Engaging activities for busting out of busywork in your class: 6 alternatives to worksheets to use in 2022

Engaging activities for breaking out of busywork in your class can include many different activities. Teachers have often used worksheets and other busy work activities just to keep students occupied. However, there is a way to turn this busywork into productive learning activities.

Engaging activities keep the students focused on the work rather than straying away from the assignments. Activities are designed for learning, engagement, and assessment of understanding.

Alternatives to Worksheets

What is busywork?

Busywork is work that is not productive but keeps students occupied. The point of busywork is to ensure students are entertained and not getting into trouble. There are many ways to change busywork into engaging activities.

Why do students resist busy work?

Some students resist busy work because they feel that it is meaningless, boring, and not engaging. Sometimes, students would rather have meaningful, productive work than busywork.

Students may resist busy work if it is higher or lower than their educational capacity. Students can get frustrated with busy work if it is too complicated or not engaging enough. Students might resist if the teacher delivers the information and assigns it to students before they can do the work independently.

Focus on intentional practice in the classroom

Intentional practice in the classroom means teachers need to have an idea of each assignment’s purpose in the classroom. Everything done in the classroom should be an engaging activity with a purpose.

Focusing on intentional practice in the classroom is crucial. This intentional practice will keep the teacher and students engaged. In addition, having an idea of where the assignment is heading for students’ learning is essential to keep the students engaged.

One way to create an intentional practice in the classroom is to create high-level play rather than low-level play. High-level play involves scenarios, roles, props, and much planning. High-level play creates an intentional classroom with interactive and engaging activities.

How can you turn a worksheet into an activity for your students?

Knowing how to turn a worksheet into an activity is a good skill for teachers. Turning a worksheet into an activity includes reciprocal learning, Quiz Quiz Trade, Showdown, The Flashcard Game, group contests, and logic puzzles. It is crucial to have engaging activities when turning a worksheet into an activity.

Reciprocal Learning with Quiz Quiz Trade

Reciprocal learning is an activity where two students coach each other to figure out the answer. You can pair this with a game called “Quiz Quiz Trade.” Quiz Quiz Trade is where each student has a flashcard with a question and an answer. Then, the students quiz each other and trade cards to quiz each other some more. Both students benefit from this activity because the question asker has to think through the concept to give hints and coach, and the responder has to answer questions. 


Showdown starts with a group with a captain. The group captain reads the question, and the other students write down their answers. When it is time for the showdown, everyone reveals their answers, which prompts a discussion about the question and answer.

Flashcard Game

The Flashcard Game involves two students. Students pair up for this game.  They use flashcards to review information in three rounds. Fewer clues are given as the rounds go. You can have students make their flashcards for this so that there is added review.

Group Contests

You can use group contests as a classroom activity. Group contests are where everyone guesses answers to the question given. Each student has a different question to ensure that they are actively engaged and guessing answers to their question. You can play this format can over Zoom or Google Meet for distance learning.

Logic Puzzles

Logic puzzles involve a set of different problems for each student. First, the teacher gives hints about another student’s puzzle to a student. Students work independently on their puzzles for a given amount of time. The students then work together on each other’s puzzles. Try this strategy out in math classes when you’re trying to get a new process down!

Gamify your worksheet with online interactive digital worksheets

TeacherMade provides the perfect alternative to worksheets by creating engaging, interactive activities that your students complete online. You can upload any traditional worksheet and turn it into a game. Use our drag and drop tool to gamify practice activities to increase student engagement. 

Drag and Drop Tool

Turn your worksheets into gamified digital activities that your students will love! Auto-Graded Drag and Drop is now part of TeacherMade, and it might be the coolest feature that we’ve added to our app yet!

Why use the Drag and Drop tool?

    • Snip background objects and create Drop Zones for them to land in. Connect the two, and give the Drop Zone points – you are ready to go!
    • Make Teacher Text and Image objects draggable.
    • Use for label, cloze, categorization, and more!
    • Works great on an iPad

PreMade Drag and Drop Activities for You to Explore

Here are links to activities already TeacherMade’d using the Drag and Drop feature: Labeling a Plant – Practice TeacherMade Activity

This activity has students label the parts of a plant using the new auto-scored Drag and Drop tool

Parts of a Plant Worksheet

Organize the parts of Speech – Practice TeacherMade Activity

This activity asks students to categorize words from a list into nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs.

Parts of Speech Worksheet

If you want to recreate these activities from scratch, and practice using Drag and Drop on your own, here are the PDFs:

The Snipping Tool

There would be no Drag and Drop on uploaded worksheets without the Snipping Tool! It has special powers!

How to Use the Snipping Tool

Snipping Tool For Non-Auto-Scored Drag & Drop: The student will be able to drag the image anywhere on the worksheet, and the teacher will see their placement and can manually grade based on their evaluation of correctness.

Teachermade Snipping Tool

Create an interactive activity as an alternative to worksheets today!