How to Use Task Cards – 8 Fun Ideas for Upper Elementary


If you have taught upper elementary sometime over these past 5 years, chances are you have come across somebody that uses task cards for fun review or extra practice. Or you might use them yourself. You've also probably come across somebody that hates task cards.

Although some people complain that task cards are glorified worksheets (and they could be right, depending on how you use them), task cards are very useful because they are so versatile. Below are several ideas for using task cards with your 3rd grade, 4th grade, or 5th grade students.

Task cards are good to always have on hand, because there are so many different ways to use them!  They are similar to these reusable activities in that way.

Fun Ways to Use Task Cards with 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Students

1. Scavenger Hunt

This was my favorite way to use task cards in the classroom, even though it is not technically a true scavenger hunt.

Spread the task cards around the room (or have a few students do this for you). Then, have students walk around the room with their answer sheet looking for the different task cards.

This is a great opportunity to have students work with partners.  Have one student read the task card aloud, while the other student writes the answer.  For the next task card, students switch roles.

Setting up clear expectations will, as always, help you avoid many behavior problems.  Make sure 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students are aware of:

  • how you expect them to move around the classroom
  • who and how they should talk to other peers
  • how many group can be at one task card at a time
  • what to do when they finish

If you like activities that give your students a chance to get up and moving while still working, then consider having a snowball fight in your classroom.  

2. I Do, We Do, You Do

Most task cards are GREAT for the gradual release of responsibility model.

For “I Do,” use several task cards to model to students a certain strategy. Explain your thinking using think-alouds.

Then, for “We Do,” complete a few task cards with the help of your students. You can also have small groups or partners work together on a few task cards.

Finally, have students independently complete a task card for the “I Do.”

3. Have Students Work with a Volunteer or Para

If you are anything like me, then you struggle with how best to use any help you receive from paraprofessionals or parent volunteers. The help I received came so inconsistently that it was difficult to set up routines.

If you have several sets of task cards on hands for different skills, then you will always have something useful for an extra set of hands to do.

Use task cards for review, as an early finisher activity, for the I do, we do, you do model, and more

4. Have Early Finishers Complete Task Cards

Keep your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students that always finish early engaged and learning by having them complete task cards when they finish their work.

Use these tips from Teaching with Task Cards to help you set up and manage this.

5. Use Task Cards as a Low Prep Center

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Throw some task cards in a center rotation for students to complete independently or with their group.
Making Inferences Task Cards for Upper Elementary

6. Use Task Cards to Play the Whole Class Game SCOOT

SCOOT is a fun, more structured way to use task cards whole class.

Give each upper elementary student a task card to answer at his or her own desk. Then, on your signal, have the students leave the card at their desk while they move to the desk next to them. Have students continue until all the cards have been answered.

This "game" is best played with task cards that can be answered relatively quickly by all your students. Task cards that involve a lot of writing might cause problems, as some students will need a lot more time, and the rest of the class would have to wait on them.

7. As a Daily Morning Work Activity

For an easy - to - prepare morning work activity, simply display a few task cards and have students answer it as they come in. If you use something like this Reading Skills Task Card Bundle, you will have enough task cards that you won't have to think about morning work all year long!

You might like some of these other morning work ideas. 

8. Use as a Quick Assessment or Exit Slip

After a lesson, give students a corresponding task card for a quick check. This makes a great exit slip alternative!

Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!


Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!

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