I made a class set of student privacy folders during the summer after my first year of teaching. They were only made out of laminated poster board, but held up surprisingly well for nearly two decades! It was finally time for those old privacy folders to retire, so I decided to make some new ones that should hopefully last until I am ready to retire. 🙂
Have you checked out the price of store-bought privacy folders? They cost about $80 (plus shipping) for a set of 24 folders. Ouch! I made mine for less than half of the price, and they are much more unique and colorful. If you want to make yourself a set, head on over to the dollar store and pick yourself up some of these project display boards.
Each board will make two privacy folders. I bought 14 display boards to make 28 folders. Here is a picture of the final product. Notice that I shortened the length of the center part of the display board so it will fit better on a desk. The following pictures will show you how I cut and assembled the privacy folders.
First, cut each display board in half. The half-way mark on my display board was a little shy of 14 inches. I used a T-square ruler and a razor blade to make a nice, straight line. Once I cut the first display board, I just used that one as a template to measure all of the others.
Next, open up one of the privacy folders and measure 15 inches across the center part. Cut on that line as pictured.
You will remove part of the center section and then reattach the side with duct tape.
Cut at the crease so you can remove that section.
Get rid of that center piece. Or (in my case), give those pieces of cardboard to your kids so they can be creative. My daughter made three bird houses with those scrap pieces.
Then, use duct tape to attach the right side to the privacy folder. Balance it out by adding a strip of tape to the left side. I bought five rolls of patterned duct tape at the dollar store and also used some left over tape I already had at home from another project.
Now for the fun part! Spray paint the back (brown) side of each privacy folder. I used five cans of spray paint, plus a few half-empty cans I had in my basement. My husband just loves the new colorful look of his saw horses. 😉
Let your privacy folders sit overnight so they are nice and dry. Then place a strip of duct tape on each of the two outer creases.
I worked on my privacy folders over a period of three days. It was a lot of work, but I am really happy with the results. Now I can tuck them away until September, as I enjoy the next two months of summer.
Thanks for stopping by!
Chrissie, your privacy folders are wonderful! They sure beat the colored folders that I staple together. Guess I'd better get busy!Sincerely,Rose
Adorable! What a great idea!
Loving these! Now to find the time to make them.KimQuinnessential Lessons
They look great (and they do look like they'll last a long time)!
Thanks for the excellent picture directions. That helps a lot. I better get busy.
Wow! Never again will I remake them each year with stapled folders. Thanks for the great idea!
Wow! What an amazing idea. That is probably what the privacy folder people do and charge us a mint. Thank you for a great idea and keeping some money in our pockets!
Hi Chrissie, I am soooo glad that I found this! I was about to staple some foldrs together, but I saw this in the nick of time. Now off to the dollar store.
Ikr! Me toooo! LOL
I used cereal boxes from our cafeteria. Free!!! How do you keep your students from poking holes in the cardboard?
I wrote a message inside of mine: "Mrs. G. Is watching you!" The 3rd graders haven't tried to mess with them in 16 years:0)
Yours look great! When I made mine, I left the cardboard the way I found it. Then I glued helpful testing techniques on the inside. Thanks for sharing your cute ideas.BetiBetikempa1.blogspot.com
Great idea! Here's a tip I may try… ask upper elementary kids to donate their used science boards after science fair.
Fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing.
I made these up for my class this weekend. I didn't spray paint them but there wasn't printing to be covered so that saved a step. I think my students will really enjoy using these. Thank you!!
I have used these, but without the cutting and painting. One thing I found helpful was to personalize each one. That helped keep them free of markings, etc.
I have purchased them at Lakeshore during the summer when they are the doorbuster. They were not that expensive. However, these look very cute and unique. I love the idea. My only issue is usually they end up with holes, writing, etc. I don't think I would want to put in all of this time and then have them ruined by overactive students. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.
Thinking of using these for my kinders and putting sight words and letters to help them with their writing.
How did you prevent the cardboard from warping?
Hi! I didn't have any trouble with warping. They are nice and flat, even now after two years of use. 🙂
What a neat idea! I am going to start on this for my class next year this weekend.
Super idea!! Thanks for sharing!!
This is absolutely ingenious! Thank you so much!
I'm trying this project right now and the spray paint is coming off on my fingers of I touch them at all after drying for three days. Did you have this problem? I used Krylon Silver Metallic paint so I'm thinking I need to try a color that is not metallic.
Oh, bummer! No, that didn't happen to me. I wonder if it might have to do with temperature or humidity. I know that humidity will sometimes do that. Maybe read the can for spraying conditions (?) Best wishes. I hope it works out for you!
