, I keep my prices pretty low. For a few bucks, you can save yourself time that could be spent doing the bazillion other things on your to-do list. Click here to browse my file folder games. I bet you’ll find something you love! Here are a few of my favorites:
By now, I think you know how much I love file folder games. And now that you know how to make them, the possibilities are endless! If you make one, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can see it and send you some love. Even better, if you buy one of my file folder games, tag me on social media! That totally makes my day seeing my resources “out in the real world.” I hope you have an awesome day!
Other posts from Exceptional Thinkers that you may like:
- How to Differentiate Instruction
- Are Educators Prepared to Teach Kids With Disabilities?
- How Many Skills Can You Teach in 5 Minutes a Day?
- Master Small Group Instruction (with Free Differentiation Tools)
- How to Make a Lemon Volcano
Keep teaching. Keep learning.
~Christy from Exceptional Thinkers
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