Make Math Fun By Using Task Cards and Word Problems

Task cards are great classroom devices to help in the teaching and practice of mathematical concepts. When presented with open-ended word problems, these task cards become an even greater source of rigor for our math students. Add in the celebration of holidays to make the cards a seasonal delight, and you have fun activities for math for every concept and every season.

An open green task card box, a coffee mug with markers, a blue pencil, and a stack of probability task cards are creatively arranged around the words Make Math Fun By Using Task Cards and Word Problems

Assembling Task Cards for Use

Three colorful task card boxes are stacked in a pyramid formation on top of each other, open, and with task cards inside them. In the back is a coffee mug with markers.

To use task cards in the classroom, print out the desired set of task cards on cardstock, cut them out, and laminate them for durability. To use with a class, put the task cards in a Ziploc bag or task card box and label them with the game’s name and when you might use them. You might say Halloween and/or Mean, Median, Mode, & Range. When you are ready to use them in class as practice, to play a game, for review, remediation, or even as an assessment, pull out the task cards and pass them out to students. Students will work through the task cards at their own pace, solving each problem as they go.

Various Strategies for Use

One way to use task cards is to have students solve one problem per day as part of their math review routine. This gives them practice in solving word problems and identifying key words that signal different operations. Students then identify the needed and unneeded information, develop a problem-solving method, problem solve, and then check their answers before moving from task cards to another math routine item, such as checking homework or taking notes.

On the left side of the page is a photograph from Spring Expressions Task Cards. It shows one of the answer pages, a task card, and a blue pencil. On the right side, ways to use task cards are listed out, including with partners, small groups, in centers, and as assessment and remediation.

Another fun way to use task cards is to put them in a center and have students work with a partner to solve the problems. This gives them practice working collaboratively and communicating their mathematical thinking. Task cards can also be used as part of whole-class instruction by pulling out a few at a time and solving them together as a class. Some task cards are offered as projectable versions just for this purpose. Be sure to model your thinking aloud as you work through each problem, stressing the importance of reading the problem carefully and using mathematical vocabulary when solving word problems.

Playing games with task cards is another great way to use them in the classroom. SCOOT is a popular task card game where students or cards scoot around the room from seat to seat every time a bell or buzzer goes off. Students can move, leaving task cards where they found them. Or the cards can be passed from desk to desk via a logical order whenever the timer dings. Another popular game is a Scavenger Hunt. In this case, task cards are hung around the room, and students must scavenge to find them or the next one to complete. I go more into depth into scavenger hunts in my math emails and even offer one for free.

Task Cards as Tools

This picture features a task card from Christmas and the concept of Elapsed Time. It shows one card, the answer page, a phone, a pencil, and an eraser. On the left side of the page, ways to differentiate with task cards are listed.

Task cards are versatile tools that can be used in many different ways in the math classroom. With a little creativity, you can use them to create fun activities that will help your students practice important mathematical concepts. They’re also perfect for differentiation because you can choose individual cards that meet the needs of all learners in your class. And task cards are easy to differentiate because there are so many ways to use them! Try out some of the activities and games mentioned here, and let us know how they went in the comments below!

Do you have a favorite task card game? Share it with us in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

If you’re looking for more ideas, be sure to check out our Task Card Pinterest Board. And, for more great math ideas, be sure to join our Sixth Grade Teacher Facebook Group. Happy teaching!

The Colorado Classroom signature "Brittany" with a globe.


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