5 Ways to Use a Worksheet So It’s Not Just a Worksheet


Find creative uses for worksheets in the kindergarten classroom – that don’t stick to paper-and-pencil only practice.

Here is why I don’t love worksheets in kindergarten (or any grade level for that matter) and five ways that you can still use your favorite worksheets in ways that are more age-appropriate.

Why I loathe worksheets

You’ve heard me say more than once that I loathe worksheets.


Well, because I think they literally do like nothing for our kids.

And while I’ve never been a fan of them, one summer day was turning point for me.

I remember the year that I opened our new Saxon math curriculum and my heart just sank.

I opened boxes, plural – boxes, of classroom sets of worksheets.

In that moment I knew I wasn’t even going to use half of them… and then a new thought came into my mind. 

What if I just didn’t use any of them and I stashed them away for a year… what would happen?

And I decided in that very moment it was worth testing out.

Guess what?

No classroom police showed up, no parents complained about seeing not worksheets coming home every night, no administrators came knocking wondering where they were at.

Here’s what actually happened:

We learned math anyways.

We drew in math journals twice a week, did math binders daily and played lots of games.

We learned in small groups and I knew everyone’s math strengths and weaknesses.

Things changed drastically for me and you’ve probably heard me say I’d never go back to another way of teaching math.

Well, the same principle goes for me with using worksheets. When my heart sank I realized the worksheets, the fluff, wasn’t going to cut it and I had to do something about it or I’d relive that sinking feeling every day pulling out the next set of worksheets.

I’m not saying that we can never use them, but I believe we should choose super carefully which ones we use and use them sparingly.

Would you believe me if I told you that my students maybe completed one worksheet a week?

How does that compare with what we see coming home in general from today’s kindergarten classrooms?

Ways to use a worksheet

Now I understand there is value in practicing things in written form, so here are some ways I think you can take a worksheet and make it work harder for you in your classroom.

1. Put it onto a magnadoodle

Shrink a copy of your worksheet onto an overhead and cut it to fit into a Magnadoodle.

I made cards like these and they are much more fun.

Half-size overheads fit great (with the corners trimmed) to fit into the medium sized Magnadoodles.

2. Put it onto an overhead

Take your favorite worksheets and make them last. 

Print them onto an overhead and let students use vis-a-vis markers with them.

Teach them to rinse them off and return them for the next student.

This is much less permanent than paper-and-pencil and feels different since you’re working with a slipper texture.

3. Slide it into a plastic sleeve (or laminate)

Take a worksheet or make one and slide it into a plastic sleeve or you can laminate it.

Test it with your dry erase markers and keep baby socks or kleenex with it to make it a write-on, wipe-off workmat.

Learn to write name for kindergarten

My most-used ones were my: sight word workmatsmy handwriting mats and my decomposing number mats.

But I’ve also used this for name writing and trouble-shooting handwriting specific letters.

4. Turn it into a book

There is more value in reading and doing a little book than simply completing a worksheet.

So, can you take the content you want to cover and turn it into a book?

Here are some of my favorite examples from different content areas to get you thinking:

5. Skip it – Choose the game or hands-on version instead

If you can find a way to skip the worksheet and do something interactive instead – do it!

And I’m not talking about picking a cut-and-paste-let’s-pretend-that’s-interactive worksheet.

Here are some examples where I’ve chosen to replace worksheets in my classroom:

A Fun Way to Get Kinders Blending CVC Words - Roll and Read

Let’s wrap it up

With all of those ideas, I hope you feel empowered to teach the way you want to.

If you ask me to sum up my feelings on worksheets, I’d say:

Be super-critical about which worksheets make the cut in your classroom. Save your favorites and toss (or stash) the rest. {wink}

But now you’ve got at least five ways that you can take the worksheets you want to keep and find a more interactive way to use them in your classroom.

More teacher ideas

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