12 June 2012

Classroom Binders

I started my first year teaching with take home folders, just like everyone else I knew. Within about 2 months those folders looked AWFUL!! I wish I would have taken a picture of some of them... but come on... you know what I mean!! So I asked the parents to donate a binder or 2 bucks for a binder. I actually had a parent donate a bizillion of them which worked out great. They weren't a big deal, just a great replacement in my frantic first year. (Note: if you're a new follower or don't know much about me, I was thrown into a 1st grade classroom fresh out of college 2 weeks into the school year. I had 1/2 day to set up a classroom and meet my new 30 smiling face. Survival was the word that sums up my first year!) My second year I turned them into a much bigger deal, and by last year I perfected them a bit more. I HIGHLY suggest you use this system of organization, or at least one similar, as it is a lifesaver!! Here's all the basics:

Binders: I usually go to Sam's Club and buy the 6 pack of 1 inch binders. I think they're usually about $10-11. They are the binders that have the see through pockets on the front, back, and spine. This is key for me because I can put the covers on and label the spines. I always let the kids make a picture for their back cover. It gives them a sense of ownership. This is one of those many things I splurge on for my classroom, but you could always find ways to use classroom money, ask parents, get donations, etc. *I should note my OCD doesn't allow most of those options because I need all of them to match! ;-)

Pouch: Around back to school time you can usually go to Target, Walmart, etc. and find pencil pouches that have the 3 hole punch for a decent price. I think I should them for 15 cents or something last year. I'm sure bargain hunters can find them for even cheaper. I put these inside of the binder at the very front for money, notes, etc.

Labels: I use address size labels to label the different parts. I usually put one of the spine with the number or name of the students. I also put one on each of the pockets that say "take home" and "stay at home" or similar. I also put one on the pouch that says "money and notes."

Storage: I buy file folder storage crates (see below). I usually get 3 of them and that takes care of a class of 25, barely! If you have more, or you need a little more storage room get more. I put hanging file folders inside of these storage crates and then the students place their binders (spines up) in the folders. The kids place any papers that need to go home in the files and at the end of the day students just grab the whole folder, bring it to their seat, empty it, organize, then bring the folder back. It works phenomenal, way better than mailboxes. Here's a post that has more of a description on that: Binder Storage.

So those are the basic tools I get to organize them. Then I print out the covers and the inserts to go inside of them. I usually print the covers in color at Office Max, then laminate them just for extra durability. It seemed to work really well this last year. I have a table of contents as well as rule page, and cover pages for each of the major sections. I organize all of these at home, usually putting my parents or friends to work ;-)

I have made some covers in the past, as well as insert pages and such. I have made some for this year as well. There are many different acronyms you could use, but I have STRIPE (to go with the zebra theme last year) and DOT (to go with the polka dots or just in general because it's simple and easy to the point). I am thinking of doing a DOT Binder or possibly a BRIGHT Book. I have made some different versions of covers, but I've kept the cover pages and contents more basic. This way they can work for almost anyone with most themes. I'm trying to go for bright and simple this year. Here's what I have so far. Feel free to request things... I can't promise I'll make them, but I'll add to it my ever growing notebook!!

I hope that helps! I'm really thinking I'm going to do this whole BRIGHT Binder things, just because I'm going to have a load of kids I had 2 years ago with the DOT Binder and I'd like them to have something new. If and when I complete that I will post that as well. A few tips for google docs. Make sure you download and save the document to your computer. Often, backgrounds and fonts don't show up correctly or even at all on the direct page. Also, please don't request for me to share with others. Just send the link to anyone you want to share the document with and they'll be able to download and print away. If you share with others please credit back to me! :)

** I know the pictures only show one grade, but if you click on the link each file has a cover for grades 1-5!! :) I have had kinder requests... I guess I didn't think kinder teachers would use folders or binders, but they do!! I'm in the process of making them as well :) **


YearntoLearn said...

I have a visual of your original folder in my head. I don't know how kiddos can mangle
folders so badly!
Cute binder resources.

Yearn to Learn Blog

Katherine said...

