How to Use Task Cards With Board Games

        Task cards are one of my favorite things in the classroom! I love how they provide concentrated practice for my students, how they can be used for any subject, but most of all, I like how engaging they can be. Students often view them as simply fun, although they are definitely an effective learning tool.

        Another great thing about task cards is how versatile they are. They can be used in so many ways! In fact, I wrote another blog post with 16 Ways to Use Task Cards, if you'd like a few more ideas! Using task cards with board games is one activity that makes task cards even more fun!

        So, how exactly do you add task cards to a board game? 

1. Gather Some Board Games
        If you're a mom or a dad, you may have lots of board games at home that your children have outgrown, or that you can borrow. You may also find them at garage sales or of course you can purchase them at a number of stores. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to find a good variety is to send a note home to your students' parents. Lots of times, they too will have games they no longer use and will donate them to your classroom. 

        You'll want to make sure that the games are simple enough to either teach your students how to play (checkers?) or that the games are ones they may already know. There are oodles of games which work well. 

Some of the games I would recommend include:
Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Hi-ho Cherry O, Trouble, Jenga, Connect Four, Guess Who, Pick-Up Sticks, Sorry...

By the may think that your students are too old for such "babyish" games, but surprisingly, most older elementary students tend to see them as nostalgic and will enjoy them again!

2. Make a Game Plan

        Next, you'll want to figure out exactly how you want your students to use the task cards. Here are a few options:

A. Centers (Stations): If you have a small class with 4 - 5 kids per center, one game would usually work well (except Connect Four or Guess Who, which are better played with 2 kids). Larger groups could have two games. This center would last then for at least two weeks, as the kids could rotate the task cards sets and games which are played.

B. Remediation: Task cards are a great way to provide students extra help. If you are lucky enough to either have an aide or a parent volunteer, you can set out the task card set and the board game with a list of students who need more practice.

C. Whole Class: Whether you have Game Day Friday or want students to have a bit of fun test prep, task cards with board games work beautifully. I set the task cards and games in a specific order around the room and assign students to a specific game for the first day. This does take a bit of planning but once it is written down, it's easy to manage. Students play that game for a certain amount of time (depending upon your students' attention span). Then, the next day (or week) we keep the same groups but rotate the order of the games and everyone gets a new game to play. 

3. Set Expectations and Teach Procedures
        Just like everything we do in the classroom, students need to know what our expectations are and what they need to do. If we don't teach these things specifically, they are likely to make up their own rules. So, before I do something new in the classroom, I try to think about every. single. possible. thing. which may need to be addressed BEFORE it happens. Thinking things through carefully, helps me to know what to teach my students. Every class is different and teachers have different likes and dislikes, so your list may look different than mine, which is fine.

Here are a few things to consider:
  • How to Work Cooperatively with Classmates?
  • Which Noise Level is Appropriate?
  • What to Do if There is a Disagreement?
  • How to Be a Good Sport?
  • How to Treat the Materials Respectfully?
  • What to Do When The Group is Finished (what if they're done early?)?
  • How to Clean Up the Materials When Time is Up?
        One of the things I like to do the first time is to model playing a game with a small group in front of the class. That way, they are able to see what a group looks like visually, before they try it themselves. 

4. Using Task Cards With the Board Game
        Besides expectations and procedures, kids will need to know how to combine the task cards with the board game. I tell my students that they will be playing the game exactly as they usually would, except they have an added step. Before being able to make a move (rolling the dice, drawing a card, spinning a spinner, pulling a stick...) the first player will read a task card out loud (which is great fluency practice) and then will need to answer the card. If the answer is correct, the player takes a move, but if he/she is incorrect, the player waits until the next turn. To solve disputes, some cards are self-checking, an answer key could be provided (to be looked at only when there is a dispute if this would work for your class), or a parent volunteer, student helper, or you could resolve the issue. After the first player's turn is over, play continues the same way with the next person.

        The game boards are set up as usual, except that the task cards are shuffled and placed in a pile face down. Once a student answers a card, the cards are placed face-up in a discard pile.

        Finally, you'll need to decide if you want students to record answers or not. If you feel that students can be trusted to participate as they should, perhaps no record keeping is needed and the process and learning taking place is what's important. If you'd like students to record answers, you may do it in a few ways. Each person could have a record sheet and record all of the answers or each person could record his/her own answers only. The alternative would be to have one record sheet for the entire group and it is passed around for each student to record his/her answer after taking a turn.

        That's it! Super simple way to make task cards even more fun!

👉 If you're looking for some new task cards, click here👈

Here are a few of my task card favorites. They are sold separately or as part of a complete unit:

Here are 2 more blog posts about games that you might enjoy:    

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