How to Create Worksheets for the Classroom

Printers and copying machines have replaced carbon paper and typewriters for creating materials.

Reinforce instruction from daily lessons with worksheets that complement covered material without repeating it. Worksheets that can be completed by a student independently force the student to interact with the concepts. When students work independently or in small groups, this also frees the instructor to concentrate on working with individual students on problem areas. Observing students doing worksheet activities independently helps a teacher pinpoint which concepts are difficult for any one student. Worksheets are also handy for bringing students struggling with a concept closer to the mean understanding of the classroom, or for giving above-average students extra concepts to absorb.

Publishers like Houghton Mifflin specialize in complete curriculum packages.

Check with the companies that supply curricula to your classroom. Major textbook publishers often sell supplementary material that is keyed to the lessons you are teaching. Some may even provide CDs that contain resource materials easily printed in your school or district's resource center. Copy worksheets that reinforce students’ skill level for standardized testing; access your state department of education's website and then download and print sample pages for your grade level.

Practice math facts and algebra with extra worksheets.

Generate reinforcing drill work using available online programs. Math concepts are most suited to this process. Programs like "Math Mammoth" provide complete packages of reinforcing arithmetic and algebra work in discreet units sold as reproducibles. Mammoth sells worksheet downloads or CDs tailored either for grade levels or for concept. Independent companies sell software that lets you generate new worksheets for every math level with unique problems on each sheet. Answer keys are generated simultaneously.

Personalize worksheet work for younger children to spark interest. Handwriting worksheets can be printed with personalized exercises. For example, use an online handwriting worksheet generator to print sheets with each student's name, address and phone number for them to trace and copy. (Keep student information confidential by collecting papers after the exercise). Print worksheets that ask students questions about their favorite colors, their pets or family tree and have the worksheets laminated and bound at the end of the unit for a take-home personalized booklet.

Have students do worksheet problems in pairs.

Use scripted workbook programs, like the Well Trained Mind First Language Lessons series, for partnered worksheet work with students who have a fluent reading ability. With scripted lessons, one student can read the instructions and directions while the other follows along and fills in the worksheet pages; and then students trade roles.

Park programs usually have an educational branch.

Go directly to local community resources like museums, historical societies, state and national parks for science and social-studies resources. These organizations often have worksheet booklets that teach local history, geography or geology in a way designed for independent study. The sheets are often also very interactive and oriented toward fun learning. You can often acquire whole classroom packets at no cost to your school, particularly before a field trip or as part of participation in a program like the National Park Service's Junior Ranger program.

Tangrams and other math puzzles strengthen thinking skills.

Make occasional use of activity sheets that flex and build logic, language and number-sense skills through fun puzzles and games. Mazes, crosswords, "hinky-pinkys," sudoku and riddle pages build up basic thinking abilities that can then be applied in many subject areas.

  • Be sure worksheets are content-rich and appropriate for the learning level of the students being instructed. Never use a worksheet simply as filler for time; that job is best filled with independent reading or another flexible activity.
  • Preview worksheets before distributing to make sure no new, untaught concepts are needed for their completion.
  • Dover Publishing provides a weekly free sampler that often includes activity or coloring pages from its child-activity books. These pages are free to print and use in quantity.

Marie Powell was first published professionally in a 1993 edition of "Kalliope" and has contributed to "The Palisade Tribune," "Western Colorado Parent," "Partners to Improve Education," "The Complete Book of Yuma Heat," "Farm and Ranch Living" and the travel section of "The Chicago Tribune." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.