Game time! Okay, well not exactly game "time," rather how I ORGANIZE my games. In my last post, I talked about how I like to keep my games/centers in my file cabinets. This post will give you a little more info on what, exactly, is in those drawers!
In order to keep my games long-lasting, I like to start with a manila envelope for storage. I put the cover page on the front, and the directions page on the back (if there is a separate directions page). I put a small piece of double-stick tape on the pages to keep them steady, then I send it though the school's laminator! I make sure the laminator is on a very slow speed and it is very hot. I send the envelope through bottom-first. This way any air in the envelope is pushed out during the laminating process.
Once the envelope is laminated and cut around the edges, I take my X-acto knife and re-slit the opening to the envelope. Be careful not to cut too deep and go all the way through the envelope! I add a Velcro dot for closure. Voila!
Prior to laminating my game pieces, I make sure to label them with a set number. That way, when a random card is found laying on the floor (as they usually do!) we can easily find the set it belongs to. I just lightly write the set number in pencil. So easy!
I bag up my sets, and pop them in my envelope. There is usually space in the envelope for any copies of a recording sheet that might accompany the game/center. Now I'm ready to go!
"What's in My Pocket" game from Money Mayhem
I usually make 5 sets of any math games that I make. Since I pair my kids up within my group, and my group never has more than 10 kids in it, 5 sets is just enough! For reading games, I make 3 sets of each game, since I never have more than 6 kids in a reading group.
Sometimes a manila envelope just doesn't cut it when it comes to preparing games, because the games have a large amount of cards or other materials that won't fit into an envelope. When this happens, I use a clear poly-folder. It is larger and has the ability to stretch width-wise.
At times I have games that do not need to be printed in color. When this happens, I use colored paper to differentiate my sets. That gives the game a pop of color, and keeps all my sets separated for easy clean up!
Ten Frame Top-It (Everyday Math)
It can be difficult to keep track of all the math and ELA games I have, especially when I'm planning lessons at home. Then I discovered the Book Crawler app! I LOVE using BooksApp to categorize all my read aloud books, but I didn't want to add my games into that app because I wanted them to be completely separate. So I researched other apps that were similar and came across Book Crawler. There is a free version, but it will only allow you to add up to 25 books.
Of course, it is time consuming if you have a lot of games/centers (which I do!) but taking the time is SO worth it. Nothing like having information at my fingertips to help me plan more efficiently.
Where the book title would normally go in this app, I put the title of my game. You can also snap a picture on your phone and add that image in. LOVE me some good visuals!
There is also a "subtitle" area in the app. This is where I put the creator of the game. Many of these centers came from a larger bundle of centers and I wanted to be able to easily go back into my computer and find the file so I could print any recording worksheets I might need. Also, if a friend ever asks where I got the game from, I can easily refer them to the blogger and/or TPT product.
You can search within this app for your book "collections." In the collection field, I put the skill that the game applies to (i.e. contractions, r-controlled vowels, addition, time, etc.). So when I'm planning my Math Workshop unit on place value, I can see what games/centers I already have prepared.
There is also a section in which you can put the book's genre. In the "genre" section I put the holiday or specific time of year (fall, winter, etc.) that the game correlates with. That way, when Valentines Day is coming up, I can easily find the games that are Valentines themed.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about some of my organizational ideas!