Foldables are 3-D paper constructions that allow learners to record and process new words and concepts in a hands-on and kinesthetic way. There are multiple forms of foldables that can be used as part of social studies instruction.

One simple foldable is called a Five Tab, a mini-booklet that provides a way to organize five different sub-topics. Let’s give it a try!

  • Start with three pieces of paper. These could be basic white, colored or heavy stock paper. (Using three different colors works best as long as the colors are not too dark.)
  • Take the first piece of paper and fold it not quite in half long-wise. (Elementary teachers will know this as a “hotdog” fold.)
  • Make the back part of the fold about an inch longer than the front part so that the back part sticks out a bit. Kids will be labeling this “tab.”
  • Take the next piece of paper and do the same thing. The difference is that you fold this piece with about two inches sticking out for the tab.
  • Take the last piece of paper and fold again. This time leave about three inches from the bottom for the last tab.
  • You put them all together by sticking the first page into the second and both of those into the third. You now have six flaps that can be used to hold information.
  • Staple or glue the edge to hold all the pages together and label the top flap with your title. An example might be “Turning Points of the American Civil War.”
  • Students could then label each of the remaining five flaps with different turning points such as Antietam, Gettysburg, Emancipation Proclamation, Vicksburg and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
  • For each flap, kids now have two sections (upper and lower) to include definitions, maps, quotes, short bios – just about anything that you want.
  • You can add/subtract pages or fold along the short side instead of the “hotdog” fold.

five tab

Kids can add content to the foldable throughout the unit and use it as a review tool.

A couple of suggestions:

  • Use bright paper available at office supply stores such as Office Depot or Staples.
  • Glue sticks make for less mess and less wrinkles.  Wet glue makes for longer lasting strength.  Choose what works best for you and your students.
  • Make an example yourself and model for your kids how to make the foldable.

A few handy sites (tons more can be found by doing a simple Google search):


Have fun!