I'm not sure why it has taken me this long to discover file folder games. After all, I've had pre-school aged children for almost 11 years now, but the fact remains that up until about 3 months ago I didn't know these things existed. This is definitely a why-did-I-not-think-of-this moment...but I'm pretty sure the reason I didn't think of it is because I've been in the trenches of motherhood, keeping my head down so the shrapnel doesn't take an eye out. I kind of feel bad for my older kids that they didn't get the benefit, during their pre-school years, of all the really nifty stuff I know about now.
http://www.filefolderfun.com/ (this site lists file folder games by subject and grade level)
www.preschoolprintables.com/filefolder (this site focuses on preschool level activities)
I was looking for number recognition games for the preschool set, so I decided to use this watermelon game and this flower petal game, but really, you could use any shape at all. You could use die cuts or just find an image you like on the Internet to use.
All you do is print out the images, and glue one set to the inside of a file folder. For extra durability, you can laminate the folder, or, if you don't have access to a laminator, just cover the file folder with clear contact paper. Then laminate (or cover with clear contact paper) the game pieces and cut them out.
You can add velcro to the game board and pieces to make them stick, if you like. I would suggest using self-adhesive velcro, but I had the sew-on kind, so I hot glued it on, with mixed results. I suppose you could also use small magnets--glue or tape a paperclip to the back of your game pieces, and stick a small piece of self-adhesive magnetic tape on the game board.
I used packaging tape to attach an invitation envelope to the outside of the file folder to hold the game pieces when the game is not in use.
For our watermelon and flower games, the kids count the number of seeds (or dots), and match that to the number. I've been folding the watermelon file folder so that just the numbers 1-5 show and Bubby has been having a terrific time finding the correctly numbered melon to match the number of seeds in the melons on the game board. Bubby has also discovered that if he places two of the melon pieces with their flat sides together, the pieces form a circle. We've involved Logo in the fun by asking him to add the two numbers together.
I'm sure that you can see that the possibilities for file folder games are endless. I'm thinking I may make a pie or a pizza shape next to help teach the concept of fractions, and I'm still mulling the idea of an alphabet matching game. And as I was working, I thought, gosh, this would be a good way to make paper dolls!
And, as with just about anything, if you're feeling lazy (or overwhelmed) and don't want to make your own games, you can buy kits!