Using Task Cards in Class Lessons With Pre-Readers

I love using task cards in class lessons. They are the bees knees in my counseling program: super versatile and lots of fun. What do I mean when I say “task cards”? They can be lots of different things! And can you use task cards in primary guidance lessons? Yes!

using task cards in guidance lessons

Task cards can be actual tasks for students to complete, such as demonstrating the appropriate tone of voice given a situation and statement, showing what they would say to be an upstander, or practicing a deep breathing strategy. They can also be discussion questions, like ones that relate to a specific read aloud. They can be “what would you do when…” for scenarios related to conflict, gossip, etc.

Task cards can be whatever you want them to be – at their core, they’re just a set of cards (usually enough for a whole class) with prompts on them all related to a specific skill or theme. I think they’re one of the most underused types of resources with school counselors. And I think a big reason behind this is that most people see them and assume that students need to be independent readers in order to use them, and so they don’t see them as useful with their littles. But what if you could absolutely use them with K and 1st just as easily as with the “big kids”? Let me tell you how!


  • Play some sort of music or just instruct the students to “mingle”, walking around the room (smiling and dancing ok but no talking).
  • Stop the music or call out “partner up”. Students pair with the closest person (model that this doesn’t mean the closest friend, just the closest person!).
  • Students stand back to back. You read the question, give them silent think time, then say “chat”. Consider projecting the question to help students process visually, too!
  • Students turn to face one another and take turns sharing their ideas.
  • Call on a few pairs to share out their responses.
  • Repeat! Students mix, partner on cue, listen to the scenario, then share their ideas with each.
  • This is a great activity to help students think about what they would do in different conflict situations and is a great option for using some of the discussion and scenario cards in this What if Everybody Said That? companion.

What is something you could say example card


  • Number the cards.
  • Everyone stands in a circle.
  • Place the cards randomly on the floor in front of each student.
  • Play music for a few seconds while students walk in a circle. When the music stops, students stop.
  • Call out a number.
  • Whichever student is standing at that numbered card picks it up and either reads it themselves or hands it to you to read.
  • Volunteers answer.
  • Repeat as time allows!
  • I used this when teaching students some resiliency skills – going BOUNCE instead of SPLAT when you have a problem.

how will you bounce or splat task card

Group Game (team answers Q then shoots basket)

  • Place students into small groups and write team names/numbers on the board.
  • Ask a student to pick a card.
  • Read the card aloud (like “what size of problem is this?”)
  • All students discuss their response with their teams.
  • Pick a random team to answer aloud.
  • If they answer correctly, choose a team member to shoot a basket.
  • Student shoots basket (ball or even crumpled paper into garbage can, empty box, etc.). If using multiple baskets, assign each a point value.
  • If they score, add points to their team’s total on the board.

How big is the problem ball and garbage can

Do you have any lessons in mind that you might want to use task cards for? How do you use task cards in class lessons?

2 Responses

    1. I don’t have any experience with this myself so I don’t have any great ideas. I think you could have students type their answers in the chatbox. You could ask a question and have everyone think about it then randomly select someone to answer. I’m sorry that’s all I’ve got!

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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
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