Task cards are one of my favorite ways to add variety and fun to my primary classroom. One of the best features? Once you have prepared a set of task cards, you can easily reuse them with little to no prep, saving you tons of time!
What Are Task Cards?
Think of them as flashcards, but with a wider purpose. At their most basic, one side of each card includes a question or a problem to solve. The other side has the correct answer so students can self-correct.
My phonics task cards include a variety of activities for students to complete. In one set, students match uppercase letters to lowercase. In another, students see a picture of a CVC word, for example, a cat, and they must spell out the word on their answer sheet.
There are tons of ways to use task cards for practicing math skills as well. My math bundle has eight different sets of cards for pre-K through 1st grade. Students use the task cards to work on identifying the correct order of numbers, matching the numeral to the written word, adding and subtracting, and more.
I have a set of task cards for just about every major phonics and math skill because they are so effective and versatile! They’re also perfect for last-minute sub plans. Once students get the hang of how to use them, they need very little direction, so you can focus on helping them with the concept they are practicing, instead of reminding them of procedures.
Task cards are a fantastic addition to any primary classroom, especially because they make it so easy to differentiate instruction. You can select different skills based on what each individual student needs. Have your emerging readers work on letter tracing and identification, while your more advanced readers work on more specific sounds.
How to Use Task Cards in Your Primary Classroom
Task cards can be used many different ways. Here are a few examples from my classroom:
Use task cards In learning centers
Because students can self-correct using the answer side of the card, these are perfect to use in your learning centers.
Use task cards as flashcards for an easy entrance or transition activity
Hand a set of task cards to students as they arrive in the classroom for them to complete as an entrance activity. Or, bust out your task cards whenever you need a meaningful activity to fill up a transition time or on the rare occasion that you finish something early. They’re great for keeping kiddos engaged and learning when they might otherwise have down time.
Turn task cards into a game
You can motivate students with some friendly competition by using task cards in a game like Scoot, or Quiz, Quiz, Trade. In case you’re not familiar with these games, here’s a quick overview:
With Scoot, you place task cards in various spots around the room. I suggest numbering them so kids can easily match up the task card to their answer sheet. Each student, or pair of students, begins at one card and completes the task, recording their answer before I signal that it’s time to move. I’ll either blow a whistle, ring a bell, or play a tune to keep things exciting! At the signal, students move to the next card. Keep rotating until students arrive back at the card they started with. It’s a great way to get little ones up and moving in the classroom. Of course, it’ll take a couple tries to get everyone used to moving in a safe and organized fashion, but that goes without saying.
Quiz, Quiz, Trade is a fun game where students partner up, each with their own task card. Partner A asks the question and helps coach Partner B to the correct answer. Then, Partner B does the same. Once both partners have gotten the correct answer, they pat themselves on the back and find another pair to trade cards with. It’s a fun and motivating way to get students cooperating to practice skills.
How to Store Task Cards in Your Classroom
Task cards are great, but you definitely need an organized way to store them. When you know exactly where they are, you can quickly access them with little to no prep. Timesavers are so important for us teachers!
I store mine in Ziploc baggies, labeled with the subject and skill. Rainbow task boxes are also a great way to keep sets of task cards organized.
I highly recommend laminating your task cards to prolong their life. We all know how much damage little hands can do! Now that I have all of my task cards laminated, labeled, and stored, I can spend less time lesson planning and more time giving quality feedback and support to my students.
Pro tip: make sure to teach your kiddos how to put away the task cards in an organized manner–and then practice it several times! You can even make it a class job, with particular students assigned the job of making sure card sets are put away neatly.