Powered by Blogger.

How to Use Task Cards in Your Primary Classroom

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.

What creative ways of using task cards can you think of?

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.

For more tips, tricks, and resources, visit me on Instagram! Happy teaching :)

your photo name

Digital Activities for Seamless Classroom Transitions

Classroom teachers need to have a few quick learning activities in their toolkit! Activities that take only a few minutes can help out with classroom management, and keep those little minds engaged and growing.

Especially for our younger elementary-aged students, transition time can be tricky. I’ll help you use it wisely to keep your kids engaged all day long, filling every moment of learning time during our increasingly busy days. I have some great ideas and resources to share that you can try out and build into your routines to help reduce downtime anxiety for teachers and students.

When should you use transition activities?

Any time you have a few minutes before your students are ready to move on to the next part of their day, you should have something easy on hand to keep them engaged and ready to smoothly transition into the next activity.

Use these transition activities when:

  • You’re waiting for the "specials" teacher to show up.
  • You’re waiting for the lunch bell to ring.
  • Kids are lined up for buses.
  • You have breaks in your day but you don’t have time to dive into curriculum.
  • You need to manage movement and engagement for your actively learning students.
  • Your days don’t go as planned. Use these activities to keep kids on track while you work through unexpected downtime or technical difficulties.
  • You have a substitute teacher and want to give them a leg up on transitions.

Why do I need transition activities?

As simple as they are, these transition activities can be super useful. They make even a new teacher look like a confident veteran. Not only will they help ease your anxiety by giving you solutions for seamless transitions, but they really help our kids stay engaged and learning in many ways.

Transition activities help:

  • Keep kids engaged and well behaved even when we have just a couple of "waiting" minutes.
  • Impress other teachers/staff with how behaved your class is during those transition times—perfect for those pop-in admin visits!
  • Reduce anxiety for kids who struggle with waiting in line, waiting for the next teacher, etc. when expectations aren't clear.
  • Clear minds and build focus with ideas and concepts that require a little practice.
  • Build in more kinesthetic, visual, oral learning activities into your day so everybody has access to their best learning styles throughout the day.
  • Get controlled movement and talking time for little bodies full of energy.

What transition activities should I be looking for? And where can I get them?

Flash Games

I have several super easy and engaging digital slide activities in my TPT shop for primary classes. While you can have students play these anytime independently in class or during distance learning, you can also adjust them easily and play for a few minutes with the whole group.

Kids simply watch the smart board and answer questions together. Each slide has a 20-second timer bar at the bottom to help students manage their time when answering each question. It also helps them monitor when the next question is about to show up.

Here are links to my Flash Math and Phonics resources. I also offer a flash math freebie if you want to test drive before you buy!

Interactive Games

If you want to get all your students involved and actively engaged, interactive games are for you! They are perfect to use as a review game during a transition period. Try them on your interactive whiteboard and pair it with a student response system like Plickers to get every child involved during your whole class lesson!

The Interactive Phonics and Math Bundles will give you access to all the activities you need to take your students through the curriculum in small bites. They are also available as individual sets if you want to pick and choose the standards to cover.

Looking to sample first? Here’s a peek at the phonics activities if you are interested in learning more and testing them out with your K-2nd graders.

Digital Flashcards

Another great resource for your interactive whiteboards are digital flashcards. I have phonics flashcards that are great for kindergarten and 1st grade. The flashcards are in a PDF file so you can use any device that has a pdf reader available. 

Chit Chat

NEW Resource Alert! This is a great freebie for you to start engaging with thoughtful and fun conversations in the classroom with 5 chit chat prompts. Get your students talking and thinking critically while building classroom rapport. Use these as a jumping-off point to have kids ask their own questions and help establish norms within the class.

All resources included here are digital because a lot of us are still navigating distance learning and increasing digital fluency with our students. Feel free to use these however they work best in your classroom, and leave a review or check back with me on social media to share how you use them for your students!

your photo name

Exit Tickets: An Easy Way To Check For Understanding!

Are you a fan of using exit tickets with your students? They are one of my favorite tools in my teaching repertoire! Chances are, you do something resembling an exit ticket each day in your classroom, but you may call it something else. Exit slips, entrance tickets, closure activities. No matter what you call it, the goal is the same: to check in with your little learners and discover how well they’re understanding a concept.

What are exit tickets?

Back in your teacher training classes, you most certainly learned about the difference between formative and summative assessments. Before your eyes glaze over thinking back to those old lectures, let’s define our terms.

“Formative assessment” is really just a fancy term for those small check-ins teachers do each and every day. They help us figure out what kids are learning during a lesson. “Summative,” on the other hand, refers to those assessments that sum up what kids learned at the end of a unit.

Exit tickets are one kind of formative assessment. A common way to do this is to have students answer a question or two on a small slip of paper. You then sort their answers (or have the kids sort them!) based on level of understanding. I like using three piles: Got it! Getting it. Not there yet.

You don’t have to use paper though! There are some great digital options. For example, students could complete a Google Form or you could use a tool like Padlet, Quizlet, or Kahoot!

Why should you use math exit tickets?

