Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gator Binders... A more sophisticated way to do take home folders....

Hi everyone and welcome back to my blog!!!
I am trying my best to at least get back to posting once a week, especially during these hectic days that all teachers are planning, cleaning, organizing, etc...

I am back with an idea that has been put in practice for a long time already, but I never thought about blogging about it because I figured most teachers have it down and this might not be something new to anyone. HOWEVER, I was going to Walmart and I saw all those BTS materials (and yes, that was on July 11, "What the heck Walmart?"). So I started thinking of things I could write about (since I'm trying to write once a week like I mentioned above) and what new blog post that could be helpful to others... and then, the light bulb turned on!

So I purchased a three ring binder, three hole punched pocket folders, some labels, and some clear sheet protectors.

I just want to clarify that this was not my original idea. When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher (who is amazing, by the way) showed me this binder that the students had as a take home folder. She also got this idea from a previous teacher that she taught with... Anyways, I loved it so much that I implemented the same system when I started teaching. I have changed the name of the binder and maybe taken a thing or two out since it wasn't working for us. These binders had hole punched folders inside with labels to organize papers and a zipper pocket to keep their pencil and eraser when taking it home.

The binder was always a present from me to my students. There were so many of them that coulnd't afford school supplies, so the binder was something I purchased for them. Yes, it was a little expensive if you had about 25 students (which was always the case). However, it was so great to keep the papers organized, that it really didn't matter to me. Now, if a part of the binder broke or got lost, then I did NOT replace it. With this gift, I always pointed out to my students about being careful and responsible with their supplies, and this was definetely not an exception. If they did break something from there or lost something, they were responsible to replae it (I always had at least one student each year who did, but I was always happy that parents never took too long to keep this binder with all materials needed). I only added the labels for the folders or the label in front with their name on it.

Alright, we were the Gators at my school. So I named the binder as "Gator Binder". Let me tell you that these binders did NOT make it to their hands until the second week of school (or even the third). You might wonder why ??? Well, on my first year I got too excited too soon and gave these on the first week. Then I had not one, but TWO students changing schools by the end of the first week of school. So I, of course, was not going to ask for the binders back! So lesson learned, do not give them out too soon!!!
Anyhow, these are the following things the binders have inside:
  • I purchased a three ring binder. You can find them at any office supply store. I try to buy the ones that have a flexible material because they cost less and believe it or not, they are more difficult to get damaged. The first year I bought them at an office supply store, but then I found them at walmart. I realized I had to buy them from Walmart AS SOON AS THEY PUT THE BTS SUPPLIES. Why?? Because these babies get sold out like hot bread!!! One year I waited for a little longer and I had to buy two different colors for my students because there were NOT enough! Most of them were gone, gone, gone!!! That year I almost had a heart attack (not really, but almost), because if you know me, then you know that I am NOT ok with having things that missmatch! Anyhow, the binders are like $0.50 so it's not bad at all :) Since we were the Gators at my school, I had a label with a clip art of a gator and their name on it. The labels are 2x4 and I tape it with clear duck tape on the front cover of the binder to it doesn't peel off.

  • We had daily spelling homework. So I had a clear sheet protector for each folder so students could keep their Spelling Sheet in there. We were a bilingual classroom, so when we started inctroducing English sight words, we had two lists. Here is how the lists looked like in the sheet protector front and back :)
  • The binder contained three hole punched folders inside. There are two ways you could get these folders. Either you buy the folders without brads (which are the cheapest to buy) and you hole punch them OR you could always buy those already punched (which are a little bit more expensive than the others I mentioned). I also used white labels and they are 2 x 4 as well.
    Inside the folders we had:
    • 1 folder for Calendar: This folder had our behavior calendar.
    • 1 folder for Stay Home and Bring Back to School: The stay Home side was any paper that needed to stay home, like flyers and graded papers. The Bring Back to School side was any paper that needed to be signed and be returned to school, like field trip permission slips or report cards.
    • 1 folder for Homework: We kept our math homework or any unfinished work in this folder.
  • The folder also had a pencil bag inside. The pocket was useful so students were encouraged to keep a pencil and eraser there AT ALL TIMES so they couldn't say "I didn't do my homework because I lost or didn't have a pencil". However, after two years of buying them, I decided not to use those anymore because they were very expensive (when you had to buy 25 of them) and I spent most of the time reminding students to keep a pencil in there (because I saw them constantly empty). To me, that was not worth the amount of energy and money I had to spend on those bags. So when I stopped buying them, it was like nothing happened. I did not see a big deal of not having one :) 
Well friends, that is it for me! I honestly would like to say that I have freebies for you, but I honestly do not have any because these binders were based on my school mascot and the labels were created based on the size I purchased them. However, I hope this post has given you an idea of maybe creating your own binder based on your school mascot and based on what you would like for your students to have in their binder.

I decided to create a general binder for FREE in both English and Spanish!!!, I was so happy on how people commented on my facebook and how they liked my post. So thank you very much to all of you! :)
Before I continue, if you don't think this binder is a good fit for you. Don't worry! Please see how I created the labels!! Maybe you can use these in a way you choose to do your take home folders! Maybe you can use some of them :)

Here is a peek of what I have created:

The freebie is in a Zip folder my friends! You may wonder why... Well, after I finished the whole document of the labels by just inserting cells, I tried it and everything was missplaced! :( I hated it so much and I tried everysingle thing to make it work, but I couldn't. So when I tried only one page with the original document of the labels, everything worked just fine! So I know you will have to open the labels individually, but hey! They will all work and be aligned with the 2x4 label sheet! :)

Anyhow, I have included black and white labels for Calendar, Stay Home, Bring Back to School, and Homework. Of course, all these are also in Spanish :)
I have also included color labels for the front cover of the binder. One version for boys and another for girls. THESE FRONT COVER LABELS ARE EDITABLE! Yes! You heard me right! I would hate for you to handwrite your students' names, so I made it editable and you can even use the pretty font! Or if not, I gave you access so you can change it to whatever font you have :) Read the instructions on the sheet so you know how to do that :)

If you would like to download this freebie, please click HERE. Also, if you get a chance, please leave me your feedback! I would love to hear what you think of it!! :)

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Thank you for stopping by and I hope to see more of you around my blog! :)


  1. What a great blog post; perhaps most teachers already know stuff like this, but for us newbies... a blog like this is gold. Thank you!
    Yes to the General Binder in Spanish :)

    1. Thank you for your nice comment!! :) I am so happy you found this post "gold". Please check back on this post because I have created the freebie and added some info :)
      Mrs. Nicolau

  2. Yes, for the English and Spanish binder!

    1. yay! Thank you for voting! please check back on this post :) I added the freebie and some info :)
      Mrs. Nicolau