Welcome!

I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Set Your Homeschool Day on Autopilot with Task Cards


Many years ago, I came across some information about Sue Patrick's Workboxes, an organizational system designed to aide her autistic son in developing independent study skills.

In the simplest of terms, workboxes are made from a drawer organizer cart. Each school day, you fill the drawers with school assignments or fun activities and instruct your child to work their way down the cart, doing the task in the first drawer before moving on to the next one. Your child would be motivated to do the school work you've placed in one box in hopes they'd find a reward such as a fun game, a snack, or a pass for a break in the next box.

My TYPE A personality loved the idea of this well-ordered school-day tool.

I appreciated the autonomous learning that the workbox method promised. As an added bonus, I was assured that if I implemented something similar in my own home, those dozens of learning games collecting dust in my school cabinet would finally get played with.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

But, after much consideration, I scrapped the entire idea altogether for the following reasons:

I live in an acutely small house. I have five kids that would all need an entire workbox system for themselves. With a few swift calculations, it was obvious to me that my tiny little home could not possibly hold 60+ boxes! 

Rearranging books, games, manipulatives, etc. in drawers, bins, boxes, or the like every night seemed like an exhausting endeavor.
While I liked the idea of Sue's system, I knew I'd need a structure that would encourage educational independence in each of my kids, but that wouldn't require a giant home renovation to make it happen.

After much deliberation and a little bit of elbow grease, I created my Task Card System.


These colorful one-inch "reminders" have revolutionized our daily schedule. No longer do I have to prod or cajole my children a million times a day to continue at their tasks. The motivation is built right into the system.

Here's how The Task Card System works:


In the evening, I quickly scan my Brave Homeschool Planer (It takes about 10 minutes, tops!) and determine what activities I have assigned for the following school day. I still maintain our TRIO of subjects but am now able to mix in an occasional "extra" to avoid a lot of downtime while I am working with or teaching another child. Extras might include play an educational game on the computer, complete a learning puzzle, have a snack, play with the baby, etc. These extras supply an intrinsic motivation for my kids to keep on keepin' on. Who wouldn't want to complete a math assignment knowing that snack time, computer time, playtime, etc. came next?

Admittedly, selecting the next day's activities each evening does require a little bit of purposeful selection. I have to order each Task Card in such a way that allows one child to complete a subject that requires my assistance while the other kids work on more independent subjects. Group subjects also have to be timed accordingly. But as Mom, I get the privilege of re-ordering the cards in the middle of the day if needed.

(Such was the case the other day when I had the entire day "ordered" and had to whisk us all out the door for a rather random trip to the doctor. When we returned, I made a few simple adjustments to the Task Cards and the kids were back to business as usual.)


The Perks of using The Task Card System:


The most obvious perk of The Task Card System is that I have the benefits of Sue Patrick's original idea--fostering independent learning and using all those fun "extras" that would otherwise get forgotten or passed over--without all the clunky boxes taking up space and demanding to be cleaned out/reorganized/de-cluttered every evening.

In addition, I never have to nag. My kids know exactly what is expected of them each day. For the most part, they get to set the pace of their own learning. So, should they buckle down and complete all the items on their card by lunch, they have the rest of the day to do as they please. But, should they lollygag and twitter away precious learning time, a longer-than-normal school day becomes the natural consequence.


To use the Task Card System:


From the Base Chart, pull off all the one-inch tags needed for the following day's work.
 
Attach these to the individual child's Task Card. (Both the Base Chart and the Task Cards can be printed in multiple colors to accommodate large families.)

Insert these cards into each child's book bin. Or, simply lay them out wherever daily work takes place.

The next day, remind each child to look over his/her Task Card and get going with their day.

When a child completes one tag's task, he/she returns it to the correct Base Chart making it very clear what has or has not been completed. (The Base Chart has a picture of the tag with a blank square just below it. The completed tag gets placed in the correct blank square. That way, you don't have to go searching all over the chart at the end of the night when you reorder the cards. Everything has a place and everything is in its place.

At the end of the school day, instruct each child to return their empty Task Card to their book bin in order that you may attach the next day's tags.


How to put it all together:


This is a digital download available to all email subscribers. After subscribing, you will immediately be sent a print-ready file. The 10-page file includes:

  • 1 sheet of 60 Task Tags that can be reproduced for multiple children
  • 7 Base Charts in the following colors: blue, yellow, red, purple, pink, orange, green
  • 7 Task Cards in the same colors

To ensure the best quality product when printing from a home printer, select "fit to print" before printing. Print the Base Charts onto 11x17 paper, the Tags onto 11x17 cardstock, and the Task Cards onto standard-sized cardstock.

Next, laminate all the pieces. The one-inch tags then need to be cut into individual squares. Apply clear velcro dots to the backs of the Tags, the empty squares on the Base Chart, and each of the 12 squares on the Task Cards.

Attach the Base Charts to the wall or the back of a closet door using 3M adhesive strips.

For more information on how to set it up and how to utilize the task cards throughout the homeschool day, be sure to watch a short series of video clips answering the FAQs.


*These printables are FREE but are for personal use only. In downloading the following files, you are agreeing not to copy, reproduce, or alter them except for your own personal, non-commercial usage. In addition, you are also agreeing not to share or publicly display any or all parts of the materials on Facebook, in an email, or in person. If you wish to share the downloads with others, please share a direct LINK to this post.


79 comments:

  1. WOW! Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

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  2. How awesome is this?! I'm with you - only 3 kids, but not enough space for tons of boxes. Thanks for your generosity...and color coded - you're my kind of gal. :)

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  3. You and I think so much alike! I ditched the traditional workboxes for (what I call) a work card too. (Don't know if you saw that post or not.) I was spending over an hour prepping workboxes for the kids. Who has that kind of time? The work card takes five minutes. LOVE IT!

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    1. I like the "play outside" tag. I'll have to add that.

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    2. My favorite is "clean your room." How is it possible that it takes them HOURS to clean and seconds to destroy? LOL

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  4. These task cards looks fantastic! What a blessing for another family!

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  5. Thanks a million, this is just what we needed!!! Plus it's AWESOME that you did 7 different colors!

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    1. Hopefully there's a color included for all tastes.

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  6. Thanks!!! I've been wanting something like this but do not have the patience to make it :)

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  7. THANK YOU! I so needed this today! :) And yes, we are color-coded too!

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  8. Thank you! Is there a way to save and print later? I don't have a printer connected to my computer.

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  9. SO AWESOME! I was thinking... How can I make these myself? NOPE, you did all the work for me! THANKS!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this! I have a similar situation with lack of space, but wanting/needing a system. You hit the nail on the head! Thank you for sharing so generously with us!

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  11. This is wonderful!! Thanks so much!

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  12. Last year I did something similar except instead of individual cards for each child, I created a laminated page for each day of the week with the to-do boxes at the top and the empty boxes for completed tasks at the bottom. These go in a 3-ring binder that is kept with each girl's books. In the front pocket of the binder I have an assignment sheet with their work for the entire week in all the subjects. I fill this out on Sunday evening according to my lessons plans. Behind each day in the binder, I have sheet protectors that I can slip worksheets in for that particular day. So in the morning, after breakfast, whoever isn't on kitchen cleanup duty that day gets her binder and starts going through her assignments. Like you, I stagger time together as a group with one-on-one lessons and independent work.

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    1. It sounds like you are quite organized! Love that. A 3-ring binder would make for a great system.

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  13. I think I'm going to make a version of this with the day's events/routine for my preschooler who needs extra structure. This way she'll know what's next. And I'll probably be more creative with her, too, inspired by ideas like "craft" or "cuddle with Mom". So I'm planning to include pictures for "errands", "go for walk", "friend time", and meals.

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    1. So glad it sparked such creative inspiration. I hope it works well for you. I love the "cuddle with mom" suggestion.

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  14. this is just what i've been looking for...Did not really have the budget for the boxes, but still need a way to "include" the girls in what comes next! We are in the first full year of homeschooling (k5 & a tiny tot). Reading other blogs has definately helped! Thanks so much.

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  15. Like Emily above, I'd like to modify this to use for our daily routine. Where did you get the illustrations (did you draw them yourself)?

    Thanks so much for the download!

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  16. This is just what I have been looking for...I just saw this post on you end of the year post and was wondering if the task cards were still available for "likers"?? It didn't look like I was able to download it now (since I am a few months late). I enjoy reading your blog...gonna start HS in Jan with my daughter (kindergarten). Happy New Year! Please email me if you are still willing to share the task cards! Thanks! Amanda McKee swim6205@gmail.com

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    1. Amanda, These are still available on my FB page. They will not appear if you are viewing the page from a smart phone or tablet. Please let me know if you are still having trouble.

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  17. I'm new to hs'ing, this looks like something I want/need to be organized. However I don't quite get the full picture. lol Maybe it's just too late tonight and I need to revisit this tomorrow. lol So every morning you fill up the small cards with what work needs to be completed and then once they complete it they return it to the larger chart??? Do they put it directly on the same subject or below or what is the space below it for?? I'm type A personality, so that makes hs'ing even more difficult for me lol

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  18. Hello! I love this, and tried to print (acoording to your directions), but it is no longer over on your facebook page. Is this still available?

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  19. Ok, another question - just love this. What did you design this in? If I may ask, I would like to try and design a couple of buttons to add to it so that we can include some things that we have that aren't on here. This is so great! I can just print another and white out but thought it would look nicer if it was designed similarly in the same program. Thanks for sharing this. It's awesome!

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    1. I asked a question yesterday but after seeing this post right away, I guess it didn't go through. So, is the idea that you put the buttons from the big chart on the personal chart at the beginning of the day (night before) and then the kids return them to the big chart after they are completed the next day? Do you put yours in order of how they are to be done?

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    2. I'm sorry, I never saw this post. I designed them in photoshop. Yes, the tags go from the base chart to the personal chart and then the kids put them back on the base chart when they are finished. I am hoping to put together a short "how to" video in the coming weeks.

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  20. I have been following your blog via email for several months now, but am not on Facebook. Is there any way to have access to your task cards without Facebook? If so, they would be wonderful to be able to make use of.

    Allison
    allison030574@Yahoo.com.au

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  21. I've liked your facebook page for sometime now, HOW did I miss this? Thank you so much! I think this will work well for us!

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    1. Great! Glad you found them and that they can be useful.

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  22. Is this offer still good? I just tried it and I am not seeing an ad for the set of task cards.

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    1. Yep. Still available. Be sure to watch the youtube videos for HOW to download them.

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  23. Downloading your task cards. I was "on the fence" about the workboxes, for several reasons. I decided to start here with the task cards and grow from there. My kindergartner will most likely have boxes, shelves or something to go and find her work. My 3rd grader and high school students most likely not. All can use the task cards. I will need to modify the cards for my high school student. He has a horrible time with time management, he has LD/processing issues so this maybe a tool to keep him on track. Thanks

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  24. HELLO! I WAS Wondering if the task cards link is still available I just came across your website really like it..Iam thinking about homeschooling my daughter the new year in august she needs a lot more time and one one then the public schools system can give so Iam doing a lot of searching for guidance and how to guidelines and tools and curriclum and this will help and I did not find the link to download can you help!! Thank you

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    1. Sha, They are available through my facebook page. You have to "like" the page first. There is a link in this post of a "how to" video. It will show you step-by-step what to do.

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  25. Love these! I just watched the vids and I love them! I was wondering how difficult it would be to add tasks that are specific to our family. Do you have a blank template available? BTW, my name is Jamie and I have 5 children too!! :o)

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    1. Unfortunately, Jamie, I don't have a blank one. These are just the ones I made for my own kids and have offered them up to my followers if they would work for anyone else.

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  26. These seem to be something that would work well at our house but we dont facebook. I do follow you on pintrest. I was wondering if there was another way to access the cards or if it was facebook only... Thanks
    Gina
    bandgphillips@yahoo.com

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  27. This is a great idea to organize & still implement some of the workbox system. We also live in a small home & don't have much room for the boxes or a cart type system.
    Like the above commenter I am not on FB and would love to print these to use with my kiddos this school year. Is there a way we can download them or print them without FB?

    Thanks & God Bless :)

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  28. OH MY GOSH WHAT A BLESSING... LOVE LOVE LOVE THESE... THIS WILL INDEED WORK FOR US!!!

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  29. These look lovely! However when I click on the picture of them on the 'only likers' tab nothing happens?

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    1. Sometimes, Krisit, after "liking" the page, you have to exit the page and then come back into it. Hope that helps.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. I'm sorry to ask a question that has been asked by others but I can't find any way to contact you directly. I don't have facebook but I'm following you on google+ and on pinterest. Is there any way I can get a copy of the task card files? I'm also willing to purchase if need be. Thanks!

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  31. Hi,
    I live in UK.It is overwhelming to know how great you people plan for homeschooling.Hats off to you.Iam planning to homeschool my 6yr old from November, I recently looked at your video about task cards.
    I would be grateful if you could please send me the link to download, as I donot have facebook account please
    I would also be grateful for your important tips as a first time homeschooler I need to remember.

    Please mail me to tnbmathy@yahoo.co.in

    Thanks in advance
    Om

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  32. I don't have Facebook - is there another way I can download the task cards. Please. Thanks.

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  33. I was wondering the same as the OP. Is there another way to download the task cards without Facebook? Thank you.

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  34. Same here - no FB so how can we get these?

    Thanks

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  35. Unfortunately, ladies, I am only offering these on Facebook.

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  36. Just out of curiosity...why are you only posting these on facebook and not on your blog? I get they are your cards and you can share or not share them but I was just wondering why they are only for people on facebook? I truly mean no disrespect. It just seems odd. That's all.

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    1. I put them on Facebook, originally, as a "thank you" and celebration of 500 followers. It required a lot of time and effort to place them there and so I've just never switched them over to any other platform. They seem to work well on Facebook.

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  37. I see. That explains a lot.
    Thanks for the response. :-)

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  38. Love love love this! Thanks for sharing.

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  39. You mentioned that you have a small house. I've seen a fair bit on your blog about how you organize your time, but is there anywhere that you explain how you manage your space (eg. where you homeschool, where you store books, materials, etc)? We have nine children and a main floor of only 1000 square feet, plus a basement. So I am very curious about how others manage in tight spaces. Thanks!

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    1. Elizabeth, the only posts I've written about this are my homeschool space posts that I write each year. You can find them all collectively here...
      http://www.theunlikelyhomeschool.com/search?q=places+and+spaces

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  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  41. I clicked on the task card picture to download and it wouldn't download. Are they still available?

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    1. Christina, FB has changed their terms of service so they can no longer be hosted there. Please email me at theunlikelyhomeschool@yahoo.com

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    2. I emailed you the other day:) I want to make sure you got it. Thanks!

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  42. Thanks so much for sharing these - so comprehensive! What a great colletion, and I so appreciate your generosity as we try to navigate this homeschooling thing! :)

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  43. I can't download the task cards it won't let, they are so what I have been looking for, Thank you love your post by the way

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  44. I signed up to receive the task cards but was sent a book list instead. Where can I download the task cards?

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  45. Are the task cards still available? I signed up but got a No Twaddle book list. That's good too, but I would love the task cards.

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    1. Yes, they are still available. Can you please email jamie@theunlikelyhomeschool.com and they'll be sent out from there.

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  46. Hi Jaime, I am going to try the task card system this year, but as I was planning our first week, I realize that a tag which reads SPELLING is great, but it doesn't tell the child what exactly they are to do in that subject. Where do you put specific daily assignments (eg., page 3-4). Do you simply tell your younger kids the assignment or do you have a written assignment book--which would involve a lot of redundancy in planning! Thanks.

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    1. I write all the specifics in my daily planner and set the Task Cards out each day based on those plans. The Task Cards are only to give them a visual prompt to keep them on task.

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    2. So then do they have to come to you to ask you ?

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    3. Yes. Or they just consult my homeschool planner. I have all their assignments written in there for my sake.

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  47. Question --- I would like to know if you still currently use the Task Cards at your kids' ages now... and how do you use them with older kids? thank you

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    1. Great question: I don't with my older kids. The purpose of the cards is to train them to be more independent with their day--to move on to their next activity without being prompted. My older kids do that now because they were trained using the task cards.

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