Binders Should Be Beautiful

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be BeautifulRemember that old commercial that ended with "...and I'm worth it"?  It was for hair color, if I remember correctly.  Well, sometimes teachers need to remember that line.  We do everything with our students in mind.  We plan, learn, teach, reteach, test, grade, counsel, and guide.  We give up our lunch hours for intervention, stay late for tutoring, and spend hours learning to use technology.  I could go on and on.

But how often do we do something for ourselves?  Just because it makes us smile?  I've decided to do that now.  My eyes have been opened to how truly ugly my binders are.  I have measured the binders I have (See my last post.)  I have thrown out the ones that are broken and majorly icky.  Now it's time to begin the beautification process.  Yay!

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be Beautiful
Remember this picture?  This is only a sample of what I am working on!  I am a woman on a mission.

  I have resigned myself to the fact that binders are no uniform sizes, and I cannot afford to buy all new ones (have you seen how much they cost?!?)

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be BeautifulThese are the spine width sizes I need to make them work:
  • half inch
  • one inch
  • one-and-a-half inch
  • one-and-three-quarter inch
  • two inch and larger, depending on how you cut them
Now the fun part begins!  I love patterns and bright colors, and most of all... polka dots.  So I started experimenting with digital papers.  I talked to the K-3 teachers at my school, and asked if they would let me make them some covers.  
Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be Beautiful

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be Beautiful
Here are some examples of the front covers.  I scoured the internet (especially Teachers Pay Teachers) for cute background papers and clip art, to give my teaching friends some stuff to choose from.  Since we are using Engage New York Curriculum for math, we focused on binders for all of the reams and reams of paper we have been printing!  Now, these make me smile =)

Then we put one in a two-inch binder cover.  And this is what we saw:
Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be Beautiful
The page didn't even come close to filling up the front cover!!

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be BeautifulSo I made a few adjustments to my file, and now we had strips of the same paper to fill up the binder cover.  It doesn't always match perfectly, but it blends, and it takes away the white borders.  You can cover the white lines that are on the edge of the cover page (as in the picture above), or you can let them show (as in the blue binder picture to the left).

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be Beautiful

Here's the secret... you print only one spine on a page, leaving the rest to be used for the borders!  (The only negative I see is the use of extra ink, but in our case we felt it was worth it.)

Light Bulbs and Laughter - Binders Should Be Beautiful

And there you have it.  Beautiful binders that are filled to the edges, and five sizes of spines to choose from.   Next time I'll tell you how to get a set for free.  Because sometimes teachers need a reason to smile.


  1. I love the look of your binders! I downloaded one, but the paper orientation is wrong and prints in the middle of the page horizontal. Any thoughts on how to fix this?

    1. I'm not sure why this would happen! The only thing that I can think of is that the printer might be set on landscape instead of portrait. Sometimes it has to be changed before you print.

      Hope that helps,

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