How to Use Task Cards in the Classroom

back to school centers grammar math task cards time savers Jun 28, 2022

Task cards are a great way to quickly increase engagement in the classroom. There are a variety of ways that task cards can be used in the classroom and I can’t wait to share them with you. In this post, we are going to discuss how to use task cards, how to manage them, finding time to prepare them and where to find them. Let’s dive in!

Using Task Cards

Over the years I have used my task cards in so many ways. I love using them for SCOOT with the whole class, but I also enjoy using them in math and literacy centers, as a warm up, for independent enrichment, an engaging way to practice for state testing (read more about that in my post: 8 Ways of Using Task Cards for Test Prep) and for early finishers.

When I taught a self-contained K-3 class, I am working with small groups of students all throughout the day while the other students are working independently or with paraprofessionals on things like SEL or other subjects. I had the students work on task cards for 10 minutes at the beginning of each math block. The task cards that they work on are either review from the year or skills they may need extra practice with from the previous year. I assign them each a set of task cards so that I”m sure they are working on skills that they specifically need.

In math and literacy centers, I will put a set or two of task cards that are reinforcing the topic we are working on - whether it’s place value, decimals, grammar, etc. I either already have or I create a set of task cards for everything we do, and it is added into the rotation. It usually takes kids a few days during center time to complete the cards.

Task cards are amazing for enrichment and differentiation. When we were working on multi-digit multiplication, I created a differentiated set of task cards. Some kids just needed the multi-digit practice, but then some kids still needed more basic multiplication. I have also created sets above grade level so that students can work on those if they have already mastered the unit.

Managing Task Cards

I have had several people ask how I manage task cards in my classroom. It’s much easier than you may think and in my opinion so much easier than worksheets. And they’re so much more engaging for your students. I have all of my task cards in these boxes. However, you don’t have to do that, I previously stored them in Ziploc bags with a piece of painter's tape where I wrote the skill on it.

I laminate the whole sheet (there are typically 4 cards to a piece of paper), and as long as you are using a decent laminator, you can cut the cards out of the already laminated paper, simply cutting the 8.5 x 11 piece of paper into fourths instead of cutting the cards out first, then cutting them out of the laminating as well. If you’re looking for a laminator, I love this one. I also love the Amazon basics brand of laminating sheets.

I do make and provide answer keys and recording sheets for all of my task cards. I keep them organized in a binder or an old-fashioned filing cabinet. The binder is separated into sections by subject, and then I have a sheet protector that holds the master answer sheet on white paper, the answer key behind that, and then a set of student recording sheets on a colored piece of paper that students can take with them and use. The students take what they need and are ready to go. And with task cards having an answer key, students can do a lot of self-checking.

Finding Time for Prepping Task Cards

To start, cutting out task cards is the perfect project for a parent volunteer! At the beginning of the year, I always ask for volunteers who would like to contribute to the classroom but can’t come in during the day. Then I send home a stack of laminating for them to cut out among other things. I have found that parents really love this and feel like they are part of the classroom, even if they work during the day or have other non-school-aged children and can’t volunteer in the classroom.

I really want to emphasize that task cards are so easy to prepare for your classroom. It’s just print, laminate, and store. Then you have a resource you can use year after year. For a set of 24 task cards, the process takes me like 10 minutes at the most and that equates to literally HOURS of practice for your students.

Depending on how you are going to use the task cards, you really only need to make one or two sets of them at a time… your boxes don’t have to be filled up with them this year, but if you spend just a few minutes each unit getting task cards ready, by the end of the year, you will have them ready to go for the next year.

Where to Find Task Cards

You can find most of the task cards that I use at my TpT store here, and I’m creating new ones for most of the 3rd-5th grade Common Core Standards in both grammar and math. If you have a specific request for task cards, in most cases I am more than happy to make a set that meets math or grammar Common Core Standards.

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