Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}


Teacher planning is part of what we do as teachers to create lessons and plan for students. These are the key items I include in my teacher planning binder. Having a sense of teacher organization and incorporating organization into teacher planning is possible.

How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Readers, I’d like you to meet my sanity saver. This is where I start each year before working in my classroom. My binder. This baby is my planner, organizer and keep-me-sane-inizer. That’s why I’m devoting an entire post to it. No, really, it just plays a huge part in my day and I’m excited to share it in the hopes that it might help that newbie teacher feel a little bit more “above” water. Needless to say, I’ve got lots of things to share.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

My binder generally stays at my desk, but in a pinch I can grab it and head to a meeting if needed, or if I am doing any weekend planning, fold it up – and I’m gone! These are the binder basics that make this my most useful tool every year.


I change the tabs every year to match my current needs. This past year I had a tab for “student teacher” and this year, I am adding my guided math plans. So, my binder will travel to where I meet with groups but I think I’m gonna try this instead of a whole new binder. (Unless the paper stack gets outta control that is.)

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Tabs I have:

  • Lesson Plans
  • Calendar
  • Math Plans
  • Standards
  • Sight Words
  • Centers (Schedule)
  • Writing (Prompts)
  • Meeting Notes
  • Families

Lesson Plans

At the forefront of my binder (and generally where it lays open to all the time) are my lesson plans. I keep a weekly spread format which helps me to have a daily picture and my weekly one all at the same time. I have never actually used a planning book. I’ve just always made my own. I never wanted to write “gym” more than once if I really didn’t have to. {I just like working efficiently that way}

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

view my personal lesson plan template from last year

Here is my favorite thing I’ve learned – I always print double sided, and clip the left hand side pages to the divider. That way when I flip the divider tab, it opens directly to the latest page I’m working on. I do this with every tab! Small thing, but no more flipping through pages unless necessary!

So, during the first week of school, I cut the days into a strip and wear it around my wrist like a bracelet! I do!

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

view my first week of kindergarten school plans from last year

We change activities so frequently and there is no “routine” yet obviously, so I need it to make sure I hit all of the procedural things like a gazillion times. This is my solution. My student teacher used the bracelet factor for something similar this past year when she wanted to keep better track of how many verbal warnings she gave out – she just made herself a paper bracelet to mark tallies on and voila – simple solution!

If you check out these plans you’ll see I reference “Who Took the Cookie” a lot. That is the first theme I use to tie in names to all that we do and get our balanced literacy schedule up and running. I’ve compiled it together in a unit that is available to help make your year start off smoothly.


My calendar comes next and is my “big picture” tool. I desperately needed this my first year and am so glad every year to sketch out where I want to go. It makes my weekly planning go much faster, but also keeps me focused on where we’re going.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

2015-2016 Teacher Planning Calendar | TN

I’ve always just used one of those giant desk calendars or cut up the free ones from the bank and inserted it into my binder, but this year I took a bit of time to make my own. While it took a bit of time to set up, I LOVE the results and am excited about using it! And can I just say, I love using handwriting fonts because they are {{way}} cooler than my real handwriting.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

view my personal template


I’ve always kept my standards on hand to help with planning purposes and this year is no different. My standards lists are slightly longer however with the Common Core being in place at our grade level. No matter – in the binder they go!

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Quarterly Plans

Following after my group plans, I am keeping my math schedule which lays out the nine weeks of a quarter where I plan on taking each group. These are basic sketches for each of my math zones for each of the nine weeks, because the groups will determine the pace, but its a guide for me and for planning purposes.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}
Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

And if I change things out for a quarter, I try to keep a list as a reference to make it easier on myself for next year.

Sight Word Songs

And I like to keep my sight word songs handy that way if I was to blank out on a tune {Okay, so I wrote these songs – I should remember them. But I am sooooo not a morning person.} I could find it super fast. I also have a tab for my literacy center introduction schedule and our developmental writing scales, but those are little sections and not so worthy of blog space.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Sight Word Songs | TpT

Meeting Notes

I like to take notes during a meeting that are meaningful to me. We get agendas, but that includes information for everyone, so I simple jot down what I need to know and remember. Plus, if I have my binder in a meeting I can be productive {wink} and always have my master calendar and schedule to write down changes in.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Staff Meeting Notes Paper | TpT


My binder sits near my computer and phone so I like to have details about my kinders and their families one flip away to save time. I keep a one page sheet as my cheat sheet at the back since I use this the least.

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Kindergarten Student Info Sheet

And the last tidbit I have to share? I take out my previous years set of lesson plans and bind them to keep close by if needed for planning. I’ve found it a great help for remembering some of those little things that are otherwise so easy to forget.

Read what other teachers recommend too!

Binder Basics {How to Make a Teacher Planning Binder}

Update: Planning Template (TpT) Available

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If you like this post, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly just like this one. What tips do you have for teacher organization?

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  • Anita Sebastian

    Leslie, do you have a copy of your sight word songs? Such a great idea! I use poems, but I like the songs to change it up.

