Are you tired of worksheets? I know I certainly get to that point! And don’t get me wrong, they do serve a purpose. But teachers and students alike can burn out from them. Monotony. Boring. Unengaging. Repetitive. Did I mention boring?
Keep reading to see my 15 tips AND sign up to get a printable with seven BONUS tips!
Learning doesn’t need to be boring! Often all we need to do as educators is offer options other than a worksheet, even sometimes. Yes, that completed worksheet may be a great way to see what students know. But does it have to be the only way? Or can you also use hands-on activities, puzzles, and other engaging ways to help students learn?
Personally, my answer is yes. I knot there are going to be parts of the day where a worksheet quickly shows me what a student knows. But that doesn’t always need to be the case. I personally do NOT believe my students need to complete ten or more worksheets a day for me to be considered “effective”.
If you’re tired of running on the worksheet hamster wheel like I was, read on for some other ideas.
- Use a whiteboard. Rather than a worksheet that you need to walk around and grade immediately (or potentially sit down at the end of the day or take home), ask students to show their work quickly on a whiteboard. This is especially good when you only need to assess five or so answers that don’t take long. You can make a few notes, know exactly who needs more help, and move on.
- Draw it out. Depending on the activity, drawing out an idea can be super beneficial. Students often view things in different ways – particularly from an adult brain. Let them draw out the new concept and share – whether to partners, small groups, or the whole class. You may find students help one another solidify the idea even better than you could have simply because we all think and process differently.
- Talk it out. While some kids are going to love the drawing aspect, others may prefer to talk about what they know. Sometimes a two minute conference will tell you more about what a student knows than any worksheet ever could. If the technology is available to you, students could even be taught to record short responses via an audio or video recording app. The teacher could later check these or possibly even choose to share the best ones with the class later.
- Sing it. Some kids want to talk, but others will want to sing. Why not? I did an entire report in grad school by revamping every day childhood songs into something appropriate for my Educational Psychology 700 final. I’ll never forget the professor singing them out loud to the class! And I heard some people humming them during the final. LOL
- Use manipulatives. Especially in math class, manipulatives can be so helpful. They can help students actually see what they are learning. Plus their brain will be engaged in different ways, which helps solidify the answers even more. (Ten frames, anyone?)
- Go deeper. Rather than give a worksheet where the student repeatedly answers the same type of question several times, dig in and ask for higher level thinking. Many times those lower-level questions need to be answered to fully articulate a well-written (or spoken) higher-level answer. So don’t be afraid to use the how or why questions sooner than later.
- Use puzzles. Not every learning concept can be taught via a puzzle, but you’d be surprised how many can! With anywhere from four questions for the youngest learners to twenty for the most challenging options, HoJo’s puzzles are a great way to make learning engaging and fun in a hands-on way!
- Show a video. Often short video clips engage our students. With today’s cartoons being so animated and fast-paced, little videos throughout the day can help students get information in a new format that many will retain. The number of times I have heard my own kids singing a song they learned in school never ceases to amaze me!
- Create a game. With the many options available today – Kahoot, Quizizz, or Quizlet – games are often a great way to check students’ knowledge instead of a worksheet. Older students can often even create the games themselves!
- Play a physical game. With the variety of options available via a simple online search, anymore you can often quickly find a game to review nearly any concept. And once you find one you like, you can often switch up the questions and play it repeatedly throughout the year. (Bonus points if you have the students help make the questions!)
- Create an ad. Whether students choose to make a radio ad, TV commercial, or something that could be put up in a mall – there are many great ways for them to showcase what they learned via some type of advertisement.
- Create an ebook or brochure. If you have time for more than an ad, opt to have students create a larger piece of work. This way they can use images and compelling text to get their points across.
- Research. Older students are often more tech savvy than we realize, so turning them loose (on appropriate websites with correct filters) to do a deeper dive on a subject can prove even more beneficial than any worksheet ever could.
- Annotate a PDF or webpage. Sometimes a worksheet needs to be done, but going digital may be a better option. Use an app like Notability or Diigo to let students do a deeper dive into the text. But don’t do this just to use technology. Have a meaningful purpose behind this choice, otherwise you’re just doing another boring worksheet in a different way.
- Let students choose. While this may not always be an option, many time even younger students will be quite creative in how they choose to share their knowledge. Or you can give 3-5 options – like writing a paper, creating a song, making an art project – and then also give them the option to choose something on their own with your approval.
Hopefully these 15 ideas will help you get out of your worksheet rut and keep learning engaging once again. Remember – even just making one swap a day can keep learning exciting for the students – and even you as the teacher! Tired of worksheets – no more!
Want a handy reminder of these 15 worksheet alternatives AND seven more BONUS TIPS? Click here to download the full 22 ideas AND get an added bonus of addition puzzles so you can try a non-worksheet activity in your classroom right away! There are addition options for preK-5th grade to fit any elementary homeschool or classroom. Grab yours today!
Still wanting more? I know there are times where you HAVE to do a worksheet. Click through to see my ten ideas for increasing the fun and student excitement, even when it’s just a boring ol’ worksheet!