Making Reusable iPad Worksheets: Leo's Learning Revolution Continues

Leo's room is usually a flurry of worksheets -- for matching, sight reading, writing practice, basic math, dot-to-dot puzzles, all sorts of learning. I used to laminate the most frequently used sheets so as to reduce paper use, but now we're managing to do without many of those paper worksheets entirely -- we're porting the worksheets to Leo's iPad, cobbling a process together via the free apps DropBox, iBooks, and DrawFree.

Leo enjoys his iPad worksheets, whether he uses them with a stylus or in traditional touchscreen mode. The iPad format makes them easier for him to use than paper ones, and fun, too -- once again our boy is learning in ways no one anticipated.

Here's how I've been making Leo's reusable iPad worksheets:

Short version
  1. Create worksheets in .doc or PDF format, on a computer
  2. Upload them to the iPad using a shared DropBox folder
  3. Save them on the iPad in an iBooks collection, so they're all in one place
  4. Open worksheets in iBooks, then take a screenshot
  5. Open that screenshot as a DrawFree background. Voila: fresh new worksheet.
Long version

1) Leo's program supervisor creates curriculum worksheets on her computer, in Word. (We use .doc or .pdf format files.)

2) Everyone on Leo's team installs DropBox (a Cloud storage service) on their desktops, and I install the DropBox app on Leo's iPad.

3) I create a Leo's Activities folder on my desktop, and formally invite everyone on Leo's team to access it via DropBox Sharing (which lets the Leo's Activities folder and any changes we make to it appear on everyone's desktops).

4) Leo's program supervisor uploads a Numeral Matching sheet to the Leo's Activities DropBox folder.

5) I open the DropBox app on Leo's iPad, find the Numeral Matching sheet, and choose to open it in iBooks.

6) I save the Numeral Matching worksheet to a Leo's Activities collection I've created in iBooks, so we can use his worksheets whether the iPad has online access or not.

7) Now for the reusable part. Whenever it's time for Leo to work on one of his worksheets, I open it in iBooks, then take a screenshot by pressing the iPad's home and on/off buttons (note: every image in this post is a screenshot). The screenshot will be saved as the last image in the iPad's Photo Library.

8) I open the simple drawing app DrawFree, and click Background. I choose Photo Library Background, and select the worksheet image I just created.

9) Leo uses DrawFree to go to town on his totally reusable and replaceable worksheet.

If anyone has similar iPad worksheet processes -- especially more streamlined ones -- please do share them.


  1. Holy.Cow. You have just given me the tool I need to help kick Nik's i-learning up another notch and to incorporate with school (assuming they'll play along; it's been quite a battle). I wish to heaven our district/state would consider bringing you here for a professional development training day. There are SO MANY children missing out because educators don't know how to use the technology and don't have the time (or don't make it a priority) to learn/experiement.

  2. Love this and will totally be using it.

  3. Using Pages($9.99 iOS app) a simple worksheet could be created quickly right on the iPad. It's easy to display in full page view and then take a screen shot with the camera. From there it can be picked from DrawFree with Photo Library Background option. Voila- a quick and easy paperless worksheet.

    The downside of this is not havng it filed in iBooks without some extra steps. I heard that the new iOS might be coming up with some better options for photo storage. It would be handy to create a new folder right in photos to store worksheets.

  4. flewis11:48 AM

    You can save two steps in the above process if you save your worksheets as JPEG files rather than PDF files. Then in the Drop Box on the iPad you can save them directly to the camera roll rather than to iBooks. You can keep a folder in Drop Box called worksheets and just keep all your worksheets there.

  5. @flewis, that will definitely work for some worksheets -- but not the ones Leo's team creates in Word. Those can be saved in a variety of different formats, but the only graphic-friendly format is .PDF.

  6. This is just totally fantastic!
    Thank you so much

  7. Very helpful! I've been wondering about how to use this for my son in planning his day. Good idea.

    I just figured out that PDFS can be opened with the Kindle App and am in the process of writing a "Life After High School" booklet...Oh iPad, I love you.

  8. Any tips for creating a data collection form in a similar way? We take a lot of data using word documents for behavior, supplements, academics, etc and have yet to figure out to use those forms on the iPad and eliminate the paper trail.

  9. Google docs are your friend. http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2010/08/does-your-child-with-autism-have-daily.html


Respectful disagreement encouraged.