readilearn: What place do worksheets have in your early childhood classroom?

  • Published on August 3, 2018

How do you feel about worksheets? Love them? Hate them? Use them sparingly?

I would say I’ve never been greatly in favour of worksheets. I’m not saying I never used them, but I used them sparingly. If I could do something as well or better without using a worksheet I would. There were a few reasons for this:

  • I valued children’s own work and didn’t feel the need to “pretty” up their books with the work of others.
  • I always looked for ways to progress children’s learning as opposed to keeping them busy.
  • I liked to reduce our paper usage.

Available on the internet and in bookstores are oodles of collections of worksheets; worksheets for anything you can imagine. You can spend hours trawling through websites looking for a sheet to support learning or practice a specific concept. Some of that time could be better spent considering other opportunities you could provide children for learning or practice, or even doing something pleasant for yourself for a change. Now there’s a thought.

When you think you may want a worksheet, or come across a worksheet that you may want to use, stop and evaluate its potential benefit:

  • What does the worksheet require children to do? Does it require them to think or is it simply a repetitious activity that keeps them busy?
  • Is the worksheet related to work they have been learning and provide them with practice and opportunities to consolidate that learning?
  • Does the worksheet represent good value for the expenditure of paper or could children receive the same benefit without a worksheet? If there is only a little print on the page, why not do away with the sheet and get children to write the heading themselves? If children record their work in scrapbooks, which are relatively inexpensive, the books provide a wonderful record of children’s work and development throughout the year.

There are times when a printed worksheet is useful. I’m not suggesting you don’t use them at all. Indeed, there are many printable worksheets available on readilearn. However, none of them are use-on-their-own sheets for repetitive practice. Some are lessons ready to teach and some are for follow-up practice of lessons already taught. I even suggest a non-worksheet alternative for some. It is important to be mindful of your choices and uses.

Worksheet alternatives

Hands-on experiences are often the best for learning and should be incorporated as often as possible.

Interactive lessons on the interactive whiteboard are also an effective alternative. Some of the benefits are:

  • concepts are easily introduced to the whole class or small group
  • children learn from each other as well as the teacher through discussion
  • the teacher leads the discussion and provides feedback in ways that cater for different learning stages
  • the teacher monitors student input to determine next steps for teaching and learning
  • children enjoy contributing ideas and participating in discussions
  • open-ended lessons require children to work collaboratively, listen to each other, and respect others’ ideas and opinions.

readilearn interactive teaching resources for use on the interactive whiteboard

Lessons for the interactive whiteboard

One of the internet’s most popular sites for worksheets is Teachers Pay Teachers. I began with a small store on the site. However, when I realised I was unable to upload interactive content, I knew that I needed to do something different for teachers, and readilearn was born.

One of my main aims is to provide teachers with interactive lessons — lessons ready for them to teach (readilessons) that will save them precious preparation time as well as provide an effective alternative to worksheets.

I know that many teachers have interactive whiteboards in their classrooms but use them as little more than expensive blackboards or whiteboards or for displaying YouTube videos. readilearn’s interactive resources fill a gap with lessons ready to teach.

Many of the interactive lessons present concepts in an open-ended way that allows the students, through discussion with the teacher, to decide on the appropriateness of their responses. The lessons also allow the teacher to adjust the discussion to learning needs and to highlight specific teaching points. The lessons do not replace the teacher. Instead, they support teachers teaching and students learning.

Interactive lessons and estories (original stories to read on the whiteboard) in the readilearn collection now number over forty. That’s enough for at least one a week for each week of the school year. I continue to add new interactive resources each month. In fact, I have uploaded two new interactive teaching resources this week. I am always happy to receive suggestions for new resources you would like added to the collection.

introducing new resources on readilearn

I spy an interactive counting game developing understanding of numbers one to ten

I Spy a counting game is a fun resource that helps to develop understanding of numbers up to ten. Children find and count the number of items that owl sees on each slide.
The items to be found are shown in grey at the top of each slide. As they click each item found, an item at the top of the slide is coloured. It is easy for children to see when all items have been found.

The resource supports children’s learning to:

  • Rote count
  • Count by ones
  • Count with one-to-one correspondence
  • Supply missing addends
  • Recognise numbers, numerals and words.

interactive 9 square turtle-themed puzzle for the interactive whiteboard

The interactive 9 square turtle puzzle works like any other 9 square puzzle, with 9 puzzle pieces arranged in a 3 x 3 grid. The picture-pieces on the side of each square must match to make a whole.

Children drag and drop the pieces onto the mat to complete the puzzle.

While it is easier to complete than paper or cardboard puzzles, it is still quite challenging and may require a number of attempts.

Free for one week only

Because of the expense of the software and the time required to make them, most interactive resources are available only to subscribers.

For this week only, these two new resources will be available free to registered users as well. If you haven’t yet registered, do so now so you can see how easy it is to use readilearn’s interactive lessons in your classroom.

These two new lessons are also suitable for the homeschool situation, and parents and grandparents may like to use them with their children and grandchildren as well. Be sure to let your friends know of this special offer. As with all readilearn interactive lessons, functionality is optimised on a computer.

Register now to begin using free resources, or Subscribe for access to all readilearn resources, assisting teachers of children in their first three years of school.

gift subscription to early childhood teaching resources for the first three years of school

A readilearn subscription also makes a special gift to let early childhood teachers know their work is appreciated. Contact me for details.

readilearn: teaching resources for the first three years of school
Resources beyond worksheets – lessons for teachers made by teachers.
Let readilearn lighten your workload.


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    The inter-active whiteboard, when used properly is a great tool, Norah. I must say thought that, as a parent, I have found an undue reliance on this with some of my sons teachers. It shouldn’t, in my view, replace all other methods of teaching. Variety is needed.

    I agree with you about variety, Robbie. It’s definitely important to maintain interest. Active learning is so much better than sitting listening. I see lessons on the interactive whiteboard as a balanced approach.
    I’m surprised that you feel some teachers are over-using the whiteboard. From what I’ve seen and heard, it’s often under-utilised or not used effectively. I’d love to know how the teachers use it.

    I think the whiteboard is a great idea. Definitely getting the kids involved interactively is a great and fun way to learn. 🙂

    Thank you, Debby. It does make for variety and adds interest to the day.

    The interactive whiteboard is such a new concept to me! But I like the idea of it being interactive. I also agree with the power of hands-on experience.

    Thank you, Charli. Lessons on the interactive whiteboard provide a nice balance between hands-on and worksheet activities, when hands-on is not practical.

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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