How to Keep Student Folders Neat

I noticed that even after giving my students folders for their morning work, their papers were simply destroyed at the end of the week when they turned them in. I realized that the main reason for this was that first graders don't know how to properly put papers into folders. While they attempt to cram each sheet into one of the two folder pockets, most students' papers will inevitably look like a paper factory explosion after being "put away" in their folder.

To solve this, I think I've come up with a quick and easy hack for teaching students how to make sure their papers stay neat in their folders:

Take a highlighter, or in this case below, a thick Crayola marker, and draw a line along the seam/fold line of each folder. 


Instruct students to make sure the entire length of the yellow line (or whatever color you choose) is visible before closing their folders.  This gives students a visual self-check when putting papers away.  

This hasn't immediately fixed the problem of messy papers for every one of my firsties, but it has definitely helped about half the class become better organized with their folders since I introduced this idea several weeks ago.  I had to remind students constantly at first, asking, "Can you see your folder's yellow line?" but their necessity for reminders has lessened each day. 

Try it!  It will take you less than 5 minutes to mark your students' folders, and even if it helps half your class, that's a huge battle won against the paper monster right there.