Making Worksheets Work for You

Worksheets. They’re a nice, easy option, aren’t they? A lovely simple print-out-30-copies job that can save your bacon at the last minute… Need to keep that supply class quiet for 45 minutes? Had a school assembly cancelled last minute? Worksheets are your friends, right?

Well, be warned! Any teacher who has fallen back on or based a lesson around a worksheet knows that there are many pitfalls that can derail a lesson. What if it’s too easy? Too boring? Not relevant? Too tempting a potential paper aeroplane blueprint?

Follow our advice for ways to get meaningful and engaging work out of your worksheets. Primary classes, in particular, will appreciate you making the effort to use familiar resources in fun and creative ways.

1. Build up a bank of reusable ‘skills practise’ worksheets. Key skills such as telling the time, completing times table grids or improving a ‘boring’ sentences are great to regularly practise with your primary classes. Laminated reusable worksheets which require practise of the key skills your class need can be very productive time fillers. “OK Year 5, who can complete 3 key skills worksheets and explain to me how they’ve improved their skills?”


2. Create competition from the worksheet – many children don’t like to be faced with endless columns of multiplication calculations to slog through… Why not split the worksheet into sections and challenge different groups to complete their section within a time limit before having a competition to see who can teach the class their method in the clearest way?

3. Peer teaching – Pair up your students into As and Bs and give each student their own set of questions. Student A also has the answers to Student B’s questions, and student B has student A’s answers. Students use the success criteria for your lesson to take it in turns coaching each other towards completing their answers.

4. ‘Penslinger Showdowns’ – Put your students into groups of 3 – 4. One student takes it in turns to be the ‘Showdown Sheriff’ and read out a quick-fire question from the worksheet. The other children write down their answers on mini whiteboards and the ‘Sherriff’ says, ‘3 … 2 … 1… Showdown!’ before the group show their answers. The students then discuss who has the correct answer and coach those who have made a mistake.


Please let us know how you get the most out of your worksheets at We love hearing from you.