Informal assessment is the name of the game with exit tickets! They are an easy, low stakes way to get a sense of what students know and don’t know on a certain topic. By low stakes, I mean that students feel less pressure than they might with a more formal quiz or test.

Exit tickets also give students a great chance to practice self-reflection. We want to train our little scholars to have a growth mindset approach to learning. It’s okay to need improvement, and it’s important that they be able to assess their own progress on certain skills. It’s so powerful when a child can reflect and recognize I’m not quite there yet because it gives them a sense of ownership over their own learning.

There are huge advantages for us teachers as well! Exit tickets, when used wisely, tell us how to teach better. Do we need more time, or less, on a concept? If the majority of my class is in the Didn’t get it! category, that tells me we need to spend more time on that lesson. Conversely, if everyone demonstrates understanding, we can move on more quickly!

When should you use exit tickets?

Traditionally, teachers use exit tickets as a pass to get out the door and onto the next part of the school day. There are lots of other ways to use them, though!

You can flip the timeline entirely and use them as entrance slips! This is a great way to get students thinking about the objective before you start.

Use exit slips to break up the day. After a long stretch of work, an exit slip can signal the end of a lesson. It’s kind of like hitting the pause button before moving on to the next thing!

Use them at the beginning of a new unit to activate students’ prior knowledge and help you plan your teaching.

Spontaneously! Maybe you notice that the kids are getting restless, or you’re not sure if they are really understanding the concepts. Have them pull out a sheet of paper and answer a couple of questions! Spontaneous check-ins help me know when I need to adjust my teaching strategies on the fly.

How I use math exit tickets

I like to use math exit slips that have a couple of components. First, there’s of course a math problem or two for students to complete. Beyond that, I like to have a space for kids to assess themselves. This might be a simple ranking scale (1 = not there yet, 5 = I’m a pro!) or space for them to journal, ask a question, or write a comment.

Ready to give math exit slips a try? Check out these ready-made options by clicking HERE!

your photo name

Freebie Alert! Thanksgiving Writing Activity for Primary Grades

With the holiday season on its way, and with the wild year that has been 2020 coming to a close, there is no better time than now to practice gratitude. I know we have moved mountains this year by adapting our curriculum and teaching during a pandemic. Many of us feel like we’re in survival mode as we wrap up the first half of the school year. That's why, as we approach the holidays and some much deserved school breaks, I love doing activities that focus on what is going well and what we are thankful for in our lives.

Mindset is a super important part of building resilience. Gratitude and thankfulness isn’t explicitly addressed in most curriculum standards. BUT it’s such an important element to help little ones, and big people too, develop ways to cope with things that feel out of our control. It’s never too early or too late to start practicing gratitude.

Just in time for November, I have a fun Thanksgiving Freebie for you to use with your students. It will not only help kids think critically about what they are thankful for and WHY, but it gives them a chance to write and apply grade level skills. All while accessing that gratitude mindset that we all need right now.

Let’s break it down: How can primary grades use this fun Thanksgiving freebie?

I’ll share how I used this resource with my primary students so you can picture how it might work for you.

Step 1: Collect ideas

Together, we brainstormed things, people, and places that we are thankful for. I encouraged the kids to really think about WHY they are thankful for that thing. It isn't very meaningful to say "I'm thankful for my playstation" or "I'm thankful for my mom.”

I pressed them to really focus on the “because” behind those statements. When they started to complete their thoughts with “because,” I could see the light bulbs go off for them! They started digging deep into their gratitude, which was awesome!

A student shared: "I’m thankful for my mom because she takes care of me and plans fun things and cooks yummy food."

Step 2: Time to draft

This writing template has six spaces, so I broke it down like this:
  1. Who is a person that you are thankful for?
  2. Where is one place you are thankful for?
  3. What is one thing you are thankful for?
  4. Name an event in your life you are thankful for.
  5. Share something about yourself that you are thankful for (either your physical appearance or a quality).
  6. Your choice! Most wanted to choose a second person they were thankful for.
For each section, they had to write the REASON they are thankful for that thing. Example: for the person category, instead of writing "I am thankful for my dad," they had to write "My dad plays with me at the park.”

Step 3: Edit and revise

In an ideal situation, you would allow time for a round of peer or self-editing and a revision. Don’t worry! If you’re strapped for time, as we all often are, you don’t have to complete the entire writing process. Do what works for you. This freebie is flexible!

Step 4: Turkey Time

Have your students write their final drafts on the PDF and decorate their turkeys. They may not be able to color them in if you’re virtual, but depending on your district’s digital resources, there are lots of ways you could address this. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Step 5: Display student writing

When other people see this on your walls, it might encourage them to take stock of what makes them feel thankful this year.

If you’re teaching virtually and don’t have physical walls to display it on, you still have great options. Consider posting them on a digital newsletter, email, teacher websites, class social media pages, blogs, etc. I know you guys come up with so many innovative ideas. Please share with me what works for you on instagram!

Are you a teacher looking for some other great Thanksgiving ideas? Consider an I Am Thankful Class Book that can work in preschool and primary grades. I also offer a Thanksgiving Craftivity in my TPT Store for grades K-2, and fun Thanksgiving Activities for centers, games, and literacy time in 1st and 2nd grade.

your photo name
Back to Top