Work-sheet FREE Wednesday

When I say “Free” I am not talking about the price. I don’t mean that you can go download it for free and then save it and move on with your life. I am talking about totally leaving work-sheets out of our day. A day free of work-sheets.


Because I think that as teachers, we have gotten a little (ahem) lazy. I am totally 100% putting myself in the middle of that. I am not above a work-sheet. I am not above extra practice and let me tell you, I am not above trying to keep my little babies “busy” so I can assess or do groups or whatever other million things I have to do. I think skill and drill is just part of school. However, it shouldn’t be the focus of our day. Our lesson plan drawers, folders, bins {whatever it is} shouldn’t be spilling papers out everywhere. When and if you see that, you know that you might need some serious revamping.

 I am starting to catch myself in a trend of not thinking outside of the box on a day to day basis. I think we all get caught up in that. You see a skill that has to be taught, you see a work-sheet, and you think, “Bam! Another skill checked off and on to the next work-sheet”.


There is a time and place (which should be seldom) for work-sheets. And today was not the day. Let’s face it. There is no great lesson out there that hooks our students with “This fabulous work-sheet!”

Instead of sitting here and telling you how work-sheets don’t provide critical engaging thinking…let me provide you with some ideas on how you can turn your day in to a day filled with learning and meaningful academic talk with your kids. How you can engage your students more than any work-sheet every will. Because let’s face it, do YOU want to do a work-sheet?

Didn’t think so.

This is what led me to my work-sheet free day. It was not as hard as some of you might be thinking 🙂


I would love to walk you through what our day looked like today. I will try to describe what we normally do and then how I substituted it for something sans work-sheet.

Normally, for morning work, my students come in and complete a sight word page. We typically introduce and learn 3 sight words per week.

Today, this is what I wrote on the board.


When the students came in, they had white butcher paper covering the tables. They had to pick 6 words and write different sentences. We have really been focusing on capital letters and punctuation when writing. If your students aren’t quite ready for this, you could have them write sight words or practice writing their name. Anything on butcher paper is exciting 🙂



For our morning meeting, we got out the shaving cream. On a typical day, we do a page from Building Skills. Yes, it was in their hair and on their clothes. Yes, they thought it was the BEST thing they have ever done and it only cost me $1 from the dollar store to make it happen.

We wrote the date, day of the week, CVC words, practiced our sight word for the day, and re-wrote a sentence that needed fixing. I just put the page that we were going to do under the projector and they answered on their tables.



We also played sight word bingo. You could also play Word Wall Wizard. (Click here to see how to play it. I’ve done a post on it already so there is no reason to do it twice 🙂 You have to scroll to the middle of the post to see it.


I have really been loving this unit from Deanna and Deedee. The skill we worked on today was re-telling. I read The Snowy Day yesterday and today. I usually do re-telling with pictures so this wasn’t really out of the ordinary. We did it whole group. Then, the students went back to their seats and cut out their own pictures to re-tell with their reading buddy.



I really focused on having them use “story-telling” words. Meaning, I wanted them to say “first”, “then”, “after that”, and “at the end of the story…”. They took the pictures home and I asked them to re-tell the story to their parents as well.


It was brutally cold today and we had to stay indoors for recess. I had the students make their own Peter. We talked about background and we will do the writing piece for writer’s workshop on Friday. You can click on the picture or click here to get this activity from a previous blog post that I did last year.


The last thing that we did during our literacy block was talk about and read about winter. I read a non-fiction book and we acted out some winter verbs. The kiddos went back to their seats, highlighted the action verbs in this emergent reader and then we went to lunch. We didn’t spend more time on it than that. Again, probably something that I would have done before but I didn’t have them take the time to color or hunt for sight words.



After lunch, it was time for math. We did our normal calendar folders since we are so close to the 100th day….we can’t miss a day of it!

I am not claiming this activity as mine. If you were the one that made it up, then I will gladly give you credit! I just can’t remember where I got the idea because I’ve done it for a few years 🙂

Number Building Snowball fight!

Can I just be real with you?

It is a bunch of white paper with numbers on it crumbled up in to small trash wads. You say that it is a snowball and gosh darn if it isn’t.

We started easy today. I just did numbers to 30.


I scattered all of the “snowballs” around the carpet. I turned off the lights and let them pretend they were having a snowball fight.


When I turned the lights back on, they had to go back to their seats and build their numbers with base ten blocks.



We made number cards and played a game. The students had to line the cards up in order. One partner would remove a card and hide it behind their back. The other partner had to guess which card it was and explain why they knew that number was missing. Once they were feeling confident with the numbers, they switched and did the number dots to strengthen subitizing and number sense.



Every Wednesday, we do Wednesday Word Problems. Typically, we do it on a page with a clipboard and a pencil. Today, we did it on whiteboards and I just made up a problem on the board.



The end of the day was science. I am just in the beginning stages of talking about matter. I always introduce it by showing them the different stages of water as a solid, liquid,and gas. All you have to show them is water in a cup, an ice cube, and then heat up a cup of water until there is steam coming off of it. They used their interactive science and social studies notebooks to record their observations. (This is an activity in a unit I’m working on, but I don’t have it posted quite yet. I’ll let you know when it’s ready 🙂


That was IT! You can (and should) give this a try! It is amazing what they learn and soak up when content is delivered in a different way.  You don’t have to do every single thing that I talked about. Maybe you can think of one way that you could swap out a work-sheet for an activity.

I did tell parents about the plan and then I followed up with an e-mail. If you would like to use this letter or have it as a starting point for your communication with your parents, feel free to use it!


At the end of the day, I sent a follow-up e-mail with some pictures from the day and questions they could ask their kiddos about what they did at school.

Here is the image that I sent to parents.


Get outside of your teaching box and think of other ways that you can make your students excited about school!


  1. I LOVE every single little thing about this!!!!! I want to start this ASAP! Thanks for sharing such a great idea! It looks like your day was just perfect! 🙂


  2. LOVE~LOVE~LOVE this post. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us! Amber ~ Kindergarten Rocks Blog

  3. Christina says:

    I am inspired to do this with my second graders such a wonderful and simple idea! Thanks so much! 🙂

  4. I loooove this! Going to try some of these for sure!! Thanks for the ideas!!

  5. sandy welch says:

    Wonderful! And I bet the kids can’t wait until next Wednesday! Great letter home.

  6. SO fun! I am guilty as charged for work sheets at the moment! But this is inspiring ,thank you!

  7. i LOVE this! I’m going to see how I can start doing this in my class!

  8. What a great post, Elizabeth! I love the ideas you used and I am definitely going to use some of these activities. I say this would make a great linky party for people to show ideas of what they can do for a work-sheet free Wednesday! Thanks so much for getting our brains moving today!! Linda G.

  9. I love this post!! In the constant need for differentiation and daily interventions, it is so tempting to use worksheets to manage the needs of learners that are not quite independent. Thank you for refreshing my thinking as I go back to the planning stages. I love that it is one day, sounds like a New Year’s Resolution!!!

  10. Kim Penland says:

    I love this! As teachers we do often rely on worksheets to get through the day. There is a time and place for worksheets but other methods can be just as effective. Awesome! Thank you for the challenge! I am going to do this in my classroom!

  11. I am so doing this! I LOVE IT!!! I feel like this should be a weekly link-up….filled with fun ideas for worksheet free Wednesdays! Fabulous idea, Elizabeth!