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8 Innovative Ways to Organize Take-Home Folders

Keep classroom communication organized with these take home folder ideas from teachers.

homework folders ideas

The take-home folder is one of the most important and essential elements in the home/school relationship. Often times, it’s your best tool for communicating with parents. If you can get your students in the habit of using it every day, it can really help your organization and communication in the classroom. We gathered up some of our favorite take-home folder ideas from teachers around the web. We hope they help inspire you in your classroom this year.

1. Lend a Hand This take home folder helps kids and parents stay organized in a really easy way. Your students can trace their hands in different colors and then paste them to the inside of the folder. This should help them get in the habit of what to keep and send back.

Take Home Folder Organized

How do you organize and store your take-home folders?

8 innovative ways to organize take-home folders

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Take home folders: part 1.

homework folders ideas

I really love how you set up your folders! Thanks for the great ideas. Where did you get those amazing green folders??

Paige- Office Depot!

How do you get your labels to stay on? I've tried them on poly folders and they seem to fall off.

Courtney- I've found the smooth plastic folders work the best! The ones that have a lot of texture stick, but the ends can peel up. Also, make sure you buy the GOOD labels! :) Hope that helps!

Is this ediatable enough to change to spanish? It's so unfortunate there aren't any spanish resources and I don't have time to create any...... :(

I have something very similar, however, this hits it right out the park! "GO" Ms. Liz!

Love this idea!! I will hopefully start teaching in September. I have already put this in my TPT cart to buy once I'm hired. Thank you!

I did the same for my 1st graders one year, but mine said, "to be LEFT at home," "to be sent RIGHT back." They were placed on the LEFT and RIGHT sides of the folder.

homework folders ideas

Language & Grammar

homework folders ideas

Science & Social Studies

homework folders ideas

Digital Learning

Homework folders for primary students.

homework folders ideas

Homework has always been something that I’ve created at the last minute for the students. In the past, it usually ended up being an activity or reading passage that we didn’t get to finish for the day. But then, I wanted to more intentional about my homework. And I wanted to make sure I gave my kids an opportunity to spiral review their prior standards.  Click to read this blog post about spiraling your homework!   So, here we go. Let’s talk about setting up homework folders for primary students!

homework folders ideas

All students will get a homework folder. Homework folders should be the plastic material, which is a little more expensive, but if students are using them throughout the year, these hold up best.

homework folders ideas

(Affiliate Link:  Amazon Folders )I suggest going with the plastic covered ones. They tend to stick around and stay in one piece the longest. I also suggest the three prongs on the inside, so that you can hole punch the homework and attach it to the middle. If you don’t have the three prongs, no worries. You can just slide the homework behind your assignment sheet.

homework folders ideas

Click the image to grab this  FREEBIE !

3 pronged folder

Start with a three-prong folder. Plastic will work best because it’ll keep a little better than the paper folders.

Homework organization for elementary students.

On the left side of the folder, place the assignment list for the entire week.

Homework Folders for Primary Students

On the right side of the folder, place the book the child is reading for the week. They have 15 minutes of nightly reading assigned to them, so that’ll be the easiest way to keep up with the book. The picture on the right shows me pointing to the area that parents sign to keep the children accountable for their reading.

How to set up a homework folder with a FREE folder labels.

Take the Math, Reading, Writing, and Language/Foundations and place them into the three prongs. Front/back is suggested to save paper!

Homework Folders for Primary Students

This is a glimpse at one week of second grade with the assignment sheet (which is on the left of your folder), plus the four sheets of work (which either goes into the prongs or into the right side).

Homework Resources

Third grade weekly homework bundle

Kindergarten Entire Year Link

First Grade Entire Year Link

Second Grade Entire Year Link

Third Grade Entire Year Link

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How to spiral homework

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Home » BLOG » Taking the Work out of Homework

Taking the Work out of Homework

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please read our disclosure here .

homework folders ideas

1. The Homework Folder

homework folders ideas

Homework Helpers: 

homework folders ideas

2. Communicate With Parents

homework folders ideas


  •  Find a place to keep your child’s Homework Folder in your home.  Have a shelf, basket, or bin that it goes in every Monday or keep it in your child’s binder if that is easiest for your family.
  •  I will only check homework on Fridays.  If it is not turned one week, I will expect to check two weeks of homework the following week.
  • There are 4 activities in each week of homework.  These activities can be completed each day OR in one sitting…it is up to you and your child.
  •   If a Homework Folder is lost, it is you responsibility to replace the folder.  I will replace the labels for your child.
  •   If the packet is not inside the Homework Folder it will not be checked.  I offer a reward for students that complete a month of homework, so it is important that their packet be kept in the folder.

homework folders ideas

 3.  The Homework Packet

Monthly packets.

homework folders ideas

4. Develop a System

Student procedures.

homework folders ideas

Parent Procedures

homework folders ideas

Teacher Procedures

homework folders ideas

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Uncategorized   |   Nov 19, 2011

Fun Folders: a meaningful, student-centered way to assign homework practice

homework folders ideas

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Looking for an easy homework system that gives kids enjoyable and meaningful assignments? Try Fun Folders! This page will tell you how to create, implement, manage, and assess a homework program.

