Spark Attention by Changing the Way You Use Task Cards

Liven up task cards in your classroom

Task cards are a really great way to get students practicing different skills in every subject area.

There are a number of reasons that we SHOULD be using math task cards, but sometimes the same repetitive activities might get dull.

Read on for ideas on how to liven up task cards in your elementary classroom.

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade


A quick and more traditional way to use task cards is to set up a “scoot” in your classroom. Put one task card on every desk in your classroom.

Have students start in their seat, then move from seat to seat until they have completed every task card.

Use a timer to make sure students have enough time and know when to move on to the next card.

This is great for fluency type task cards, but can be difficult for learners who might need some extra time and feel rushed.

Make sure you are gauging how much time is needed and are adjusting appropriately. Also be sure students know to record their answers in the right spot, and start with the right card (not every student will have #1 at their desk – this is important to point out!)

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade

Scavenger Hunt

Hide task cards around the classroom and allow students to find them and solve. This can be done individually, in partners or in small groups.

Even if you put the cards on student desks, I prefer this method to scoot as it allows students to be self paced.

Be sure to tell your class to record their answers in the right spot. I also set limits for how many students are allowed to be at one card solving a problem, and set a volume limit depending on how we are completing the activity.

Typically, I like this method best because it allows for easy differentiation, it gets students moving and I can walk around and assist.

This can be done during whole group or as a center that students work on while you work with a small group.

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade

Blind Bag

Blind bag is when you take a bunch of problems and toss them in a bag. Students pull problems out of a bag until they are done solving them.

This can be done individually or in a group, and problems can be put back in the bag or kept out until the set number of problems is complete.

It is important to note that you might not want every group to complete every problem every time and that is okay. It depends on what you are looking for from the task card activity that day.

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade

Divide & Conquer – Group Work

Similar to blind bag, divide and conquer is a great way to get students to complete task cards in a small amount of time.

Students can work as a group to complete their task cards and report the answers back to their team.

This is a great way to promote collaboration and to encourage students to check not only their own work but the work of others as well.

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade

Warm Up

If you are looking for a quick warm up, you can project task cards onto the whiteboard or have a few at each table for students to solve each day.

This is a really easy way to change things up with very minimal prep.

Exit Ticket

If you need a quick exit ticket, consider having one or two task cards be a student’s “ticket out the door” each day.

You can have students solve the problem on post its, note cards, white boards, in a math journal or digitally to assess their work.

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade

Bathroom or Hallway Practice

Do you take whole group bathroom breaks? Or, do you ever arrive to specials or lunch TOO early? Consider grabbing a set of task cards on your way out the door.

While students are lined up and waiting, show them a task card. Let them give you a quiet thumbs up when they think they know the answer. When the majority of the class has their thumb up, either have them say the answer aloud as a whole, or let a student raise their hand and share.

Note that this works best for task cards with multiple choice questions or ones that have simple solutions. This would not be best for a skill students just learned, or a math problem that would involve multiple steps or writing down work.

Easter Egg Hunt

This strategy is exactly what it sounds like.. fold task cards up, stick them in eggs and hide them around the room. Consider numbering them on the outside so students remember which ones they have already solved before opening the egg. Also be sure to teach students to load the egg back up when they’re done so that it is ready for the next student.

Easter egg hunts are fun ALL year long. You can also find other festive ways to change this up for different seasons. You can use orange Easter eggs in October, or find gift card boxes to hide cards in during December. Get creative to keep the fun going!

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade


Another way to use task cards is to simply have them as a center. Students can grab a set that is on a ring and work their way through the deck.

Students can record on a whiteboard or on a recording sheet that they turn in.

You might have many different decks for them to solve throughout the week or month, that way you are only having to make one set for the whole class to use.

I always let students pick their set to allow them to have some choice during their math block.

math task cards | ideas for use in 2nd grade

Small Group

Finally, task cards make a great small group activity. I love using them in small group because it allows students to work on different problems from the same skill without being able to glance over at their neighbors’ work for the answers.

Typically, I would have students solve these with a whiteboard marker. When they finish, they give me a thumbs up, I check their work then give them a new problem.

It also works if they finish an activity or worksheet early and then I can give them an enrichment or review problem to work on while I help the rest of the group get caught up.

Final Thoughts

Task cards are a really great tool for the classroom. Keep task cards from getting mundane by trying a variety of ways to liven up task cards in your elementary classroom.

If you are searching for ways to embed math task cards into centers, check out my post on setting up your math block here.

You can grab the task cards in the photos here:

What is your favorite way to use task cards? Drop it in the comments below!

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

Emily - The Mountain Teacher

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