August 21, 2019

Green Teaching: Page Protectors to the Rescue

Wanting to do your ecological part in the classroom and needing to conserve supplies at the same time? Then maybe it’s time to give some serious consideration to repurposing the standard paper sheet protector.

Traditionally used for keeping black-line masters in good condition, portfolio assessment or corporate presentations, these little gems can help you save money, preparation time and yes, paper. Following are some ways to use them effectively in today’s classroom.

Read-aloud play preservation.

Big on readers’ theater in your program? Print them out, along with companion glossaries, and place the individual collated copies into color coordinated three-hole report covers. You know, the kind you can get at ten for a buck during the back to school sales? Not only can these be used year after year, but the covers will look great for performances in the park or your basic blue jean classroom theater production at open house night.

Streamlined activity sheet use.

Needing to limit photocopies and still really wanting to work in some vocabulary puzzles and small group math quizzes? Print out enough copies for your desired size of activity group (I prefer four-six students) and place each one in a plastic sheet protector. Use water based overhead markers or traditional grease pencils for students to work with. Correct together during group time and erase for the next group. Green. Cheap. Easy. Extra bonus? I dare say more than a few parents will thank you for limiting the nightly paper storm.

Center activities.

Got some printouts with answer keys for things like spelling word search puzzles, math facts, and science questions? Print out two-three sets of each and slide them back to back into sheet protectors. One side will show the blank activity page for students to work on, and the other will have the answers. Using the same strategy mentioned above of grease pencils and overhead markers, let children work together or independently on the sheets. They can correct their own work and practice skills throughout the week to get ready for quizzes and tests.

Organizing classroom communication.

Having a small three ring binder with a sheet protector for each student gives you a place to house all of those paper scrap notes from parents, notes from the nurse, etc. You never know when you are going to be called on to document a pattern or confirm your side of a miscommunication with a parent or administrator. If you end up not needing the info, just get rid of the file items at the end of the year. If you do need it however, you’ll have your proverbial ducks in a row.

Activity sheet protection for outdoor nature activities.

If you have a younger group who may find it challenging to constantly copy directions off the board, print out simple, easy to follow directions for the activity and put them in sheet protectors. Let them work individually, with a buddy or in a group to complete the activity without the page ending up in shreds. First grade educators, are you with me? With this strategy you get to have a successful day along with your students. This also works for maps when traveling or doing rainy day hikes with older PE students. It’s also one of my husband’s favorite travel tips for when we are on the road.

Instant Individual White Boards.

Love this idea! Wish I’d thought of it myself years ago. But I have to come clean. I actually found it when researching this post. Just use this link and scroll down until you see the activity titled “instant white boards”. Basically, in order for each student to have their own “white board”, you need enough smooth finish sheet protectors for each learner to have one, an equal number of sheets of 8 x 11 inch card stock, and erasable markers. To erase the kids can either use tissues, or their own recycled foot portion of an old athletic sock. I would think it might also be helpful to tape off the top open slot with horizontally placed scotch tape to keep it sealed. These are great for sentence dictation, math problems on the fly, daily language correction activities and more. To keep classroom management concerns at bay, consider collecting them after each group use, or having each student keep theirs in a 3-ring resource binder where such things are stored for quick hassle free classroom access.

Organizational support for those home and school binders.

While I never used these during my classroom years, I know of several colleagues who managed them effectively. Having a few included in each one for loose notes and routinely swapped communication documents can save you loads of follow up stress.

So that’s it, readers. My best efforts at using page protectors to streamline your classroom management and paper consumption issues. That being said, I know there are loads of talented educators out there with slamming ideas as well. Feel free to contribute any additional suggestions you might have in the comments section so we can all benefit from your expertise.

Flickr Photo Credit: TXD


  1. [...] cut from large pieces of shower stall board, or make bargain white boards with copy paper and sheet protectors. Use appropriate writing utensils and make sure students each have an old sock to erase their [...]

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