Assembling Pre-K & Kindergarten File Folder Games

File folder games make great center activities and small group work.  I have also used them as one on one instructional tools with children in need of review and/or stamina building.  I have made a lot of file folder games over the years.  With that being said, I have assembled a lot of file folder games over the years, and I have learned a few tricks as time moved forward.

It did not take me long to realize that I really, really, really dislike wasting my time when it comes to putting together classroom stuff.  So, when I put together a game, I want to make sure it will last me several school years (plus, plus, plus).  I laminate, double side tape, and Velcro the heck out of pretty much everything I possibly can.  It simply makes my stuff last longer.  Of course, I have had super destructive students in the past, and I even had one vomit all over a game.  (All it takes is one juicy sneeze to ruin a game that has not been laminated!)  These things pop up now and then, but for the most part, these games are made to last.  Here's how I prep my file folder games for the long haul.

All of my supplies are ready to go.  I like to set up a little work station and prep one game at a time.  I learned the hard way to work on one game at a time.   Doing so means I can easily figure out where I left off and there is less of a chance of game pieces getting mixed up and lost. :)

I start off with a few basic supplies: 
- a file folder
- a laminated envelope to hold game pieces
- scissors
- sticky dots (purchased on Amazon)
- clear Velcro dots (can be purchased on Amazon)
- packing tape
- double sided tape (purchased on Amazon)
- the game board(s) and game pieces (already laminated and trimmed)

Can you tell I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon.com?  :)

STEP 1:
Use packing tape to add the envelope to the front of your folder.  That's where the game pieces live when the game is not being played.  You can read more about laminating envelopes HERE.

Game closed...


STEP 2:
Use permanent double sided tape to adhere the game mats to the file folder, and label your file tab while you're at it.  I always include file tabs with my file folder game downloads; they are the exact labels I use for my own classroom.  I use packing tape to "laminate" the tab.  I also add a colored sticky dot to the file folder (usually by the tab label).  This is a critical part of clean up time in my classroom; especially when more than once child is using an identical game.  Game pieces with yellow sticky dots go to the file folder game with the same color dot.  :)
...game open and ready to play!


STEP 3:
Add a colored sticky dot to each game piece.  Place clear, hook Velcro on the game mats where game pieces will sit and white, loop Velcro on each game piece.  This keeps the slippery lamination from ruining the game for young children.  {From a student standpoint, there is nothing more disappointed than having the table bumped, all the game pieces slide off the mat, and the game end too soon.  Another HUGE benefit to Velcro on file folder games is the "come back to it tomorrow" aspect.  If a child needs to revisit the same game another day, they can pick up right where they left off.  It has saved many tears from being shed and boosted self-esteem in kiddos who often do not finish work at the same pace as their classmates.}

Anyway, back to the game piece assembly.  I use an assembly line mentality for this step.  I place all of the clear dots on the game mats first.  Then, I add the white dots on top of those (sticky side UP).  From there, I add the game pieces to the mat.  Leave each game piece on the mat until this process is complete.  I find I have a better chance of making sure the game pieces actually sit on the mat correctly when I do it this way.

This is the loop side of the Velcro.  This is the side that will stick to the game pieces.

Place one clear Velcro hook dot in the center of each apple (scratchy side up).  If you look closely, you can see that each apple has a clear Velcro dot in the center.  Sit one white Velcro loop dot (fuzzy side down) on top of the clear dot.

Center the game piece on top of Velcro dot so the soft, loop Velcro sticks to the game piece.  Each game piece will look something like this once you're done.
I place the game pieces in a small container, usually a plastic sundae cup from the restaurant supply house, and tell children to choose the card that is in front and find the match.  This helps a lot of kids feel less overwhelmed.  Notice, you only see ONE GAME PIECE on the top of the stack...not twenty-six.

Placing game pieces in a small container to go with the game mats helps children with space & boundary issues keep the game together (most of the time).

Along with training children to take one game piece at a time, I make sure to teach expectations of cleaning up game pieces and prepping the game for the next person.  Teaching kiddos how to use a game is important, and showing them how to clean up and take care if it is equally important.  Otherwise, all of your hard work assembling fun games for them will be destroyed.  Especially if you have certain children in your class who tend to be a bit rough on classroom materials.

Keep one hand on the game board when pulling off game pieces.
I have found it is best to teach (and then re-teach, and re-teach some more) the importance of leaving one hand on the game mat as you pull off the game pieces.  This ensures the game mats and folders stay together longer.  I've also learned to add extra double sided tape to each corner of the game mats.


Do you use file folder games in your classroom?  Have you discovered any tricks that make them last through normal classroom wear and tear a bit longer?



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