Hi all! I know it’s been a little while, but I do want to share a nifty school supply idea I had that works wonders for my 3-year-old when it comes to learning to read: a home-made pocket chart.

Now, I’ve been wanting a pocket chart for ages but neither had the money to purchase a store-bought one, nor the time to sew one myself. Wellllll…I was browsing the Dollar Tree about a month ago (surprised? πŸ˜€ ), and found some trading card pocket sheets for a 3-ring binder. They also had 2’x3′ sheets of foam core (you could also use poster board if you need to roll it up and put it away much more easily; the foam core simply fits under or behind our couch, and I just grab which ever board I need at the time πŸ˜‰ ), which I snagged up a sheet of black. They also had word strips–blank, as well as printed; I picked up packages of pre-k, kindergarten, and 1st grade words, because the pre-k and kindergarten words are all in the Dick & Jane readers I use when teaching beginning reading. I then brought everything home, and set aside the word cards for later.

On with the instructions! You will need:

  • foam core board
  • trading card sheet protectors to fit a 3-ring binder
  • clear packing tape (not the fiberglass reinforced kind)
  • scissors, optional

Supplies for pocket chart

Lay out your board on a flat surface. Arrange the sheet protectors to fill the board. On a 2’x3′ board, I was able to fit 6 sheet protectors, overlapping the holes.

First layer

First layer of trading card sheets

Make sure you start with the bottom layer. The sheet protectors should be laid sidewise with the binder holes on top, and the pocket openings on top as well–if you have it arranged as I do, the bottom seam of the sheet protectors should be left-facing and the pocket openings pointing to the right.

Take your packing tape and, without moving the sheet protectors from the edges of the board, tape across the binder holes of the protectors. DO NOT go below the margin line or you will tape across pocket openings, and your pocket chart will not function properly! (um, please don’t ask me how I know this…moving on…)

Taped sheet

Tape on the border

Next, add another layer of sheet protectors. You will want to line them up, over-lapping the binder holes of the previous row. Holding each in place, tape this row as you did the last row.

Beginning of second layer

Carefully add short lengths of tape on the bottom edges of the 2nd layer of sheet protectors, taping them vertically to the first layer. The photo to the right does not show the tape well, but it’s there.

Now, tape the left edge of the board, covering the left edge of the pockets on the first and second layers, and wrap the tape around to the back of the board. The photo below shows this step, and gives a better example of how short the pieces of tape must be in order to keep the pockets open.

Flip the board over, and run a strip of tape across the ends of the tape that had been run down the pockets–this prevents the tape from coming back up and pulling away from the other side.

the finished pocket chart

To use: Take your word cards and arrange them as desired within the pockets. When I play with Bug, I only pull out the words she knows as well as a few she is learning. I include all our names as well as pets’ names and extended family, and make a single simple sentence at a time. There are lots of other uses for this pocket chart. If you have other ideas on how to use it, please leave a comment and share what you end up doing with yours. πŸ™‚

Have a good week, all!