Asking students to create trading cards is a great way to increase engagement or allow students to demonstrate an understanding of nearly any topic. Trading Card Creator has done all of the work for teachers by providing an online platform and app (iOS, Android) for making trading cards that is complete with step-by-step questions to guide students through the process. Students can select from the following categories:
Fictional Person – perfect for book characters.
Real Person – great for historical figures, authors, etc.
Fictional Place – another great way to engage student in a fiction book.
Real Place – I’m thinking biomes, geography…
Physical Object – lab equipment trading cards!
Event – current events, historical events…
Vocabulary (app only) – go beyond definitions.
Abstract Concept (website only) – ideas, emotions, virtues…
Create Your Own (website only) – go in a different direction entirely.
Update: The iOS app no longer appears to be working. It has not been updated since 2014.
The guiding questions provided within the website and app are incredible. I’ve provided the questions for creating a card for a fictional character below. I’ve also created printable sets of questions for all card types. You can download them at the bottom of the page.
Fictional Character Trading Card Example
To create a card for a book character, students will need the following information:
Source: Where do you read about or see (Character)?
Appearance: What does (Character) look like?
Personality: How does (Character) act (eg. funny, shy, daring)?
Thoughts: What are (Character)’s most important thoughts?
Feelings: What are (Character)’s most important feelings?
Problem: What is (Character)’s problem or challenge at the beginning of the story?
Goal: What does (Character) want to happen by the end of the story?
Outcome: Does (Character) succeed? What happens as a result?
Quote: What memorable thing did (Character) say?
Action: What was the one thing (Character) did that really got your attention?
Interactions: How did (Character) get along with other characters?
Personal Connection: Do you like (Character)? Why or why not? Who does (Character) remind you of and why?
Students can add an image of their character (optional).
Other Trading Card Assignments
The other six trading card formats have a similar detailed set of questions for students. I have summarized the questions below. .
Real Person Trading Card
Background: time period, location, role.
Major Events: event, response.
Development: problem, goal, outcome.
Memorable Interactions: quote, action, interactions.
Place Trading Card
Description: source, location, appearance.
Major Events: events, effects.
Fictional Place: also asks for the fictional work that was the source of the place.
Real Place: also asks to whom the place is significant and why?
Description: definition, senses.
Importance: use, effects, to whom is it important?
Event Trading Card
Description: what, time period, location.
Cause and Outcome: cause, reason, result.
Description: definition, feeling.
Cause and Outcomes
Importance: significance, to whom.
Creating and Saving Your Trading Card
After students have completed their research, they just enter their information into the trading card generator. Trading cards can be saved as printable PDFs. Students can cut their cards along the dotted line, fold in half, and tape the sides.
Trading Card Generator App
The Trading Card Generator App seems to be more versatile than the website. The addition of a Vocabulary Card is great for nearly any subject-area. Students can choose from twelve colorful card designs. The topics within each card seem to be more focussed in the app, and the guiding questions are even better than the excellent ones on the website.
ReadWriteThink has several lesson plans that use this app for grades K-12. Lessons cover everything from Amelia Bedelia Up Close! Closely Reading a Classic Story (grades 1-2) toTrading Information about Minerals Through Trading Cards (grades 6-8), and Creating Psychological Profiles of Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird (grades 9-12).