Thursday, 13 June 2013

File Folder Games for Middle Grade Students

Maybe it's because my initial teacher training focused on the primary grades, but when I decided it was time to start making supplies for my future classroom, file folder games quickly came to mind.

Doing a quick Google search showed me that few, if any, teachers are using this concept with older students. I'm not sure why this might be, but I have decided I will not let it stop me in my quest for useful and independent activities students can work with once their classroom work is complete.

Why would I use these with older students?

  1. Portability It is likely that I will work as an occasional teacher for a while, so portability is mandatory. Even within a single school, there is a chance I would need to move from classroom to classroom depending on the school's schedule, so portability is always a desired feature.
  2. Enrichment Opportunities No student wants to be faced with "more of the same" or be forced to help other students when their work is complete. Providing recreational math games in one way to help students extend concepts without extra drill and encourages them to think strategically.
  3. Thriftiness The cost of purchasing plastic commercial versions of some of these games would be prohibitive. The bulk of the games would also make them cumbersome to carry and difficult to store. I can make similar versions of these that cost less, take up less space, and are laminated to improve durability. A missing piece can be easily reprinted.
  4. Versatility Laminated surfaces lend themselves well to dry-erase markers (or even crayons that can be wiped off in a pinch). This means games can be adapted to suit current needs, and it also means that popular paper-and-pencil games can be played with less paper waste involved.
  5. Novelty If I can't find them online, chances are good that most middle grade kids aren't used to seeing file folder games as part of their math instruction.
  6. Play Value Introducing new concepts through play can help students develop a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts. Playing a code-breaking game can help introduce the concept of combinations and permutations, for example. Probability, geometry, co-ordinates etc. can also be introduced through game play. While the folders lend themselves well to after-work activities, they can also be used to introduce concepts to the entire group. When the focus moves away from computation and "right answers only" into the underlying concepts and strategies, many students feel less threatened with the introduction of new concepts. As we would not forbid a toddler to use a word he or she could not yet write or spell, we can encourage students to develop meaning and concept through games and exploration before demanding computational accuracy.

The games I will be making include many from my math pages here: and here: These include classics such as Dots, Hex, Black, Birdcage and several others. What is wonderful about these kinds of games is that most of them are traditional and quite old, and as such, remain in the public domain.
If you wish to use any of the boards I have drawn specifically for my site, you may, with the caveat that these are for personal use, which includes homeschooling for a single family, use for a single classroom, or recreational use at home. Many hours of work go into the development of the resources I share. If you wish to make these and sell them or otherwise distribute them, you will need to contact me with the details so we can come to an arrangement.
Once I have completed the math games, I will likely print out some Madlibs from my print page as well, primarily for ESL students, but also available to all students upon completion of the main classroom activities.

As I have completed the basic games and ensured that the layout works, I will share those printable boards and rules on the print page as well.

This is the process I use:

  1. Determine the game to be used and divide it into three main sections: the rules, the board, and any playing pieces.
  2. Create separate files for each section and print these out. Since the games are aimed older, they are less clip-art oriented and quite minimalist, but clip art and other graphic features can be added as desired.
  3. Create a cover piece that included the title of the game and the number of players required.
  4. Print all of these out on regular printer paper.
  5. Trim the printouts as needed.
  6. Paste the board to the inside of the folder. Larger boards must not bridge the folded area as they may make the folder too bulky to fold. Paste the cover on the front and the rules either on the inside left of the folder, or on the back for larger boards.Laminate the folder and playing pieces separately.
  7. To make a pocket that is both laminated but which you can open up, see this excellent blog post I found that has clear instructions complete with pictures
  8. You can also paste the pocket right onto the folder before laminating if you do not need to be able to close a flap. This eliminates the need to use velcro to attach it later. If you want the best of both worlds--a pocket that has a flap you can close and is sealed onto the board with the lamination rather than velcro, try lining up the pocket at the edge of the folder so the flap extends beyond the edge. It can then be folded at the edge of the folder. It may be a little bulky, but the pocket will not be easily lost.

1 comment:

  1. Labyrinth and Black are now available on the print page