Homework Folder System In Kindergarten

I’m a big fan of teaching responsibility in kindergarten. One big example: you won’t find me stuffing folders – my students are capable of doing that themselves.

Want to know my secrets? I think there are a few things you can do to make a daily folder setup successful and easy for kindergartners (and their parents) to use.

Here is how we had our folders set up and why.

If you love the way we have it set up – you can totally purchase the same printable labels used in the pictures to recreate it for your classroom too!

Kindergarten Daily Folder

Our folders are taken home every day and brought back to school. I choose (affiliate) “poly” plastic folders to last all year long. They are the two pocket kind with fasteners.

We get them out of backpacks in the morning as we filter into the classroom. They stay in our cubbies throughout the day. We organize and put them in backpacks at the end of the day.

We do it everyday. It’s part of our routine.

Let me walk you through the folder. Our daily folder has 4 main parts.

Front Pocket

Our kindergarten daily folder has a front pocket. The purpose of the front pocket it to organize daily papers to take home. My kinders are responsible for putting their papers in. Some examples are:

  • School newsletters/flyers
  • Lunch menus
  • Completed work done in class

Pretty much all of the “stuff” that we get in the course of a day or comes from the office goes home in this pocket. Parents sort through and take it out (hopefully) daily or regularly.

How I Made It

All I did to make this section was to add an “EMPTY” label onto the pocket and a one-line explanation. I add a picture icon to the label so that non-readers (aka my brand new kinders) can successfully find/use it.

I printed a class set of the labels and simply stuck it on. I did cover the labels with clear packaging tape (wide enough to cover the label’s height) so that they would last all year long and stand up to grubby kinder hands.

Back Pocket

The folder has a back pocket. We use this pocket to take unfinished work home.

There was a time that we had a weekly homework sheet. They kept it in there and didn’t take it out until Fridays.

When I ditched homework, we simply used the pocket to take home unfinished work (usually due to poor time management) that I expected to get finished.

How I Made It

Making this section was simple! I added a “WORK” label onto the pocket and a one-liner to make it easy for everyone to understand it’s purpose. A picture icon made it early reader friendly.

Now, these pockets weren’t enough organization on a regular basis for me.

I wanted to separate communicating behavior, special events and sending in money/forms/signed papers. We used the middle fasteners (clasps or prongs) to hold an additional pocket and a monthly piece of paper.

Clear Pocket Divider

I added a (affiliate) poly slash pocket to make communication between home and me – stand out. That way notes to/from the teacher didn’t get lost.

You can also snag these (affiliate) plastic dividers with pockets inexpensively too.

As part of their daily routine, kinders would check this pocket daily before putting their folder in their cubbies. If they had “mail” for me they would take it out and place it in my teacher mailbox. I loved teaching this system! It became their responsibility and I only had to check one location (my mailbox) of papers to get through. {Amen to working smart}

As you know how crazy going through papers daily can be – especially if there is a fundraiser, popcorn day or picture day… this totally simplifies it. Everything gets put into one location. Then during our morning routine, I can quickly sort through everything that has been put into my mailbox and then I easily know what (if anything) I’ll need to address or take care of later in the day.

How I Made It

I inserted a pocket into the front of the fasteners. It’s see through, which makes it easy on kinders, parents and teachers. Plus, the shape of the slash pocket means that kinders can slide full-size papers in and out on their own. Aka: they can responsible to do it on their own.

I printed a “MAIL” label and stuck it on. The label has a picture and one line explanation.

Calendar Insert

We kept a hole punched, double sided piece of paper just behind the transparent parent communication mail sleeve. On the front, we had a monthly calendar. On the back, a reading log.

The monthly calendar allowed me to remind students and parents of important events and changes. It was also where my students recorded their behavior color each day. They simply colored on top of the date in the small square provided.

How I Made It

I printed a class set of the month’s calendars with a reading book log (to track at home reading) on the back. I hole punched them and inserted them behind the mail sleeve.

As a side note – I taught students how to open the fasteners. They also learned how to trade out calendars (the old month for the new month) and count their left over green days (and write that number on their new calendar) so they could continue working towards a reward coupon (which they got after 5 green days).

They would turn these into me at the end of the month (in my mailbox). I scanned them to keep a digital copy in order for documentation purposes. They were rewarded for having read at least 10 books when they turned in their reading logs too.

Since I created this system, I knew I needed a way to easily show my students what papers went where on a daily basis. That’s where my daily folder bulletin board came into play! It was my secret to never having to stuff papers again. {silently sings *hallelujah*}

There you have the four main parts of our daily kindergarten folders and why I created each section. You can easily get all of the materials to get the organization going in your classroom too!