I am afraid to use the binders for my first graders! I really want to.... Is it too much organization for tnem? What are your thoughts?

Love your blog!!

Christie said...

Katherine - I promise you it isn't! It worked perfect! So much better than the folders. The file folder crate worked a million times better, because their little hands wouldn't get all of the papers from their box or they'd drop half of it. This worked perfect! Thanks for reading!

Mrs. Wheeler said...

I do data binders, as well. Last year, my principal got us the worst binders! They looked like crap about 3 months into the year...and I had to replace them all! I know how you feel!

Mrs. Wheeler’s First Grade

Jennifer K. said...

I love this idea :) My school buys planners for all of the kids, so I don't need to have binders too, but I am pinning it in case I move to a non Title I school!

Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

Sandra said...

Cool! I am doing bright books this year for my new kiddos! Still working on them!
❤ Sandra
Sweet Times in First

Alana said...

Love this! I especially love the idea of STRIPE: Students taking Responsibility! I love ideas that = students do the work instead of me!

Denise Mabile said...

I love this. I can't wait to see what you come up with for BRIGHT. I started your stripe binder when I discovered it around November (in my second year of teaching). I have a page protector for each subject and we put all the worksheets/graphic organizers/hand outs for that unit were working on. At the end of the unit they put it in their keep at home side. It works great because I used to send everything in keep at home and if we would have a unit test they ALWAYS came to me saying they were missing things. Thanks so much for sharing. It has made all the difference in the world.
Just a little request, can you make some of them say 3rd grade?

Denise Mabile said...

nevermind...just seeing that they have more options when you open it! Thanks

April Kreitzer Wolfe said...

Love the zebra print one. Great job!


Sara said...

I love these labels but am wondering if you could possibly make one that says kindergarten? I used a DOT folder last year buy my cover wasn't nearly as cute :)

Jeff & Sheila said...

Love your folders! I used a Rockstar binder last year. This next year we are getting 3-ring binders instead of using the cheap folders. Yea!! Love your idea about laminating the cover. Clever idea!

I too would like to request a Kindergarten light dot page. That would be wonderful!!! Thanks so much!!


Mrs. Corbitt said...

I love your storage idea for the binders! Last year I had a bucket that I used but it was impossible to keep the binders in any type of organized fashion and inevitably when someone checked out early I had to empty the entire bucket to get to the one binder I needed. I am super excited to implement your crate idea. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

Ashlee said...

I love this idea and can't wait to try it! Could you make one centered around a "sweets" theme? I am doing cupcakes, candy, sweet things theme. I'm thinking of acronyms such as CAKE, SWEETS, or CANDY.

Can't wait! By the way...I'm your newest follower!


Anonymous said...

LOVE IT!!!! Great Ideas!! I used something like this my second year of teaching and called it a "BEE Book" (Bring Everything Everyday) It worked so well!! LOVE THIS IDEA!!

Rory Fugerson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Hi! I love your graphics, and the polka-dots match my classroom theme for the year. I know others have asked already, but I'm going to put in another request for a Kindergarten cover...please!!!!
Thanks a bunch!!


MeadowsMom said...

Love your zebra stuff! Do you have any plans to make a stripe binder for pre-k? We are going to use folders instead of binders but I thought it would be cute to put in a plastic sleeve in the brads.

thank you!

MeadowsMom said...

Sorry forgot to add! My email is stephenandmindyc@yahoo.com

Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Love it!!! Do you have a copy of your ABC's of school? Would like to see if for some ideas. Also a kindergarten STRIPE?


Samantha said...

I love this! Do you have a picture of a completed one? :)

TLT said...

Love it!!! I sent you an email regarding materials.

Lisa Messner said...

Found your blog linked up to another one. :) A teacher friend introduced me to this type of organizational tool when my oldest son was in 5th grade. He's a senior this year! I fell in love with it as a parent! Best tool ever! I declared if I ever went back to teaching I would be using this as well. I am now in my 6th year as a Kindergarten teacher and I love using these binders! I introduced it to our Preschool teachers and they use it too. With them, the organization is more for the parents not the students. We are going to push that it be a school wide requirement for the elementary! :) Love your covers!