How to Make a Pocket Chart

Laminated cards can feature letters, numbers, shapes and more.
... Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Pocket charts are very useful teaching tools for elementary teachers. They can be used for everything from teaching new vocabulary to leading activities on following instructions. While many pocket charts are available for sale, the cost can add up over time. By making your own pocket charts, you can save a lot of money and customize the look and content of the pocket chart to suit your classroom decor and your lesson plan.

1 Determine the Lesson

Each pocket chart has its own theme and lesson. What you want to teach will determine the look and functionality of the chart. For example, if you want to teach students about following directions, you might create a chart that includes a picture of an item they are going to create and sentence strips with each step of the directions. Sentences might include things like, "Cut a rectangle out of blue paper" or "Glue the circle to the triangle." If you want to teach students counting and matching, you might create a chart that has a different number of animals in each row. In the next column, students would place the number that matches how many animals are in that row. Many different ways exist to teach the same concepts, but you must know your lesson before you can begin.

2 Choose the Backing

Simple pocket charts with only a few words or pictures can be created from pieces of scrapbook paper or manilla folders. Larger pocket charts can be made from pieces of poster board, foam board, felt or another fabric. Knowing your lesson and how the chart will be used will make a difference in the choice of backing. For example, if you want students to use the pocket charts at their desks, manilla folders are a good choice for backing since they will fit on the desktop and can be stood up for easy visibility. if you want the whole class to participate in the lesson, you need a large backing that can be hung on your board or the wall.

3 Create the Rows

Pocket charts get their name from the clear pockets that hold the information cards. You can create these pockets from either transparency sheets or from clear vinyl. Cut the material in two-inch strips the length of the chart. Use hot glue or craft tape to mount the strips in rows. If you are using clear vinyl, you can sew it in place for a stronger bond. Transparency sheets will be too stiff to sew. Leave the top side of the clear strips open. This will create the pocket in which students will insert the cards.

4 Print and Laminate Cards

Once the basic pocket chart is created, you have to fill it with your educational material. For example, for a pocket chart on the alphabet, you can print out square cards with each letter of the alphabet in upper case on one and lower case on another. Students would then match the upper and lower case forms on the chart. Choose a sturdy card stock for printing, and print in bright colors to make the chart more interesting. Cut the cards and laminate them to help them last longer. Laminating the cards will also make them easier to slip into the pockets.

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.