File folder games are very popular among teachers and here’s why!
- Hands on
- Cheap ($1-2 each)
- Takes up very little space
- Can be used for different age groups from toddlers to elementary
I’ve ruined some of them in the past (glue too drippy, laminating fell apart, etc…) so I thought I would share my tips & tricks.
Step 1: Find printables on Google/Pinterest/TPT.
Any worksheet or flash cards can be made into file folder games! Since there are about a bajillion cute and free English printables out there, I just add my own Chinese labels (using Google Translate 😂).
Step 2: Trim off a little of the left and right borders so that it fits nicely in the folder.
Step 3: Glue your worksheet onto the folder using a glue stick.
Do NOT use white glue or other liquid glue. Put a few gentle swipes of your glue stick down the borders and middle. Putting too much glue will result in crinkly paper and not a flat finish.
My office happily gave me bunches of used folders for free. ♻️
Step 4: If your game has pieces, laminate them with a home laminator.
This is the easiest way to do it because it can be tricky to put small pieces in a large laminator.
I got this A4 laminator five years ago for around $25. It’s a seriously good investment and I use it all the time.
Step 5: Laminate the entire folder with a large commercial laminator.
I recommend Lakeshore Learning which has an excellent laminator and decent prices. Each folder costs $0.75 with teacher’s discount ($0.90 without discount) to laminate. If you don’t have a Lakeshore in your area, look for your local teacher supply store as it will be much cheaper than an office store.
Step 6: Cut and velcro your pieces.
When cutting, leave a little border of about 2mm around the item. This will ensure that the lamination does not unseal over time.
Velcro is optional but I really like it. It prevents pieces from moving around when playing the game. I recommend velcro dots instead of a roll because cutting velcro is unbelievably frustrating and will ruin your best scissors.
Alternatively you could use magnet dots which are available at Lakeshore for $7.19. They are more expensive than Velcro but you can play with your magnets on other surfaces.
Step 7: Finally, label your folder and have fun playing!
I label my folders with my handy labeler because I get annoyed with my handwriting not being perfect. (Am I OCD? Sometimes.)
The possibilities for file folder games are really quite endless and they can be easily modified to the child’s interests and level.
My creations so far:
- If you are not sure where to start, be sure to check out KIZCLUB and Totschooling that have thousands of free PDF printables for all subjects.
- If you want ready-made Chinese printables (pictured above), check out Fortune Cookie Mom.
- My new favorite is Twinkl because they have a lot of high quality Chinese printables. It is $70+ for an annual subscription but so worth it. Scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “China 中国”. They also have many other languages available!
Some Twinkl printables: