Differentiated Task Boxes
Differentiated Task Boxes are perfect for morning work, early finishers, centers, and reading or math groups. I’m sharing how my kindergarten students master the standards in their own individualized tasks perfect for their unique learning styles.
Frustrated with morning work? Wishing for a better routine that does not involve multiple trips to the copier? Tired of wasting paper?
Sounds familiar, right? I was right there with you until I started using these differentiated task boxes every morning with my students!
Organize Your Differentiated Task Boxes
How gorgeous are these beautiful organizational boxes from Michaels? If you keep an eye out for sales and use your teacher discount, you can purchase them for between $10 and $12. I grabbed four or five the last time I saw them at that price and then I waited… what to do… what to do….
Mini-Eraser Task Boxes
I absolutely love using these task boxes to store my seasonal mini-erasers and task cards. Kids can easily grab a set of task cards and choose what set of erasers they want to use to complete the task.
These Christmas task cards are always a big hit with my students. There is something so special about having a choice and selecting your favorite mini-erasers. Look for more task card sets and a blog post to come soon!
Goodbye Morning Work – Hello Differentiated Task Boxes!
Now back to the differentiated task box idea!
One of my colleague has a very smooth morning routine. I am constantly impressed when I enter and see all of the students busy with purposeful tasks. The key here is that the tasks are engaging and purposeful!
One thing she has her students do each morning is line numbers up in the correct order. She made little cards by writing the numbers on each one for each child. My student teacher and I set out to imitate her idea and make it work for our classroom.
My student teacher cut out index cards and carefully made a box for each student. While we loved the idea, we quickly had students losing cards, accidentally mixing up cards with other students, and so on.
It started to get frustrating. I realized it was time to get creative to fix our problem.
Differentiated Task Boxes are Born!
I really started to think about all of the tasks that students could do independently in the morning or any time of day, really. I stayed up late night after night to make sure I included a huge selection of choices to fill your differentiated task boxes and reach the standards.
Editable Labels for Your Differentiated Task Boxes
Because we implement full flexible seating, we do not have name tags on a table. My students needed a place to check the number line, ABC order, color words, etc. To help, I created an editable label for the boxes. Now teachers have the choice if they would like to use a simple label like the one shown above or one with various references for young children, like the one you see below.
I Can Statements
As a former evaluator, I know how important it is to include I Can statements with my lessons. I made editable I Can cards along with lots of options so that teachers can easily include an appropriate I Can statement in each task box. This is helpful for the student to understand the task and for any adult who is helping to know what the learning objective is.
Options for Differentiated Task Boxes
You will find so many ways to create individualized boxes for your students. Gosh, I just love the idea of every single student working on a task that is created specifically for them. Can you imagine when your administration comes in and sees each student working on differentiated tasks? Pure magic!
I wanted you to have everything you needed to stay organized. You can use a photo box to store the cards or you may want to sort them into bags. I recommend placing the sorting card in front and the corresponding I Can statement cards behind them. Then I add the cards students will need to complete those tasks. Sometimes I print these on white cardstock or on colored paper and laminate them.
At the beginning of the year, all of my students can use practice lining the letters of their names up in order. As the year goes on, I can also ask them to spell their last names. This is such an important skill. Even if students can already spell their names, it is helpful to look at the letters to practice letter formation and recognition.
Consider asking students to point to each letter and say it for you before they clean up or even trace each letter with a finger while they spell their names aloud to you!
Students will also work on placing numbers in the correct order. For some, this might just be numbers one through five. Other students might work on numbers one through ten or one through twenty, or even one through one hundred!
My advanced students will soon work on counting on. For example, you can give them numbers 6,7,8, and 9 along with 19, 20, 21, and 22, along with 40, 41, 42, and 43, etc. I think you get the point. Students will have to “count up” three numbers from each beginning number. You can challenge students by making all of the cards in their box the same color or provide some support by making each group a different color. In the above example, the numbers 14-17 could be printed on pink paper, 21-24 could be printed on green paper, etc. This gives students an easy way to sort the cards first.
Counting by 10’s
Students can work on counting by tens by lining up the numbers in the correct order as shown here.
Counting by 5’s
Just like counting by 10’s, students can also be challenged to place the numbers in the correct order when counting by 5’s. Remember that whatever skill they are working on, it is important that you or someone else checks the work before they clean up. I like to walk around asking the students to point to each number as they say them aloud. I can offer support as needed this way.
I also love to have my students pair or sort the numbers. You could simply put the ten frame and dice together or give students multiple options for each depending on their ability. Remember that you don’t always have to include every card. Scaffold the tasks according to student understanding.
You can also see how students would be working on reading and understanding number words. Remember that the I can’s are editable so teachers are able to create their own statements as needed.
One skill that we have to spend some time in kindergarten working on is the ability to sort and understand flat and solid shapes. I’ve included these with two different headings so you can find the one that works for you (flat vs. solid or 2D vs. 3D.)
For extra ELA practice, students can work on lining the letters up in alphabetical order.
Pairing Uppercase and Lowercase Letters
Another activity option is to ask students to pair upper and lowercase letters. You could print these on two different colors for students who need extra support differentiating between the two types of letter formation.
As I said before, my students raise their hands when they are finished with their task and I walk around the room to do a quick assessment of their understanding. I may ask students to trace the letters with their fingers or say each letter or letter sound as they point to the cards for me.
Students will also have a blast spelling CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. I just love incorporating these words whenever I can because it is the first time I get to see that little light bulb go off when students realizing they are ACTUALLY READING!
There are two options included so you can choose what works best for each student. Many students will need the word on the bottom of the card while others can figure it out and spell the word using just the picture.
CVCC and CCVC Words
The next step after students master CVC words is to start working on blends with CCVC and CVCC words. If you are unfamiliar with those abbreviations, “rink” as shown above would be a CVCC word because it is spelled in the consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant pattern.
Chop is spelled in a consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant or CCVC pattern. Look at these two different examples. In the first one, the student has the word support while the other task simply has a picture.
Man, rhyming words can be so difficult for young students! ESL students can really struggle. When you are learning a new language, the emphasis is often placed on the beginning of the word. It can be very hard for them to hear the ending sounds necessary to pair rhyming words.
There are lots of cards included to help your students work on rhyming.
Think about your students and how much they can handle before filling their boxes with fifty cards. For instance, my daughter, Aniston, may have to put her name cards in order, pair five sets of rhyming cards, and sort shapes. You may have another student who is spelling CCVC words while yet another is still working on pairing letters. These differentiated task boxes are designed to accommodate each student’s learning needs!
You will find three and four letter rhyming words to choose from with or without the word written on the bottom of the card!
I feel like opposites get pushed to the back burner! They don’t take too long to teach but we often forget to really work on them. Again, you will find them with or without the word support on the bottom of each card. It is vital that you ask students to go over their pairings with you.
Differentiated Task Boxes work well if students are assessed on their understanding. I can’t trust that every student does this correctly. It is imperative that you spend time walking around offering support to students as needed. As an idea, in the example below, I may have to explain that the turtle is slow while the tiger is fast.
Can you tell that I had a lot of fun making these yet? I spent so long making sure you would have tons of choices for each student!
We use these cards to sort the syllables in each word. This is a favorite option for my students!
Cn you see how these will simplify your life? I love that they make each morning so much smoother in my classroom but can really be used any time of the day!
Pin this image so you can come back to the explanation of differentiated task boxes as needed! You can click any of the above photos to find this resource in my TPT store.
Looking for more fun ideas for children? Have you tried this Edible 2 Ingredient play dough yet?
Happy Teaching & Mommy-ing this week friends!
Faith Sanchez says
Hi! I absolutely love this idea and am hoping to implement it this coming year! However, I do have some questions on how you implemented this and explain each new task to them all. Also, what did your students do after completing?
Hi Faith, I’m so happy this will be useful. Most kids can kind of tell what to do but I walk around making sure they understand their individual tasks. My students would do the task again if it didn’t take long or they were allowed to get out their journals after I checked their progress. Hope this helps!
Deondra McGuire says
Do you possibly prepare the task boxes for purchase? I would be interested.
I’m sorry but I’m unable to do that at this time.
Gina Kelly says
Do you have any task cards with pictures to describe adjectives. My students had so much fun making the subject, predicate and extendor …but some were ready for a an adjective. I see you have some opposite cards but do you have other adjective stuff that would go with the subject/predicate/extender bundle for kinder/1st writing?
I don’t have any of those as of right now but I’ll add it to my “to do” list. Thank you for stopping by the blog!