What are fun folders?


Fun Folders are a homework system I created several years ago by writing open-ended activities on file folders.  Students pick out a different folder to take home each night.  They complete the folder’s activity on a sheet of notebook paper and fill out the tracking form reflection on the front of the chart so they know which folders they’ve completed.

What kinds of homework activities are in fun folders?

Anything you want! Though my Fun Folders were always based on state standards, I used stickers, kids’ magazines, photos, and all sorts of other things as inspiration for creating interesting activities. I’d save up new materials as I found them, and then about once a month, I’d make new Fun Folders while relaxing in front of the T.V. in the evening. They were actually very enjoyable to create–much better than grading homework worksheets! The slideshow below shows some photographs of Fun Folders so you can get an idea of how they work:

9 reasons to convince parents and principals that the fun folder system works!

  •  The system allows families to see the wide variety of skills in the curriculum and become more familiar with state standards.
  • It ensures that each child practices one or more state standards nightly (objectives are always written on the back of the folders).
  • There is no busywork assigned just for the sake of having homework.
  • It allows for differentiated homework practice. Folders are leveled, with a thirty-minute timeframe for completion so that students who work at a slower pace do not have to spend an unreasonable amount of time on homework, and all charts have challenge activities to make the activity more rigorous as needed.
  • There is an easy-to-remember routine: homework is in the same general format each week and takes about the same amount of time to complete each night, providing the child has no incomplete class work to take home.
  • It eliminates photocopies, saving teachers time, saving schools money, and saving the planet’s resources!
  • It doesn’t penalize students for not understanding concepts or not having someone at home to help, because Fun Folder work is not given letter grades (charts are shared with the class, credit is awarded for completed tracking forms and attempts to complete the activities, and actual Fun Folder work is collected for portfolios.)
  • It allows for distributed practice, meaning that students must retain their knowledge of skills and concepts all year to complete the Fun Folders (rather than completing homework only the current chapter, testing, and forgetting!)
  • It’s fun for kids!!

How fun folders fit into a class homework program

Fun Folders can be the entire homework program or just part of it. In the 2002-2003 school year, I used them as the main homework assignments all year; the only other homework students had was to read self-selected materials nightly. In 2005-2006, I gave more traditional homework at the beginning of the year and used Fun Folders after our state standardized testing was done in early March.

I continued using Fun Folders even after I started making homework due on a weekly basis instead of nightly, with assignments always given and collected on Fridays so students had a full 7 days to complete them. I had each child pick 1 folder of each type (math, reading, and writing) and complete the folders by the end of the week (in addition to self-selected reading and spelling practice as needed).  They loved it and I could tell they were really benefiting from the skills practice.

In later years, I sometimes used the Fun Folders as extra practice and reinforcement, optional homework, and even centers because the kids enjoyed them so much.

Collecting and assessing fun folders

Typically I had children share their work each morning with a partner, then turn in the work for my review and trade folders. This system gave students accountability for their work and allowed them to talk about what they learned. I often heard students say things like, “Yeah, I did that folder! This part was tricky–let me see what you did,” and “I want to do that folder tonight! How did you figure out the first part?” It was great to hear the kids exchanging strategies and generating more enthusiasm for homework practice!

When I collected homework weekly, I would often have little mini-conference with each child as I looked through their work on Fridays. Fun Folders were graded on completeness and were not checked for accuracy (though I could easily skim over them and notice if there were any glaring errors–since I made the folders, I had a good idea of what was on them!) I have always marked homework as either complete or incomplete, and Fun Folders were no exception. Completed Fun Folder work was saved in student portfolios, which students filed and organized themselves.

Keeping folders organized/using tracking forms

My folders were kept in a file box, which was almost empty most of the time because the children have the folders in their binders to be taken home.  I used a  tracking form  that was simply glued to the front and back of the folder (or stapled just to the front so state standards were visible on the back.) There was a space for each child’s assigned student number. After completing the folder, they would write a short reflection sentence next to their number (I liked…, I learned…I thought this chart was…, etc.) This would not only give me and the other kids feedback about how the chart worked, but gave students a record of which charts they had completed so they wouldn’t take the same chart twice.

Leveling the fun folders

The first year that I used Fun Folders, I had the Talented and Gifted (TAG) inclusion students, so differentiation was very important. I leveled my folders with a little check mark next to the title on the side of the file folder.

