Some time in the last decade the word “worksheet” got a bad rap. Some claim they are only busywork. Others say teachers use them instead of teaching. While still others say worksheets are just downright boring. But the worksheet is so much more than all of these things. If chosen intentionally, there’s great learning power in the skills practice that comes in the form of a worksheet. Here’s some easy ways to make worksheets fun and engaging in the classroom.
1. Pick Your Problems
One of my favorite ways to increase student engagement is to let my students pick the problems they want to complete. I tell them how many problems they must complete, but I let them pick which ones they want to do. Just having a little choice and not having to answer every question makes this a hit with students every time!
2. No Paper – No Pencil
Put away the paper and pencils and pull out the dry-erase markers. It’s amazing how just changing up the method will engage students. Laminate the worksheets or slide them into a page protector and let students complete them with a dry erase marker.
Need to grade the activity and worried about dry erase markers erasing? No problem! Let students use a Sharpie marker. The Sharpie won’t erase before you grade – but there is a secret to getting it off! Simply write over the Sharpie marker with a dry erase marker and wipe clean!
Want to take it to another level? Project the worksheet problem for the class to see, and then let them complete the problem on their desk using a dry-erase marker. When you tell the students they get to writ on their desk they are going to love it!
3. Scavenger Hunt
Instead of providing every student with the worksheet, provide them with an answer sheet (or a blank sheet of paper). Then cut apart the worksheet and post each question around the room or in the hallway. Students can work individually or in groups to find all the questions and document their answer on the answer sheet. Now that is an easy way to make worksheets fun!
Not only do they get the skills practice but they get some movement in their day too! If the weather is nice, a worksheet scavenger hunt outside is a great option.
4. Partner Practice
In Partner Practice students work with a partner to complete the worksheet. But there’s a important catch . . . both students must agree on the answer. If the students disagree, then they must explain how they got their answer to their partner. Together they work through the problem until they come to an agreement. This worksheet activity gets students talking, explaining and questioning. All great thinking skills they won’t likely get working on their own.
5. Beat the Teacher
Some worksheets are just perfect for a little healthy competition. Instead of having students compete against each other, they compete against the teacher. Doing some math practice? Set a timer and see how many problems can get done in a certain amount of time. Working on vocabulary? See who can define the most words. Students love the challenge of beating the teacher!
Like all competitions, Beat the Teacher should always end with a round of high fives!
BONUS IDEA: Be the Teacher
Assign each student 1 problem or question on the worksheet. Yep – just one. Then have students come up and be the teacher and teach the rest of the class their one problem. As students teach and explain they are using higher level thinking skills than just answering the questions. Also, the rest of the class is likely to be more engaged listening to their peers.
Skills Based Worksheets
If you are looking for some quality skills based worksheets for your upper elementary classroom, check out these:
- 3rd Grade Math Practice for the Entire Year
- 4th Grade Math Practice for the Entire Year
- 5th Grade Math Practice for the Entire Year
- Grammar Posters and Practice
- Parts of Speech Worksheets That Kids Love!
- 5 Fun Christmas Math Worksheets for Upper Elementary Classrooms
Just save this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so that you can come back for more ideas on how to make worksheets fun and engaging.