How To Turn A Worksheet Into a File Folder Game


How To Turn A Worksheet Into a File Folder Game

File folder games are an effective way to review skills, allow students to work independently, and even assess retention of material. 

Did you know it is easy to make your own file folder games using a cut-and-paste worksheet?

Watch this short video to learn how I create file folder games from my worksheets to use in review stations in the classroom.

Now that you know how to make file folder games from a worksheet, let’s look at how to use them in a special education setting.  There are so many great ways to effectively use them.  You do have to be careful, however.  Students can become bored fairly quickly if they use them too often or too frequently throughout the day.  That means you need a lot of variety and strategic planning.



Here are some great ways to use them that are meaningful and engaging.

1. Use file folder games to review previously taught material.  

We spend so much concentrated effort teaching a topic, let’s say the solar system.  For many of our special education students review and repetition of this material are critical to maintaining that acquired knowledge. 

After I teach a unit, I will often make several file folder games using the same activities we had done while learning the material using the technique described in the video above. 

I then rotate those in their independent workstations.  That way, even when I am teaching about spiders in science, they can still be spending time reviewing what we learned about the planets the month before.

2.  Use file folder games for students who need additional support in a small group lesson.

As most of you know, special education classes can be incredibly diverse.  There are often students who are in 5th grade, reading on a 2nd-grade level, sitting at the same table with a kindergarten student who is non-verbal and struggling with a significant intellectual disability. 

File folder games are a great way to engage students who may need extra support while you are spending focused time with other students in the class. 

If possible, the file folder game will have something to do with the material the rest of the class was learning, but let’s be honest, sometimes that was not always possible.  There were times when student A was doing a color-matching activity while students B, C, and D were learning about addition with regrouping. 

So, why keep all of the students in the same small group?  Many times, there is not enough adult assistance in the classroom, and for safety reasons, you need to have all your students close by.  

Keeping students together if your class is small enough, also gives you opportunities to work on social and communication goals in a more natural setting.

File folder games often provide enough structure to keep your younger students engaged without evoking problem behaviors.

Just remember, you need lots of variety to keep them engaged and to minimize problem behaviors.

3.  Use file folder games (cool and fun ones) for early finishers.

For those students (and in they exist in every class) who finish way before all the other students, file folder activities are a great way to keep them engaged and minimize problem behaviors while other students catch up. 

I tried to keep some really cool ones for this purpose.  I would go through toy magazines and laminate and Velcro pictures of various toys that could be sorted into categories like video games, board games, outdoor games, etc.  The kids loved just looking at all those colorful images and it saves a ton of money on colored ink. 

If you know a student has a favorite TV show or obsession, try to make a file folder with that material specifically for use when they finish something early. I never wanted students to feel they were being punished by finishing early, and just getting more work, so I tried to make the file folders as “cool” as possible. 

Providing this structure help minimize behaviors and disruptions while the other students were finishing. 

4.  Use file folder games for morning work.

Oftentimes, students will come into your class each morning over the course of about 30 minutes.  That is a long time for behaviors to erupt if there isn’t something engaging for them to do. 

The goal is to get kids into the classroom and do something that is fairly independent but not too difficult.  File folder games work really well for this. 

It allowed for some review and kept students engaged in a familiar task that had a clear ending.  

Repurposing old calendars works really well in this situation, and was what I most often used for morning work. You can read all about how to create a file folder game from any calendar in this blog post, How To Repurpose Old Calendars.

5.  Use file folder activities to collect IEP data.

File folder games are a great way to target specific IEP goals and collect data. 

Create some quick activities to probe various goals, like sorting letters and numbers. 

Create a special basket that these file folder games will go once complete that is different from your other file folder activities.

Place a special sticker on the front that indicates it is for IEP measurement.  That way any adult in the room will know to put that folder, once done, in a special basket for you to record later.

IEP folder

6.  Use file folder activities for homework.

For students who have homework assignments, consider sending home a large bag filled with 3-5 different file folder games.

This is easy for parents to monitor and still allows students to complete the assignment as independently as possible.

Remind parents to leave the pieces in place once their child completes it so you can record the results. Parents simply put the completed file folders in the same bag and send them back to school the next day.

This also gives parents a chance to see what material is being covered in class.

HW bag

I hope you found some new ways to use the file folder games you may already have and see how easy they are to create.   I had hundreds of them in my classroom!!  They took up 2 tall filing cabinets.  

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