Green check mark folders were easy folders with very basic fact practice or below-grade-level work. Blue check mark folders were appropriate for everybody and comprised 90% of the folders I made. Red check mark folders required more time and higher-level thinking questions than were typically required of third graders.  Students were allowed to choose any folders they wanted and picked appropriately the vast majority of the time.

Students were taught that they could stop working on a folder if it took longer than 30 minutes to complete, as folders were designed to take between 10-20 minutes.  Parents were to indicate next to their signature on the homework assignment sheet/student agenda book that thirty minutes had passed and the student had been working diligently but was unable to finish.  There was no penalty for this.

A note about the origin of fun folders

The inspiration for this program was the Choose-A-Chart program designed by a fabulous third grade teacher in Canada, Michael Moore. Michael has since removed his website and all teaching resources from the web, so I can’t link to his original idea anymore, but there is some information saved at  Real Classroom Ideas  if you’re interested. There are a few differences between his charts and my Fun Folders:

  • Mr. Moore used chart paper and mine are done on file folders, which I chose because it takes me too long to write in large print on charts (as you can see, my  small  print is messy enough!) and I thought they might be a bit cumbersome compared to the folders.
  • Mr. Moore starts fresh each school year, making brand new charts customized for his particular group of students, and uses their names often in the charts.  While this was my original intention, I had put so much work into my charts that I thought it would be a shame to re-make them all  each year. Almost every chart was re-used from year to year to save time.
  • Because I wanted to re-use my charts, and the fact that I used a lot of stickers and papers glued onto them, I laminated my charts.  Mr. Moore rightfully points out that this is expensive and a bit wasteful, but I have been able to be more creative with the materials I use to enhance the charts because I know the laminate will protect them. Most charts lasted 3-5 years.
  • All of my charts include state standards listed on the back and optional challenge activities for those families who want extension ideas for homework assignments.

Angela Watson

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Pinning this for TBA…Love it!

Thank you, Laral! 🙂 I’m not sure I follow the TBA pins…what is the link?

Love this idea! How many file folders have you made? How many do you a typical class would need to send one a week home for the whole school year?

Hi, Anj! You need 1 per student to start, plus a few extra so that everyone has a choice and no one has to re-do a chart they’ve already taken. For a class of 25, 30 is a good starting point. I used to spend a Sunday afternoon creating 5 or 6 new once a month–the kids would get so excited when I cam in on Monday with new folders! Eventually I would start taking the older, easier ones out of the rotation and adding in new things the kids had learned. The second year I used them, I only created about 15 new folders the whole year.

I love this idea! I’m implementing centers in my classroom this year and these would be perfect! I couldn’t find the power point you mentioned to see some folder examples. I’m a second year teacher and could use some help with folder activity ideas. Thanks!!!!!!

Hello Angela, I was so happy when I stumbled on this old post of yours! I remember seeing something very similar to this years and years ago on the now defunct website of a Mr. Moore, a Canadian teacher, and have been trying to find his new site. I think he did his on chart and butcher paper but the same concept. I’m hitting my head and asking myself why I didn’t think of using file folders! THank you! –

Yes, Mr. Moore! His site has been gone for at least a decade. I have searched for him everywhere online, and found nothing. He called them Choose-A-Charts.

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  1. 8 Innovative Ways to Organize Take-Home Folders

    We gathered up some of our favorite take-home folder ideas from teachers around the web. We hope they help inspire you in your classroom this year. 1. Lend a Hand This take home folder helps kids and parents stay organized in a really easy way. Your students can trace their hands in different colors and then paste them to the inside of the folder.

  2. Take Home Folders: Part 1

    To learn more about the 5-Step System I use for Take Home Folders, check out Part 2 of this series. Please also check out my Take Home Folder VIDEO to get more ideas and details on setting up, organizing, and managing folders in the primary classroom.

  3. Homework Folders for Primary Students

    Homework Resources. Learn how to setup homework folders for primary students. Check out how to organize, prioritize, and create meaningful homework assignments.

  4. Taking the Work out of Homework

    1. The Homework Folder Start the year off right and have your homework ready to go. With this homework system, there will be less work throughout the year if you take care of it now. Here is how I prepped my Homework Folders before the first day of school … Folders: In order for homework to be organized, you have to have an organizer.

  5. 10 Helpful Homework Ideas and Tips for Primary School

    Homework Folders. Creating homework folders for your students to keep their important homework information in is a fantastic way to encourage a sense of ownership and develop their independence. Below is an example of what you might like to include in a lower years homework folder including a ring of sight words for students to practise at home.

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  7. Truth For Teachers

    Fun Folders: a meaningful, student-centered way to assign homework practice By Angela Watson Founder and Writer Looking for an easy homework system that gives kids enjoyable and meaningful assignments? Try Fun Folders! This page will tell you how to create, implement, manage, and assess a homework program. What are fun folders?