We rarely use worksheets because they don’t align with our teaching style. We tend to use a lot of project based learning or inquiry process activities, but every so often we find that our students need a little extra practice with computation in math. That is when we bring out the worksheets.
However, we don’t often just hand them out and expect our students to fill them in. Here are some ways we use a math worksheet in a less than traditional way.
Where to Get the Math Worksheets
There are math worksheets all over the internet, but if you’re looking for specific outcomes, we have several sets in our store designed to align with the Alberta Program of Studies. There is a complete list at the bottom of this post.
If you’re looking to trial a few, you can download a free sample in our Teachers Pay Teachers Store:
Fool Your Friend
How to Set It Up: Give every student that will be playing a worksheet. (If you have different groups, they should have a worksheet they can complete on their own with very few mistakes. To differentiate, have each group use their own worksheet, but everyone can do the activity at the same time.) When students complete the worksheet they can choose to answer the questions correctly or incorrectly. They can pick none, all or any amount in between.
How to Play: Each student trades their page with another student (using the same worksheet). That student grades the page and tries to find the mistakes. When they find a mistake, they need to compute the correct answer to show the student the error.
The Answer Key
How to Set It Up: Complete a worksheet and make a set of copies with the answers included. Throw in a few mistakes for fun and a bit of a challenge.
How to Play: Have students check the answer key to make sure all the answers are correct. If they are incorrect, be sure to write the correct answer so the key will be right.
Mark the Teacher
This is a variation and more challenging version of The Answer Key.
How to Set It Up: Take one copy of the worksheet and fill it in so that some of the questions have errors. Try to make different types of errors: silly ones (where you copy something down incorrectly or use the wrong operation), calculation (where you add, multiply, divide or subtract incorrectly), or procedural (where you do something out of order, do the steps out of sequence, or calculate from the wrong side of the equation). Make a class set of these completed pages or display it on your screen.
How to Play: Have students examine your answers, but more than just finding the correct answer, can they figure out the type of mistake that you made? Teaching students about the different types of mistakes can help them identify mistakes when they are working and checking their own work.
If you need a quick assessment, using a worksheet is a great way to check on your student understanding.
How to Set It Up: Hand out a worksheet with the types of questions you are assessing. This works great with a page that has different types of questions.
How to Play: Ask students to choose five of the questions and answer them correctly. No need to do repeated questions when they can show you in five.
Modify This: We mark this as students finish. They MUST get five correct to be finished, so if they bring it to us with 3/5 they have to go pick two more questions and finish them.
Cut it Up
How to Set It Up: You will need one question per student in your class. For this example, let’s pretend that means two worksheets. Cut up the worksheet so each question becomes it’s own piece. To make it more fun, make it like a puzzle. Hand out the questions randomly (from either page) so everyone has one. If you have leftover questions answer them yourself or have some of your early finishers complete them.
How to Play: Students will answer the question they have and then find the missing pieces to rebuild the whole worksheet. Race to see which worksheet can be put together first with all the correct answers.
Half ‘n Half
How to Set It Up: Cut worksheets in half with jagged edges (kind of like a puzzle piece). Hand out the half worksheets randomly to your students.
How to Play: Have students find their match. Each student completes their own half a worksheet and then trades it with their match to mark it. Alternatively, students can work with their match to complete the page together.
Talk it Through
How to Set It Up: Put students in pairs. One student has a copy of a worksheet and the other partner has a whiteboard and marker or a blank piece of scrap paper. They will be able to switch back and forth.
How to Play: The student with the worksheet will have to communicate the equation to the other player without showing them the worksheet. So, they would need to read the equation, the question or tell them what to write. The player with the worksheet can look at what the other player writes or draws, but cannot touch, point or help in any other way. The player without the worksheet will try to write out the question and answer it. When they get it correct they switch roles and try it again.
A very loud alternative to this game is to put your students in teams and race against each other on a white board in front of the class. The confusion makes for lots of fun.
This is a great game for smaller groups. To have several groups at the same time, print the worksheets for each group on a different colour. We have lots of suggestions for ways to differentiate in your classroom in our post: Differentiate in Less Time.
How to Set It Up: For each small group, hide a copy of different worksheets around the room. You will need as a many worksheets as you have students in each group and there will need to be one question per group member. So if your group has seven students you would need seven different worksheets and each worksheet would need to have at least seven questions. Put your students in each small group and have themselves number off (so there will be a one, a two etc.)
How to Play: Students explore the room looking for the worksheets (or the colour of worksheets designated for their group) and they have to answer the number they’ve been assigned. So, if little Johnny is number three and doing the blue pages, he will find all the blue pages and answer question #3 on each page.
When all the students have done all their pages, the group collects them and checks their answers. Alternatively, they could check another’s groups answers if they can do the math.
Another option is to have each group hide another group’s worksheets. They have fun and you don’t have to do any of the hiding. Win-win!
How to Set It Up: Divide your students into small groups of three to four students and give them a worksheet with the same number of questions. Each member in the group numbers themselves one to four (or three for smaller groups). You can use different questions for each group, but it’s easier to keep track if you use the same numbers for each group (1, 2, 3, 4).
How to Play: Students work with their teams to answer all the questions assigned to their team. All the students in the group need to be able to answer and explain any of the questions. When the groups have figured out their answers, call out a group and a number randomly. The numbered student will need to answer the question without the help of the team.
How to Set It Up: Divide your class in half. One half sits in a circle facing outward and one half sits facing a partner inward. The inner circle gets one question. They will need to know the answer. The outer circle gets a whiteboard and marker. They will be figuring out the answers. Each time you play switch up the students in the inner and outer circles.
How to Play: When the time begins, the inner circle student gives the question to the outer circle student to solve. The inner circle student can teach, coach or correct the outer student (but cannot just tell them the answer). When the round is finished, everyone in the outer circle moves one chair to the right. They repeat the activity (but have a new question) until your time is up or they’ve gone around the whole circle.
Ninja Note: We reused the questions from in the inner circle when we played the second time because the outer circle students only knew the answer to the one question they’d held in the first round.
How to Set It Up: When you have a small group who is struggling with a skill, use one worksheet at a table with these learners. They can complete the same question, watch you complete a question, work in pairs, or try them independently.
How to Play: Just work through the steps together until you can scaffold and have students working toward completing a question independently. They don’t need to fill in every single question on every single page, but just enough to grasp the skill to level you expect.
Use these pages over an over again to review and reinforce concepts.
Centres or Stations
How to Set It Up: You can use most of the activities from above as a math centre or station. Create a simple set of instructions for your students and then let them run the activity independently during this time.
How to Play: While you are working with individuals or small groups, your more independent students can do the activities independently.
So as you can see, there are lots of ways to use a worksheet that encourage collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking and understanding of the actual math skills. None of these ways are just sit and do a worksheet (even though that’s fine too sometimes).
While not all students learn from a worksheet, they can be a tool that helps reinforce concepts and can be used as a tool to assess students.
Many of these games can be adjusted to play using task cards. You might be interested in our post: The Trouble With Task Cards and How to Fix It. It includes a free Whamu! game that can be played with any set of paper task cards. Find it in our Resource Library or we can send it to you when you sign up for our email list.
Looking for the math worksheets we use with our students? These link to the bundles with the titles for all the sets we currently have and use. We will always update them as we need.
Grade 3 Math Worksheets
Grade 4 Math Worksheets
Grade 5 Math Worksheets
Have you tried any of these ways to use a math worksheet? Do you have another way that we should add? Leave us a comment below and we’ll add to the list.