  • Kathy

    Hi Leslie,
    I LOVE your shop on TeacherNotebooks, and have purchased many of your items. I truly adore your Kndg. Parent Handbook. I have downloaded it and printed out one to read up close and found one typo. Is it possible to have you fix it and send me a new copy? By #1 on the first tip it says “with words an writing” I think it should be “with words and writing”. If I can get it with the word and that would be so GREAT!! I don’t know when you have time to teach, you make the BEST stuff to help out us fellow KNDG. teachers!! Thanks

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Kathy,
      I’m updating the typo as I type and will have it uploaded to TN in just a bit. You can re-download the newest version from your dashboard.
      Thanks for catching that.
      – Leslie

  • Lisa

    Wow. Thank you for all of this information. I went back to school and graduated with honors in 2010, still no job. I feel confident with this Thursdays interview for kinder. Time will tell …i feel like im nesting…lol

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Glad to hear it will help you build your confidence going into an interview Lisa! Best of luck!
      – Leslie

  • Beth Deimling Wroten

    Thanks so much for all the great ideas. I am always looking for new ways to organize and you have helped me tremendously!!!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Glad to hear it Beth! Thanks for sharing.
      – Leslie

  • Sara

    I just walked into a classroom in the middle of the year and I am absolutely overwhelmed. I am so happy I found your site because it is going to be extremely helpful! Thank you!!! :)

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Thanks Sara – great to hear! Your situation is definitely more unique so I wish the best to you.
      – Leslie

  • beyouteaful

    I am a student teacher and I have found this to be an amazing resource. (Along with the rest of your site!) Thank you so very much!! :)

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Great to hear that these tips are helping you get a great start. Best wishes during your students teaching experience!
      – Leslie

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  • Staci

    Love all of your ideas! I really like how you have your Common Core organized, do you have quarters 2-4? I think this will be very helpful next year!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Thanks Staci – I do. It’s included in the sample of our assessments bundle that is available in my teachers notebook shop! Best wishes for next year!
      – Leslie

  • Mattie


    How do you print the calender to make it sit correctly in the binder? Double sided? My brain is in summer mode and I cannot figure it out! Thanks!!

    I love the calender!!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Mattie,
      Definitely print it double sided! You’ll love how it lays flat in the binder that way and can quickly flip to the month you want.
      – Leslie

  • Autumn

    I have been researching life planners,but never thought to apply the same principals to my classroom!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      There you go! Hope it strikes a cord with you April.
      – Leslie

  • AngelB

    This is so incredibly helpful! I’m starting my first year of teaching kindergarten this Fall. I’m a bit overwhelmed, but working on preparation. I used a binder much like this in my college years and it was fantastic. Thanks for laying out the specifics for K.

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      You’re welcome – and welcome to kindergarten!
      – Leslie

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  • Rachel Perez

    This is wonderful! I am curious, you said you print double sided, but what is on the backside? I see how it lays flat, but are the backs blank? We only plan week to week, so I am trying to see how this would work!
    Thank you!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Rachel, the next week is on the back side. I usually print out about 8-10 weeks worth at a time.
      – Leslie

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  • Afiya

    hey.. loved this.. but could you please tell me that what Apps did u use to make these ?? :)

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      I used a program called Corel Draw to make my items – but you can purchase a similar version I made to edit in Word or Powerpoint! See the post to get the links to purchase.
      – Leslie

  • Alisha

    Do you have a editable quarterly standard sheet. I need this for my binder?

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Alisha,
      No not editable.
      – Leslie

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  • rebecca

    Hi. I would just like to say thanks. I am still in high school but it is coming up to my time to do work experience. i currently love working with young children and have chosen my final subjects around being a nursery teacher. As i chose childcare we were to go buy a teacher planner but when i found this i fell in love. It was alot cheaper than eveyone elses and i can print pages when needed!! I LOVE IT…..thankyou so much -xx

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Wonderful Rebecca, so glad you love it and it can be helpful to you! All the best as you enter your career choice.
      – Leslie

  • kathy

    Enjoy your ideas and use lots of them. Need some advice on using a binder. What size binder do you use? 2 or 3 inch? By the time I put all of the information I want into the binder, it is huge! I would like to carry it home to work on, but, it is inconvenient to tote it around. I have these sections: lesson plans, gradebk, planning calendar, standards, family information, meeting notes, and school info ( schedules, teams, ) and student information. Have thought perhaps I would keep lesson plans and gradebk in a separate (smaller) binder. I would like to make it more manageable. Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated. Have taught kinder for about 20 years. Thanks for all you do!

    • Leslie @KindergartenWorks

      Hi Kathy, I’d go for 2 or 2.5 because it keeps it a good size for taking to meetings and carting to/from home. Are you able to take something like your student information and family information sheets and copy them double sided or run them through 2 per side. That way you have the info you need at a readable size, but it won’t be so much bulk? I figure you could cut out 1/2-3/4 of the pages if you did that. I also recommend taking out lesson plans every 8-10 weeks and storing them in a folder for binding at the end of the year. Most likely you’ll only need to look back a few weeks anyways! And definitely take your school info section and run those double sided too or shrink them down. If you have the capability to scan things, I like to keep meeting notes, school info and my student/family info in a digital format now. I can use our copy machine to scan and email myself a pdf. I then save it in my dropbox which I can access whether at home or work. Hope that can help!
      – Leslie

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