Foldables – The Four Window

This is a teaching tool I absolutely love and one of the nice things about it, it’s non-tech.  Although technology is lovely, kids sometimes like to step away from it every now and then.  As one of my kids once said to me….”Sometimes I just want to draw!”

Foldables are a great tool for teaching kids to organize their thoughts.  I’ll show you a basic foldable in this post that I call the “Four Window” foldable.

The requirements are an 11×17 piece of paper.  Fold it in half the “hamburger way” – as my kids say…..

The open it back up so it lays flat again.  You will see your fold line down the center.  Take one flap and fold it back towards the middle line you just created.

Now repeat with the other side.

Take the entire thing and fold it in half again.

Then open it back up – you should have created another fold line that runs across the middle.

Now cut along those fold lines on each side to create four flaps or “windows”.  DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE ENTIRE SHEET OF PAPER.

When you open it up, it should look like this…..

I’ve had kids use these for a variety of reasons:


On the outside flap find a problem that represents an easy, medium, hard, and challenging question.  On the inside flap solve it mathematically.  Underneath it, describe how you solved the problem or why you took the steps you took.

Or…..this could be used to display the steps in solving a word problem.  They could represent four stages or four elements.  Perhaps four different attempts to solve the same problem?

I’ve also seen this used VERY effectively to teach the 4 co-ordinate plane.  Photocopy a graph into the middle and then each flap represents a quadrant.  Have students investigate to figure out what the rules are for each quadrant and then they write the rules on the front flaps!


Breaking down vocabulary terms is helpful here.  And you can create as many windows as you need.  I usually have the kids draw a picture of the term on the outside flap, have their won definition of the term on the inside flap and then use the other part for examples of why they need to know that term or examples of when it will be used.  It could also be used for breaking down procedural steps in an experiment.


The possibilities here are endless.  Planning stories (characters, plot, setting, climax) or (intro, rising action, climax, conclusion), creating characters in depth and details, analyzing a newspaper article and breaking it up into Who, What, Where, When, Why, How.  You could use it to find four samples of poetry that fit a certain theme, break down cartoon strips and analyzing them frame by frame.

Social Studies

Here’s where I actually have some pictures to go with my example!  I use foldables a great deal when I need kids to break down major concepts into manageable chunks.  One of our topic questions for the Grade 8 year is “To what extent should someone force their worldview upon another culture?”  What a loaded question!

To break down a culture’s worldview I usually break it up into four main sections:  Geography, Society, Religion, Values.  In looking at the Aztecs there are two cultures to examine, the Spanish and the Aztecs.  So we do a  mini-case study and then my students produce these as we go along.  One section at a time….

So each window has it’s own category and student’s draw a picture on the outside flap to represent that aspect of Spanish/Aztec worldview.  The picture doesn’t need to be a stellar piece of artwork, but it does need to communicate the heart of what the culture values and believes in.

So what’s on the inside?

All their notes.  We study each section individually and then THEY choose what’s important and write that into their foldable.  It’s a way to capture and summarize the worldview of that section.  And I can tell you this much, by the time the kids ar done with this activity they pretty much know their information inside and out (get it?  There’s an inside and a outside of the foldable…..?  Ok, the kids groaned too.)

In Summary….

Foldable are a great non-tech tool for having kids organize just about anything you want them to categorize.  It’s a pretty effective tool and I use it across different curriculum strands.  Another option for your teacher backpack!

There are other types of foldables and as I have more time I’ll add additional ones to my blog.  But this is a great simple one to get started with and it’s the style I use the most often.



About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
This entry was posted in English, Foldables, Math Reasoning, Non-tech, Science, Social Studies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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