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3 Unexpected Ways to Use Task Cards

Task cards remind me a lot of cards from the board game Trivial Pursuit. Each card has a task or question on it, and the task cards can be used in a variety of ways. Let’s be honest, if you have been teaching elementary school for a while, you are probably super familiar with task cards. Typically task cards are used in centers or for full group practice of skills, or even as the playing cards for some of your student’s favorite games, but today we’ve got some exciting news!

Are you looking for more opportunities to review skills and use all those task cards you’ve accumulated through different physical and digital learning games, task card sets, and U-Know games? Today we are putting on our creativity hats and introducing some BRAND NEW, (and I would even venture to say ‘unexpected’)ways to use task cards in your classroom this year!

These task card activities are intended to give students opportunities to move around, get interacting and talking with other students in the class, and working on that growth mindset by competing not just against others in the class, but against their own best scores and times.

Puzzle Creators Time Challenge

Step 1: To prepare for ‘Puzzle Creators Time Challenge,’ print off several pages of task cards from your favorite set. For best results, print the task cards onto cardstock, and hand them out to the class. Each set should have the same number of cards, but they don’t have to be on the same topic. The U-Know Cards work really well for this activity, but you can mix and match pages from different sets so that the puzzles have a variety of questions.

Step 2: The students will draw a picture on the opposite side of the task card sheet. Once they have completed their picture, they will cut each of the task cards out making a puzzle with 8-20 pieces depending on what set of cards you used. Note: If you want to mix and match cards from different activities, have students glue them onto the cardstock before drawing their pictures.

Step 3: When they are done drawing and the cards are cut out, the students will mix up their pieces and place the pieces into a baggy which is then turned into the teacher.

Step 4: Pair students up, ask each group to get out a pencil and one sheet of paper and hand out two puzzles to each pair. Prepare a timer on the whiteboard or screen where all students can see it.

Step 5: Each pair will choose one person to go first. When the timer starts, the first person will quickly put their puzzle together, when they complete it, the other partner will write down their time.

Step 6: The partner who was the timer then picks up the pieces of the puzzle one at a time. The person who put the puzzle together will answer the questions on the paper. If you are using U-Know cards, students can label each question to check the answers against the provided answer key. The same is possible for most other games available in the Fun in Fifth Grade store.

Step 7: For each correct answer, students will take a certain amount of time off their puzzle time (depending on how quickly they work, this could be seconds or tenths of seconds, etc.).

Step 8: Repeat the same process for the other partner. Then ask each student to record his/her time (score) somewhere in the room. The next day, do the same activity but give each pair a different set of puzzles. Students will again go through the process, and attempt to improve their score each day as they begin repeating some of the same questions.

Suggestions:

  1. Make the puzzles easier by having all students use the same set of task cards. The first time students answer the question, they will be pretty slow, but they will get faster throughout the week as they practice the same tasks over and over.
  2. If using the U-Know task cards, print the sets at 50% so more cards will fit in each puzzle, but if you mix and match sets, make sure each task card is clearly labeled.
  3. Have each student create an ‘answer key’ for their puzzle before putting it in the baggy, so the students who complete the puzzle will have the answers easily accessible (this will mean more time up-front, but less time during the activity).
  4. For each set of task cards use a different color of cardstock, so you can identify quickly which set each student has.
  5. Ask students to create a puzzle that visually represents one of the questions on their task cards. Examples could include visual representations of math equations, an example of a figurative language element, or an image that represents one of the text structures.

‘Trick-or-Treat’ Task Cards

This activity is a spin on the classic ‘speed dating’ concept and ‘Trick-or-Treating.’

Step #1: Prepare task cards so the question is on one side and the answers are on the back. You will want about 150-200 of them (but the same cards can be used every time you play the game). Feel free to use several duplicates or pull task cards from several different games and activities. 

Divide the class in half. Give half the class a set of 10 or more task cards.  The group holding the cards will be the ‘Neighbors’ and the students without cards will be the Trick-or-Treaters.’

Step #2: Give each Trick-or-Treater 10 treats. The treats could be coins, tokens, actual treats, etc.

Step #3: Arrange the two groups so the Neighbors are lining the outside of the room, and the Trick-or-Treaters will move to stand in front of one of the neighbors. They will then either do the trick or give a treat.

Step #4: The ‘Trick’ is the answering the question on the task card. If the student can answer it, they get to keep all their treats, if they can’t, they will give their Neighbor one of their treats. The goal is for the Trick-or-Treater to end the game with as many treats as possible.

Step #5: The next day, use the same cards but have the Neighbors and Trick-or-Treater’s switch roles.

Step #6: As we are always working on growth, turn this activity into a competition against themselves. At the end of each round, have students record how many treats they have left. Each time you play, students will aim to increase their scores.

Options:

  1. Give students a chance to steal treats from the Neighbors by allowing them to keep answering questions collecting treats from the neighbor for every correct answer. (Neighbors could start with treats, or the Trick-or-Treaters can steal the treats left by earlier Trick-or-Treaters.
  2. Rather than the Trick-or-Treaters starting with treats, have the Neighbors start with the treats and hand them out for every correct answer.
  3. Let the Neighbors choose to ask the task cards they think will trip up the Trick-or-Treaters. This allows everyone to focus on the questions that seem to be the most challenging.
  4. Give each Neighbor a dice, the Trick-or-Treater will roll the dice, and if they can’t do the trick, they give up that many treats.

Hopscotch Challenge

A great activity for a sunny day.

Step #1: Print off (and maybe consider laminating) a bunch of task cards. Find out how I take care of my cards in this post about making classroom games last longer.

Step #2: Set up a series of hopscotch courses on the sidewalks outside or use tape to set them up inside the classroom. On each number, place a task card, question up (answer down).

Step #3: Divide students into groups of 3 or 4, and assign them to a hopscotch course.

Step #4: One at time, students will toss rocks onto a spot that has a task card. They will then hop their way to the end and back using the (one foot, two feet, one foot, two feet pattern, but they can’t step on any spots that don’t have task cards or the ones that their rock landed on. On their way back, the student will stop at the task card their rock landed on, pick up the card, and answer the question. If they answer the question correctly, they keep the card, and make their way back to the beginning. Note: It is important that they say their answer out loud, but when they check their answer on the back of the card, they should not say the answer out loud unless they were right. If they are wrong, the card will be placed back on the spot and the student will finish their turn. They can try to answer it correctly on their next turn, but they don’t want to give away the answer to the other competitors. The student who collects the most cards by the end of the game wins. 

Options:

  1. Don’t allow students to hop on the spaces without task cards. Instead, they will work as a team to figure out the best way to throw their rocks so as not to cause problems with being able to reach the task cards. This will turn this individual game into a collaborative problem-solving event.
  2. Place four task cards on each space. Students get to pick which one they pick up when they land on one. This allows groups to play longer.
  3. Again, place multiple task cards on the spaces, but the other participants get to pick which card the person answers. This allows them to challenge each other to harder questions.

Where do you get task cards?

Task card activities such as the ones in this post allow you to use the cards and tasks from many of your favorite digital (and physical) activities in more than just one way. 

Here at Fun in Fifth Grade, we specialize in creating games with cards for classroom review and activities. Take a look at some of these resources for inspiration!

Math Vocabulary QR Code Task Cards

Shape and Number Patterns Game Show (To use Game Show question with these activities, simply print multiple slides per page to make them ‘card’ size.)

Sweet Success on that Big ‘ol Test Centers Kit

Do you have some new ways you are using task cards in your room this year (maybe some digital ones) share them in the comments below!

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