Over the years, I have used trading cards with students in a variety of ways. It is a project that can be implemented easily with literature and history (or really any academic area). In the past, my students researched a historical figure and designed a trading card about the person; that assignment incorporated research and summarizing skills. Another option is to design a card for a character in literature. My favorite trading card assignment with my students happened this year. My language arts class designed Greek mythology trading cards. We then had a trading card party, and students calculated card values after the trades ended. I made the activity technology based to build in computer formatting skills, but it could be a handwritten project too. Whichever way you choose to incorporate trading cards into your curriculum, it will activate many skills.
Before starting your trading card assignment, look at traditional trading cards. You can look up samples online or have students bring in any collections they have to share with the group. Note basic features of the cards. Sports trading cards are the easiest to use as samples because they have a main picture, team symbols, stats, and some background information about each athlete. That format is easy to replicate with your history or literature information.
Trading Cards for History
- Not only can students research people, they can also create cards for famous locations or events in history.
- Assign students a topic or let them choose. Provide some type of research handout** for students to take notes.
- Students organize their facts into a trading card template** and print. Printing on white cardstock is preferred because it is sturdier and looks more authentic.
- Alternately, you can print a template** and students fill in information and illustrations by hand. **Set printer preferences to two-sided and print on short edge**
**To download handouts and templates for free, visit my original blog post about trading cards HERE.
Trading Cards for Literature
- Students consider traits of a main character related to a novel study from class. Using a character chart or a brainstorming page, students organize notes about the character.
- In place of character cards, students can design cards for the setting, theme, or important symbols from the story. Any aspect of the novel you are highlighting with students could have a card designed for it.
- Like the history version, students either format their information in a trading card template on the computer or print and handwrite information into the cards.
Trading Card Party
- To extend the trading card activity, plan a trading party.
- After all cards are complete, print two sets of cards. One set the students keep. The other set is for trading.
- Create a point value system for the cards. With my group’s Greek mythology cards, Titan cards were worth the most, and mortals were worth the least. I also had a few cards that were worth extra points because there was only one available in the whole class. Students traded cards with each other for about 20 minutes; I revealed the value of the cards, and then we calculated how much their collection was worth. Students also totaled the value of their original set of cards. It was a great way to integrate a little math into the activity.