If you are using metallic paint, you need to seal it with a coat of clear to stop the "sparkles". Alternatively, you could just cover it with a different color which is non-metallic.
If you assign numbers to your students, simply put a large number on each privacy folder. If you have multiple classes, you can use the same numbers over and over again. When students need their privacy folder, they get their assigned number folder. If there are "markings" on the folders, you have a better idea of who is responsible for being disrespectful. I have done this for about 5 years with little to no markings. Hope this helps!
Great idea! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
What kind of paint did you use and how many coats did you apply? How many privacy folders did you end up making altogether?
Hi! I used a variety of left over spray paint cans that I had in my basement, plus some fresh, new cans of Rustoleum American Accents. They all worked the same. It took two coats of paint to cover them. I made 28 privacy folders.
Wow! These are awesome! I will be using them for my 6th Grade class this year!
I has trouble getting my spray paint to cover. I went through a can of black spray paint per folder. So I bought a gallon of paint at Walmart and my husband used his sprayer to paint both sides. (Bless him!) We hardly made a dent in that gallon. I didn't cut them because they will fit just fine on my desks. I did tape the edges and "hinges" for a cute look. I used neon to match my neon and black classroom. Love the Idea! Thanks!
I have seen the boards in color, so I will not have to spraypait. I will add an accent color with decorative duck tape. Just saved me $30 bucks from local teacher supply store. Thank you!
Colored boards would be great! That would save a lot of time for sure! 🙂
Maybe try using contact paper or using spray adhesive to attach fabric. On the inside of the privacy folders I’ve made I put encouraging phrases and test taking tips.
Did you lay them flat or fold them to store them ?
Mine are folded when I store them. Just make sure they are completely dry if you spray paint them, or they will stick.
Can you spray paint the front of the folders as well as the back? I bought mine last year and the kids wrote on the white side. I was thinking about painting the white side but wasn't sure if that was possible.
Sure! You can spray paint both sides, but it will use a lot of paint and be time consuming. 🙂
Did you laminate them after they were complete?
No, I didn’t laminate them. The cardboard is too thick to fit through my laminator. 🙂
I’m leery about spray painting the cardboard. Can you tell me the exact spray paint you used?
Hi Kara, I mostly used Rust-oleum spray paint…the kind that says “2X the coverage” on the can. They sell a wide variety of colors at Walmart. I did also use a few other random brands that I had in my basement. They all worked fine on cardboard.:-)
I teach 11th grade, so privacy folders are kind of moot, but I like to use the project boards at dollar store for groupwork white boards. I do the ssme thing and cover in cohtact paper and they hold up for about a semester. I never thought to cut them in half though, so I may try that…get a whole year’s worth of boards out of 6 or so.
I started making these boards today! It looks like you put the tape on after spray painting….is it okay to spray paint after I taped the pieces together? Also, how did you get the tape to be so straight! You have a steady hand…for sure.
Hi Anna! I put the tape on the inside before spray painting. That is the plain white side, which I didn’t paint. The tape on the outside is just for decoration, and I did add that after the paint dried. Adding the tape first is totally fine. It will just get covered by the paint. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to straight lines. Haha.
Where did you get the duck tape for your boards? I can’t find any that’s this cute?
I got most of it at AC Moore, a craft store. Some of it also came from Dollar Tree, but I haven’t seen any there lately.
Wow!! i had so much fun making these. I have a student in my classroom from last year and she was amazed at our new privacy boards!! Thanks so much for sharing. I teach 1st grade, these are amazing. I put numbers on them this way if someone even thinks about touching these with any type of pens, markers ect… I will know who did it. I highly advised them not to write on our boards! 🙂 So far so good!
Awesome! I hope they hold up for many years to come! I bet they are beautiful! 🙂
I made mine a few years ago and we are still using them! I have a question though. They still tend to “turn in” and get in the way of their papers. Any suggestions? And I wish I would have wrote numbers on them and assigned them. They sure do love to put holes in them with their pencils!
Hi Stefanie, That’s great! Yeah, I always have to keep an eye on those pencil pokers. Haha. I bent the sides back far in the reverse direction at one point, and that seemed to help. Mine stand nice and straight and are still going strong. 🙂
I made these today! I didn’t have to cut them to make them narrower so that saved time. It took me about 4 hours to do all 30 of them. I’m definitely going to number them in hopes of deterring students from writing/poking holes on them. Thanks for this idea!!