Monday, November 3, 2008

On the Third Day of Christmas...Folder Games!

First of all, I must say that I can't take credit for this idea- my good friend Brooke is the one who was generous enough to share her family's collection of folder games with me (she is such an awesome mom!). Her little ones get very excited when it's time to do folder games. What is a folder game, you ask? Read on and you shall find out...

Brooke has this magic file box filled with over 60 file folders. Upon taking out a folder, attached to the inside you will find instructions for that particular folder game, along with all the materials/objects needed to play the game. Some of the games are more elaborate than others, but some are as simple as this one:

String Fun (pictured above)- Folder contains strings of different lengths and colors and the following instructions:
Ask the child,
a. Which string is longest?
b. Which string is shortest?
c. Put the string on the floor in a line
i. Walk forward on the line
ii. Walk backward on the line
iii. Jump over the line
d. Put the string on the floor in a circle
i. Hop around outside the circle
ii. Walk on tiptoes around the circle
iii. Walk on heels around the circle
iv. Jump inside and outside the circle

This may seem pretty silly to you, but trust me- to a toddler or preschooler, this is a roaring good time! (Seriously, I did it with my 4-year-old son this afternoon, and he just loved it!) Not to mention that it helps develop their motor skills and helps teach them their shapes, body parts, and directions. 

It would take hardly any time at all to put together a set of 3-5 (or more) of these sorts of games and give them as a gift to a family with young children (or even to your own children!). For older children, you could do more complicated games involving math and reading. You could even continue to give additional folder games for future birthdays and Christmases and eventually give your recipient an entire collection! 

I was at Wal-Mart today, and they have a box of 100 file folders for $3.88. However, they were not great quality, so I picked up a box of 24 (higher quality = will last longer) for $4.88, along with a cool little vinyl zipper pouch big enough for files for $1.88. For $2.69 you could give someone 4 folder games in a zipper storage pouch (not counting any supplies, like felt, stickers, or fabric that you might not have on hand). 
As a mom, I know that sometimes I am just at a loss for things to do with my little ones. These games are an easy, fun, and educational way to interact with your kids and share some special time together. 

Here are a few more of my favorites:

 Concentration Stickers- Folder contains cards with stickers on them, 2 of each sticker
a. Place cards on table with sticker-side face down. Pick up two cards. If the stickers match, you keep them and pick two more cards. If the stickers do not match, you put the cards back and it’s your opponent’s turn.
b. Keep playing until all cards are matched.

Mailman- Folder contains brown paper “mail bag” and 5 envelopes with names and addresses, along with a bag containing 5 different colored and numbered houses (ex: envelope reads: Princess Alice, 16 Castle Road, London England; match with small castle cutout with number 16 on it); other houses: igloo, teepee, hut, regular house
a. Place houses around a room or in different rooms in the house. Have the child place the envelopes in the appropriate locations (matching the numbers on the envelopes to those on the houses).
Counting Apple Trees- Folder contains 10 numbered cards with felt trees on them, 12 circular red felt “apples” (you could even just make one tree attached to the inside of the folder, and have cards with numbers on them for the child to pick)
a. Place the correct number of apples on each tree

Get Rich- Folder contains bag with paper coins, each marked with amount (1, 5, 10, 25 cents), each amount a different color
a. Roll die. Calculate money amount according to chart and withdraw that amount. At the end of the time or number of turns, player who is richest wins.
b. Chart for die rolls:
i. 1 = 1 cent
ii. 2 = 5 cents
iii. 3 = 10 cents
iv. 4 = 20 cents
v. 5 = 25 cents
vi. 6 = 50 cents

Just Suppose- Folder has bag containing cutout images of different animals (kangaroo, cat, elephant, whale, owl, frog)
a. Just suppose you were a _______. How would you walk, talk, eat, run, crawl, sing, laugh, cry, etc.?

 Sink or Float- When open, folder has sink image on left side, float image on right
a. Open folder and stand it up in front of child. Place a bowl of water between the child and the folder. Let the child drop items from around the house into the bowl one at a time. Have the child retrieve the objects and place them in front of the appropriate side of the folder.

Feel the Fabric Game- Folder contains 5 matching pairs of scrap material with distinct textures
a. There are 5 pairs of scrap material. Spread the pairs on the table and divide the pairs into 2 areas.
b. Close your eyes and move the scraps around in each area. With your eyes still closed, match the scraps by feeling them with your hands only. Stack the pairs in front of you.

As far as additional recommendations, just try to use games that are age-appropriate, don't hesitate to get creative and make up your own games, and for added durability you can use lamination on all or parts of each game. Ziplock bags also work well when stapled inside the folder to hold small game pieces.

Can you think of a good folder game?


  1. I'm glad that you had a chance to put these together. I bet yours look so nice- the one in the picture did! I've thought about redoing mine to update them and make them more aesthetically- pleasing, but I always change my mind because my kids don't seem to notice that they are old and not as neat as they could be. They would make good gifts. Seriously, great fun learning tools!

  2. I will make couple of them for my son's teacher. She always is looking for fun stuff for the kids.

  3. found you from The Small Notebook. This is so cool, thanks for sharing.

  4. This is such a creative idea! it reminds me of something my mom would have had for us! I better get started on Christmas gifts! Thanks again!

  5. I also just found you through The Small Notebook. What a great idea, and your blog looks great. I'll be coming abck for more ideas!

  6. Thanks so much to all those who have found me from The Small Notebook, a delightful site I didn't know about until I received so many nice comments from people who saw Rachel's kind recommendation for my post. Welcome to my blog, and I hope to continue to provide useful, thrifty information to you all! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to look at all of my Christmas Gift ideas under the "Topics" section. :-)

  7. This is a fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing! I have a three year old, and I know she and her friends will really enjoy this.

  8. I'm also here from Small Notebook. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  9. Also here via Rachel and I LOVE THESE!! Thanks for sharing!


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