Teacher Hack: DIY Folder

It’s the middle of the year, half of the school supplies the students brought are warn out, broken, or even lost. Many of the supplies are in use already and you just can’t seem to find enough folders for every student in your class. You don’t want to go out and spend a fortune on folders and other supplies that will not even last a month, so what do you do?

Teachers, I have the perfect hack for you- The DIY Folder! This folder is great for thematic units of study or information you want to keep all together. With this folder, teachers and students no longer have to worry about loose papers in desks or papers accidentally ending up in the recycling bin. This is the perfect folder and it is very easy to create and durable to use!

Each year my class learns about Illinois History and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. I make a folder for each of my students for the entire thematic unit.

I have to give credit where credit is due. I’m sure this is not a new and innovative hack in any way but I want to give a shout out to my first year teacher “mom/closet buddy” (I’m sure you know who you are if you are reading this) who showed me this hack. Simple and easy so thank you for showing me!

All you need is:

File Folders (comes in many colors)


3 Hole Puncher

First, take a file folder and 3 hole punch the side of the folder. Make sure all the papers that you want to place inside of the folder are also 3 hole punched. I try to line up the papers inside the folder as close as I can so the papers do not stick out of the bottom or top of the folder. Next, take three brads and push them through the hole punches. Secure the brads on the back of the folder by bending the sides.

The brads secure the papers into place inside the folder. Papers are not lost or accidentally thrown away. Students are able to easily access notes and important papers that will be discussed and learned throughout the unit of study.

Tip: Teachers are busy and sometimes we just don’t have time to sit and put together twenty-something folders. Give your students the project to complete the DIY folders in class. Saves time and energy!

The good thing about this folder is that it is easily recognizable in students desks. I will tell students to pull out their red folders/Illinois folders/whatever we are learning about folders and students are able to pull it out within seconds. We decorate the front of the folder based on our unit of study and I have them write their names on the tab of the folder. They can personalize it and make it uniquely theirs. Another plus is that these folders are durable and do not rip easily. I have yet to have a fourth grader rip one of these!

I hope this teacher hack was helpful! Cheers to no more missing papers!