DIY Ziploc Flashcard Pouch

Almost every teacher I know has the uncanny ability to take common household supplies and turn them into some sort of classroom supply. One of my favorite DIY student materials is a Ziploc flashcard pouch. Over the past few years, I manufactured DIY Ziploc flashcard pouches for back to school. Using quart-sized Ziploc bags and some duct tape, I make a pouch that clips into student binders to hold loose materials.

At the beginning of the year, I give each student a pouch to hold vocabulary and grammar flashcard rings in their binders. The pouches also work well for math facts flashcards, sight word flashcards, username/PW information for school apps, and a variety of other everyday classroom items. Written directions are below or watch THIS 5-MINUTE VIDEO that walks you through the steps.

flashcard-pouch-materials

Flashcard Pouch Materials

  • quart-sized Ziploc bags (go for heavy duty, so they don’t rip before the end of the school year)
  • duct tape in a fun color/pattern (I like Duck Tape brand that has the crazy patterns)
  • single hole punch
  • sharp scissors
  • one piece of notebook paper to measure the distance to punch holes

DIY Ziploc bag flashcard pouch

Flashcard Pouch Directions

  • Put one Ziploc bag on a flat surface, opening at the top and the front of the bag facing up.
  • Eyeball the length of a piece of duct tape that reaches from the bottom of the Ziploc bag to the “collar” or area where the bag snaps together.

flashcard-pouch-duck-tape-strip

  • Cut the length of duct tape you need and place the duct tape on the flat surface, sticky side up.
  • Place Ziploc bag on top of the sticky side of the duct tape only covering half of the width of the tape strip.

flashcard-pouch-duckt-tape-strip-folded

  • Fold the remaining exposed part of the duct tape strip over the top of the plastic bag, so the left edge is covered with a strip of duct tape.
  • Hold the notebook paper with the bottom two holes over the duct taped edge of the bag. Line up the bottom of the piece of notebook paper with the bottom edge of the Ziploc bag.

flashcard-pouch-hole-punch

  • Hole punch two holes into the Ziploc bag.
  • Clip into binder.

 

Foldable Mini Books

 

As most all teachers do over the summer, I have been tinkering with student materials (when I should be catching up with missed doctors’ appointments and bathroom cleaning and dog hair vacuuming– or even enjoying a day at the pool). I want a student-made dictionary style resource for commonly misspelled words for my students next year. Ideally, the spelling notes will be in some kind of individual booklet that each student could add to all year. I may have found a solution– a sturdy little mini foldable booklet.

foldable mini book

I called in my temp help to see if the mini books would work, and team RoomMom has been printing, cutting, folding, and testing all day.

mini books materials

Materials

  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ white cardstock OR 4×6 notecards
  • scissors
  • rubberband (medium sized)
  • paper cutter with ruler guidelines

Directions

  • If you are using an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of cardstock, cut it in half horizontally and vertically, so you have 4 pieces of cardstock that are 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″. Fold each piece of cardstock in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 5 1/2″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

mini books divide paper

  • If you are using notecards, fold 2+ notecards in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 6″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

spelling mini books folded

  • Once each card is folded, stack the cards on top of each other lining them up evenly. I think 3-4 cards is about the right amount for each booklet. You can use a combination of notecards and cardstock. ** Make sure your sizes match if you are mixing cardstock and notecards.
  • Following the center fold, cut a 1/2″ notch from the top and bottom edge of the stack of cards.

mini books cut knotch

  • Wrap a rubberband around the stack of cards. Have the rubberband sit down into the cut sections of paper to act as the mini book binding. If the rubberband is too tight and pulling on the paper, cut your notches a little deeper.

mini books rubberband

  • Decorate the cover and add notes, drawings, information, doodles… to each page of the booklet.

mini books sampleUses

  • I set up a template in Word and inserted the spelling information I needed. I printed front and back, cut down the paper, and folded the pieces into the booklet. There is space for students to add additional notes, but they will each have a starter booklet.

spelling mini books notes

  • Mr. Star Wars wrote a personal narrative about our trip to North Carolina last summer. Using the Word document template, we inserted pictures and printed the pages (it takes a little spatial thinking to get your pictures on the pages in the order you want when you assemble the booklet). He handwrote the story using the printed pictures as enhancement. This would be a great back to school activity. Students could use a blank booklet and write and illustrate a story about something they did over the summer. You could also use the booklet as a way to assess summer reading by having students create a book review in a mini book.foldable mini book
  • Miss Priss used her booklet to report facts about elephants. This was an end of year project for her. She took her researched information, grouped it by topic, and wrote bulleted facts on each page.

mini book elephantThe spelling mini book template with pre-printed notes for 31 tricky words like there, their, and they’re is now available in my Commonly Misspelled Words product at my teacher store. CLICK HERE to purchase.

Hooking the Reader

topic sentences activity

Writing the first sentence

Starting a writing assignment is the hardest part

Sometimes, the first sentence is the hardest part of writing for me. Most of my students feel the same way. To cope, they revert to the default starter sentence, “This is my story about _____.” Or, if I am lucky, I get the alternate topic sentence, “I am going to tell you about _____.” Both of these options pain me. I am working hard this year to banish bad topic sentences.

Students can write catchy topic sentences if they see lots of examples that grab their attention. Recently, my students researched one aspect of a Native American tribe and wrote an article about their topic. After they researched but before they began drafting their articles, I had the students flip through my magazine collection. To complete the Magazine Hook Sample Activity, the kids looked for 3 feature articles in different magazines and copied the first sentence only.

sample hook sentences from magazinesAfter collecting a big list of first sentences, we shared and discussed. When we compared the topic sentences, we looked at sentence structure and word choice. We made predictions about the content of the article based on the first sentence. We made a chart that listed conventions the writers used that we liked. We also generated a list of things published writers did NOT do. After the students reviewed lots of examples of good starter sentences, they were let loose to write their own topic sentences for their feature articles. The first sentences were not all publisher ready, but students did create sentences with a little sizzle to them.

Here are some of our favorite topic sentences we found in published articles:

  • Suppose—just suppose—that beings from outer space have landed in your community.
  • Golden lion tamarins grow up fast.
  • Not everyone thinks that prosthetists like Carroll are doing the right things when they meddle in the lives of injured animals.
  • A dark-green fringed leaf frog croaks softly as it sits on a tree branch in a wooded area of Brazil.
  • A small, shy cat peers out from its hiding place of dense cover in thorny shrubs in south Texas.
  • Tucked inside a nest made of moss, two young southern flying squirrels cling to each other.
  • These Halloween treats may be sugar free, but they are still super sweet.
  • Wildfires are unpredictable.
  • On a small street in Philadelphia in the 1920s, there was a factory owned by the Fleer family.

Here are a few tips for writing a good hook courtesy of my fourth graders:

  • Use an unusual sentence structure. Try having a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence. Use a really short sentence to gain attention. Mix up the word order, so it does not follow the subject then verb format.
  • Use key vocabulary words related to the topic.
  • Avoid words like very, nice, good
  • Use active verbs in the topic sentence. However, if you are trying the short-sentence-for-effect technique, you might use a linking verb like is, was, or are with an interesting adjective choice.
  • Use poetic devices like alliteration or onomatopoeia.

The finished articles were part of a Native American magazine project. As with sooo many of my projects, the magazine assignment became much bigger than I originally intended. However, when I saw the finished products, I was impressed. The final magazines looked like they came from a real printer.

Native American magazine covers

Native American magazine interior