Smile File Update: Booklet

We ended this year with a mere thirty minutes between saying our goodbyes to our kids and having to leave the building because of the moving and demo work that will all eventually end with us getting a new building in August to start the school year.

It was an insane way to end the school year, but as I have said before, this year's group was truly a gift to me in so many ways, and they handled it all with humor, grace, and a lightness that modeled to me the best way to make do with what we had.

I wanted to continue of all of my end-of-year traditions, despite the chaos, so I had to make adjustments here and there since supplies were low, or in boxes, and a lot of our usual routines had been interrupted.

Smile File is a years-old tradition I didn't want to let go of, but my old method of small slips of paper and stapled folders couldn't quite make the cut with the space and what we had available. I adjusted the file a bit and wanted to share it with you, in case you prefer this method, too!

If you haven't read about Smile File, click HERE. It's a wonderful way for kids to collect messages from everyone- just a sentence or two- about their favorite memories together, a compliment, a wish for the summer, you name it. We spend quite a bit of time moving about the classroom so everyone gets the chance to write something for everyone else. I write some sentence starters and ideas on the front board before we begin, but kids tend to hit a groove about halfway through and their messages to each other always tug at my heartstrings.

The update I made this year is to create a cover for a booklet, not a folder as I've done. Inside, there are five pages (I did multi-color since there was still some left), then it's folded and stapled. It was much easier to keep track of and kids were all still able to write messages to one another.

A fun timer I found was a Tibetan singing bowl HERE that gongs gently every two minutes (there are other versions for one minute HERE and five minutes HERE). I kept it quiet in the room and when we heard the gong, they moved to the next chair to write in that student's Smile File. We took breaks about every five gongs and then went back to work.

To pick up this freebie for this year (and next!), click HERE.

I hope this update gives you even more ideas for using Smile File in your classroom. Happy end-of-year to you all!


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  2. My kids love this and read through them for days afterwards. Giving them sentence starters was a great idea to help some who have a hard time getting started. They wanted all the adults to sign them, but that was not feasible!

  3. I am returning to elementary school after 12 years of teaching middle and high school. I cannot wait to use the smile file with my students. I am so excited.