Oh Manilla Folders…How Do I Love Thee?

Today friends, we are going to count the ways.

First, a small photo montage (click for links) to celebrate you in all your fabulousness.

From the very simple

Pendaflex Pendaflex Essentials File Folders, 1/3 Cut, Top Tab, Letter, Manila, 100 Per Box, (752 1/3)Pendaflex Ready-Tab File Folders, 1/3 Cut, Top Tab, Letter Size, Manila, 50 per Box (42336)

To the wonderfully bedazzled

Stripes Designer File FoldersWallpaper Designer File FoldersTulipa Designer File FoldersWallpaper Drops Designer File FoldersThomas Paul File Folders, 11.75 x 9.5 Inches, Aqua, 9 Folders of 3 Coordinating Designs (35672)Thomas Paul File Folders, 11.75 x 9.5 Inches, Red, 9 folders of 3 Coordinating Designs (35674)Thomas Paul File Folders, 11.75 x 9.5 Inches, Black and White, 9 Folders of 3 Coordinating Designs (35698)

To the stylishly practical

Limbo File Folders - In, Out, Limbo - Set of 3 by Bob's Your Uncle

Is everyone else smiling?

Now, on to the ideas…the ideas…SO MANY IDEAS!!

In my classroom, I was partial to the standard (yet simply elegant) manilla file folder.  (I save the decadence of the fancy pants folders for my own personal use…call me selfish.)  I used these file folders for absolutely everything.

Clearly, some of the most obvious uses include, well, filing things and using them as regular folders.  I will not state the obvious.  I am sure you are all dutifully filing away in your classrooms already.  (Although just thinking about all that filing and organizing gives me goose bumps!)

Here are some of the other ways I used these gems:

* As personal dictionaries.  I created four pages with spaces for words under every letter of the alphabet to staple inside the folders (roughly 6-8 letters per page depending on the popularity of the letter….poor X got fairly shafted space wise).  On the front, I glued a page with all our sight words just for some extra practice.  And viola!  Children added new spelling words, vocabulary words, words of interest as they encountered them.  They (voluntarily I might add) used their dictionaries throughout the day (reading, writing, social studies, science…you name it!)

*As table-tent Word Walls.  Yes, our sight words were posted at the front of the classroom, but that didn’t mean that everyone turned their little heads and actually looked at them.  SOOOO…I put thirteen letters on each side and filled in our words of the week (a.k.a. sight words) on each table tent as they were introduced.  Sounds like a lot of work – totally wasn’t.  My friends popped these suckers up on their tables during writing and all of a sudden – no more excuses for misspelled words.

*As table-sized strategy charts. Strategy charts are all the rage these days.  Whether we’re reminding our friends the different ways they can utilize a non-fiction text, walking them through the writing process or guiding them through a math problem…WE HEART THE CHART!  I’m sure they are hanging around your room in all their glory HOWEVER imagine having them right smack in front of your friends faces!  Simply copy your fabulous chart on 8 1/2 x 11 paper, glue and you’ve got it.

*As table tent center directions.  Why kill yourself explaining a center each time a group uses it?  Instead, print the directions out, glue them to a folder, slide it into your Ziplock bag for that center and you’re done.

* As signs around the classroom.  We all know that using cardstock = longer lasting signs. I used to use manilla folders to make signs for each table of students, staple the folder to a piece of yarn and hang it from my lights.  My Super Colleague would staple the folder around a hanger and do the same thing.  I’ve also seen teachers use this strategy to hang signs over various centers or areas of their classroom to label them.  Any way you slice it – it’s awesome.

* As covers for particularly fabulous writing.  About once a month, we celebrated our writing which meant agonizing hours creating covers.  Enter the file folder.  Sturdy, plain enough to draw on and already folded perfectly in half – it was a life saver.  Just cut off the little tabby thing and you’re good to go.

Those are just a few ideas.  Perhaps you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Uh, all of these ideas are so obvi.” Perhaps you’re taking copious notes.  Whatever.  But you know what?  It feels good to share.  I’d LOVE it if you shared your ideas, too.

Sharing is caring, friends…sharing is caring.

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  • your office supply love is awesome – it's hilarious to read about someone else who gets the shivers upon entering an office supply store.
    AWESOME ideas. Thanks for sharing!

    February 25, 2010 at 7:17 pm
  • In my middle school Language Arts class, I use them for endangered-animal-research-project folders. I have the kids fold the sides in toward the middle to create a bifold-type situation. We used to cover plain ones with construction paper, but now I buy the solid color folders for them to save time and make the projects look neater. The kids make a fancy cover on the front flaps. The inside middle is where they answer their research questions (using in-text citations, natch). On the inside side-flaps, they put pictures and interesting facts. And on the back, they attach their works cited. All of their written work is typed and then glued on (hint: gluing a piece of construction paper over the center fold helps keep it rigid).

    I also use manilla folders to make pockets in the backs of my grade book and plan book (since, even though it would make a ton of sense, they don't already have them). I just cut them to size and fold masking tape over the edges on the bottom and side. Perfect place to store medical lists, calendars, etc.

    February 26, 2010 at 12:01 am
  • Oh Noah – my love for office supplies is unwavering! I'm glad you understand!! 🙂

    Elizabeth – rad idea! Thanks for sharing. Although, have you checked out the planner at Barnsey – pockets in front AND back…pretty sweet.

    February 26, 2010 at 12:02 am
  • I love reading your ideas. Manila folders are just cheap enough to be used for everything!

    Stapling two together makes a wonderful "office" to keep those wandering eyes blocked during a test.

    They could work as easy Valentine holders if you seal up the sides.

    I've always thought for a center that has similar directions but different content each week, it might be a great idea to seal the sides and use an exacto-knife to cut out peepholes. You can slide a paper in the top for the new content while writing the same directions on the outside of the folder so you don't have to keep writing or typing those out!

    What about spelling folders? Cut off the right half of the front flap. Have students put in a piece of paper with their spelling list on the left side (so it'll be hidden under the flap), and blank lines on the right side for practice? Kids can write the words without looking, and then check under the flap to see if they got them right. (You could even cut the folder into thirds so they can write their words and check them twice!)

    Ack. MUST STOP. You got me going, and I'm one of those hopelessly unorganized people!

    Good post, though 🙂 Teachers are so creative!

    February 26, 2010 at 3:43 am
  • Ah…another office supplier lover. Nice! In addition to using a regular manilla to house my to do lists, I use them for Reader's Theater scripts. With scripts that I use each year, I glue each page of the script to a side of the manilla, type up a snazzy character label for the front (ie. the part that shows to the audience), and laminate. The kids can then highlight their parts and I can rub it off for use another year. Saves those crumpled papers during the RT performance and kids feel more important with "real" scripts! Ah, manilla folders! 🙂
    ~Amy (www.teamstraus.com/blog)

    February 26, 2010 at 3:43 am
  • OFFICE Supply store? I thought they were TEACHER STORES. My favorite teacher stores are Office Depot and Staples!
    I want the green file folders. Thanks for the new ideas! Supply trip coming up this weekend.

    February 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm
  • I used them to make journals with my language arts kids last year. We punched holes in them, filled them up with notebook paper and used brads to fasten it all together. The kids then personalized their covers.

    We could have used spirals, but these worked so much better. They were much less bulky and the students could add or remove pages as they needed them.

    February 27, 2010 at 3:20 am
  • I staple the sides together and then tape them to the wall and label one for each class period. If a student is absent, I put their work in the appropriate folder and they automatically know where to look when they come back.

    March 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

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