I’ll list out the items you might need with affiliate links so you can get started right away.

Items Needed for This Project

These folders play an important part in the end of our day routine. Here’s how I manage an end of the day routine in kindergarten.

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I cannot even begin to express how head of heals, tap dancing around the moon excited I am. I most likely have not come up with this but I did feel oober smart when it hit me.

Let me begin by telling my back story a little. After the first three weeks of school kindergarten begins sending home homework every week. We send it home on Monday and have students return their homework on Friday.

Previously, students would get a blue plastic folder that would have a reading log, three books, and a homework sheet that our team got from some website {closed down now} that provided it based off of Harcourt. *** This was before we moved to Common Core

Then, a fantastic team mate of mine found these amazing clear pockets that we started using. we liked this because we never had to worry about a student dropping everything out. you know that dramatic time when three students go to their mailboxes and pull out their items and as they each take out their folders that hold it upside down and ALL the contents go spilling out on the floor as I desperately try and make a leap *in slow motion* to prevent the horrible disaster from happening. Yeah well. NO MORE FOLKS! However, I wasn't happy still. I would constantly be scrambling for books at the last moment and I would have a huge pile of books that were from last weeks homework that needed to be sorted and accounted for.

It was awful!

I didn't like that I was having to maintain so many different things. I mean... less is more... right!? So last year I decided to make a new system that created only one means of communication with my parents. So back to sweet old Pinterest and I was in absolute awe of all the creative ideas everyone had. I stumbled across this post and knew this was what I needed.

So I made something very similar but using the acronym H.E.R.O. Since my classroom is a superhero theme this just fit so perfect!

I did LOVE this system! I loved that I was able to check my sweeties homework log everyday and their behavior charts all-in-one.

The only thing was... THE BOOKS!

With so many other things happening around me books were the last thing on my mind every week. I was borrowing books from our Reading Lab to hand out as homework, but keeping track of who had which books was crazy! There was absolutely no way that I could remember what books I handed out and to whom. Come Friday morning my little bitties started giving me my books back and there they sat. On my table. In a big pile. Ugh.

So this summer I was bound and determined to find a new system that work for me! Long gone were the days of me running around like a chicken with no head trying to find books at the last minute.

I was sitting on the floor one evening scouring Pinterest for a better way to organize my books I found this cute little picture from the blog What The Teacher Wants.

THEN! It hit me! No really.... like lightning y'all!! The idea of creating a system with these folders was what I needed to come up with. *** Side Note*** I went back afterwards and looked up her post in case you would like to see how she does her system. Precious. Really. 

Okay. So here was my thinking at the time. I needed to have a system of books that were already set up and ready to go. 

So let's say I have 20 kiddos in my class. I would essential need 20 folders to begin with so that every kiddo could take home a beginning folder {until running records are completed}. Then I would simply rotate the folders every week. 

Once students increase in their reading level they are able to go onto the next set of reading folders. 

Here is a breakdown of the total number of books I needed to come up with.

Just remember that the beauty of this system is that you can always add more folders throughout the year! 

So I armed myself with my materials and books from Amazon and I got busy! I was so stinking excited to see these folders come together!! But I was missing a really important key element to this new system. I needed a way to keep track of which students had what folder. 

Thus the checklist was created!

So here is what I was thinking when I made these up. I wanted something that I didn't have to make copies of over and over. I made one sheet for each level. So print and done!

Each sheet has a spot for putting your students name and on top you will see the level and folder number.  

So depending on the day that you give out your homework will determine what you write under the folder name and beside the student's name. That way you will know who has that folder that week.

I am thinking of creating a master spreadsheet with the folder numbers and book list on my computer just in case the folder does not happen to make it back. I can easily refer to the master list and contact that parent.

Once students master that level I can easily cross them off that list and move them to the next level.

My room is in the process of being waxed and painted, and I am crossing my fingers and toes that I will be able to get in next week so that I can get my file cabinet setup and organized with my new homework system. I plan to have the checklist on a clipboard and right in front of all the folders that way I don't misplace anything.

Here is a view of all the folder that are done and laminated.

Y'all I truly feel like this is going to be a fantastic year! I am so stinking excited. So to share my excitement and hopefully get you geared up I am giving you the homework folder cover and back cover and the checklist. Just click on the picture below!

Check me out on YouTube for the video introduction of my homework organization. 

I would LOVE to know what you think! Leave me a comment below and tell me how you organize your homework in your classroom! Bye y'all!!

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