Task cards are my “go to” learning resource because they are so versatile. However, as with many great resources, we sometimes get stuck in a rut by not “thinking outside the box” when it comes to usage. So, I thought I would compile a list of my 10 favorite ways to use these handy little cards. But before I do that, I want to make sure you know what task cards are!
Task cards are simply cards that have a specific question, task, or text on them. Typically they’re about 3”x5”, but occasionally they’re as large as a ½ sheet of paper. All of the necessary information is written on the card including the directions. Your kiddos answer the question or complete the task on a response sheet or simply a sheet of notebook paper. That’s it! Now, let’s get into all of the unique ways you can use them.
Skill Practice with Task Cards
When used as an introduction or pretest, task cards are amazing. You can do a simple pre-assessment to gauge where your kids are on the learning spectrum. This will help you identify gaps and areas of weakness.
Choose just a few task cards from a set that pinpoint the exact skill you want to teach. Then based on the pretest results, you can adjust your teaching accordingly.
Sometimes your kiddos need a bit more practice with a specific skill, but you don’t want to make them do a bunch of “drill and practice” exercises. This is when you reach for the task cards.
If you’re in a classroom environment, you can place one card at a time under your document camera. Your students can then write their answers on individual whiteboards, and hold up the boards for a quick check from you. This is a super-simple assessment that you can do with minimal prep.
Sometimes our kids need extra help. Whether it’s just for a certain concept or for the subject matter in general, we need to have resources that speak to the need. You might choose to work with kiddos individually or in a small group, but either way you need to address the weaknesses.
Task cards for the win! Ok, ok…that might be somewhat dramatic, but I think you get the point. Task cards are a fabulous resource to use in these circumstances. You can target just those skills that seem to be a struggle for your kiddos without all sorts of prep. The kids get additional help, and you don’t spend unnecessary time (7 hours) preparing. If you ask me, it’s a win-win.
Task cards are perfect for exit tickets because they are individualized. Each child gets one card and a Post-It Note. After reading the directions on their task cards, the kids write an answer on their Post-It, turn in the task card, and stick their Post-It on the wall.
This is an easy way to see who understands the daily skill and who doesn’t. And, since each child receives a different card, all of the answers will be different. Thus, no one knows who has a correct or incorrect answer.
Right before testing, we like to make sure we review as many skills as possible with our kiddos. We want them to be able to access all of the information they’ve learned throughout the year during this time.
This is another perfect opportunity to use those task cards. You can use them as a whole group, a small group, or individually. But, no matter how you choose to implement them, they will be helpful.
Do you ever have just couple of minutes during a transitional time? Maybe you are waiting to switch classes or waiting for school pictures. You don’t want to waste any time because it’s way too valuable. But sometimes life and school simply throw in a few “layovers” and you have to improvise.
Enter…the task cards. Hold up one card at a time. The person in the front of the line has to answer in 3 seconds or they go to the back of the line. As they answer correctly, they get to stand to the side. Once everyone has given a correct answer, you start the game again as needed! My kiddos always loved this activity.
Games with Task Cards
My absolute favorite movement activity to use in the classroom is the SCOOT. My kids asked to do a SCOOT every day! If you’ve never heard this term, a SCOOT is a whole class game where kids rotate between desks and do a task at each desk. It’s a high engagement, fast paced game that students love!
The best part about this is that you can use any task cards or review cards you already have. Place one card on each desk and have the students take a piece of paper and a pencil with them from desk to desk. (I always added fun music while we did our SCOOTs and the kids were allowed to “dance” at their desks AFTER completing the task there.)
You can modify this activity is you homeschool by placing the cards all over the house. Your kiddos simply move from room to room to answer all of the questions. I guarantee this will be a crowd pleaser.
Around the Room
This is similar to a SCOOT, but instead of moving from desk to desk, kids move around the room. I’ve done this several ways including pairs, small groups, and independently. There are pros and cons to each, but one isn’t better than another. Just consider what your purpose is with this exercise, and that will dictate your groupings.
The task cards can be placed on desks, tables, cubbies, shelves, or even on the walls. Since this activity requires kids to write in a variety of locations, I’ve found clipboards to be the perfect mobile writing surface. And, because they LOVE using clipboards, you have a winning activity.
4 Corner Game
This game is a little different from both the SCOOT and the “Around the Room” activity. However, in this game you post 4 anchor charts in four separate places in the room. Each child gets a task card. Then they are to find the anchor chart that matches their individual cards.
For example, in my Punctuation Activity Pack, there are 4 anchor charts that include the different types of ending punctuation. Each child gets a sentence without any punctuation marks. Their task is to find the appropriate ending, and stand at the coordinating anchor chart. When everyone has chosen, you can go over each sentence and let your kiddos use hand signals to agree or disagree with each choice.
This game is for a minimum of 3 kiddos. One child is the “music stopper” while the others sit in a circle. The game is exactly like hot potato, but instead of passing one object around, they’ll be passing a container of task cards. (Make sure you teach appropriate behavior for this activity as it can get a bit out of hand. The more excited the kids get, the faster the task cards fly!)
For this particular activity, the task cards should be designed more like flashcards. Math facts, parts of speech, or punctuation task cards would be perfect. While the activity is not a quiet one, the kiddos have a lot of fun with it and they are learning in the process.
If you’ve never used task cards, you need to get some today. Find an area of weakness or a topic your kiddos need to review, and search for task cards that cover the skill. Then implement one or two of the ideas I’ve mentioned, and you’ll find that your students are actually excited about learning!
I have several sets of Task Cards available in my TpT shop. You can click on the picture below to be taken to the specific set you want, or you can click here and you will be taken to my Task Cards page.