Organizing Sentence Puzzles

Earlier, I blogged about my routines for Sentence Puzzles in my first grade classroom.

This week, let’s talk about my favorite thing: organization.  How do we organize all those puzzles? What’s the best way to prep the puzzles so that we can keep track of them (and the kids can too!)?

How Can I Easily Prep My Sentence Puzzles?

Obviously, the first thing I need to do is print the sentence puzzle masters.  I keep the masters organized so I can go back and copy again if we lose any (hello, it’s gonna happen!).  I also printed out the cover pages to help organize the master copies in a sentence puzzle binder.  I just keep the answer keys in the front pocket so I can get to it easily.

I printed the resource cover and the spine label to use as my notebook binder cover.

After I got my master copies organized in a binder, I copied the puzzle masters on colored cardstock.  I have the suggested color I use in the top right of each master.  I just simply sorted all of the reds together, oranges together, etc…and then copied each color together.

Once they are copied, then I cut apart each puzzle (what a great job for a parent volunteer!) and put each puzzle in its own snack size ziploc bag.

Why Do I Need To Color Code Sentence Puzzles?

Because, when I first started sentence puzzles years ago, I did all of the puzzles for one level on the same color of cardstock.  You know, so I could say, “Johnny, you and your partner will work on a blue puzzle today.”  Make sense, right?

Nope.  Fail.  Major fail.  Because, guess what happened when Johnny and his partner got into the tub of blue sentence puzzles to put them together?  Yep.  They got mixed up.  Big time.  And then it took FOREVER times 300 to get them sorted back correctly.

So these puzzles are set up with the level on each word card so students can easily find their level in their labeled tubs.  But because each puzzle for a level is a different color, kids can easily see if a puzzle piece is in the wrong bag.

How Do I Keep the Puzzles Organized?

Once I’m done copying, laminating, cutting and bagging the puzzles, then I’m ready to go.  And seriously, if you have a good parent volunteer, all of this can be done by the volunteer in about 2-3 hours! #doit #parentvolunteersforthewin

I have two different ways I organize my sentences depending on how I am going to use them.  As we talked about in my routines post, if I’m using them for a carousel group activity or for reading groups, then I keep them all in one shoe box tub.  I use index card dividers in the tub to separate each level of puzzles and then put the puzzle bags behind each level divider.

Then, I’m ready to just pull a puzzle for small groups or pull a few for our carousel activity!

If I’m going to use them for literacy stations and centers, then I get tubs for each level I will need.  (I don’t put out every level, only the ones my kids need.)  Then, I just toss the puzzle bags into the appropriate tub!

Find the whole set of sentence puzzles here!