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Lesson Plan

Planning Story Characters Using Interactive Trading Cards

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two or three 50- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Erika Griffin

Trumbull, Connecticut


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives

Mobile Apps





  • Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, 1996) or Brave Irene by William Steig (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1986)

  • Computers or tablet devices with Internet access

  • LCD projector (optional)

  • Projector and transparencies (optional)

  • Samples of popular trading cards

  • Story where a character has a problem that is resolved

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Trading Card Creator

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Trading Card Creator

This tool provides a fun and useful way to explore a variety of topics such as a character in a book, a person or place from history, or even a physical object. An excellent tool to for summarizing or as a prewriting exercise for original stories.


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Trading Cards

Grades   3 – 8  |  Mobile App  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Trading Cards

Invigorate students' writing with an interactive tool that allows them to demonstrate their comprehension using a mobile app.


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Character Trading Cards Planning Sheet

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1. Make sure your students understand the concept of story structure (e.g., character, setting, and plot) and how characters tend to develop in narrative text. You may want to teach Inferring How and Why Characters Change, Using Picture Books to Teach Plot Development and Character Resolution, or Charting Characters for a More Complete Understanding of the Story before beginning this lesson.

2. This lesson also assumes that students understand how to structure and write a narrative story. The focus of the lesson is on refining students' abilities to plan for characters in a story; for that reason, you may want your students to be working on a narrative or to have brainstormed ideas for a story in their writing journals.

3. Choose a book to use as an example. You want a book with a character who has a problem that is resolved by the end of the story. This lesson uses Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, 1996) as an example; Brave Irene by William Steig (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1986) would also work. Read the text you have selected, identifying places where the character is described, where the conflict/problem is introduced, where the character deals with the conflict, and where the conflict is resolved or the goal is reached. For older students, you may want to use a novel you have read aloud as a class or short stories with more complex characters.

4. Visit and familiarize yourself with the Trading Card Creator online tool or the Trading Cards mobile app. You will be using the character from the book you have selected to model its use with students. There are several ways you can approach this: by using an LCD projector and a computer with Internet access or by creating a transparency of the Character Trading Cards Planning Sheet. You may want to create a sample card with the answers filled in for your own reference.

5. Students will also use the online Trading Card Creator tool or Trading Cards app to create their own trading cards; if you do not have classroom computers or tablet devices with Internet access, you will want to reserve a session in your school's technology lab (see Session 2). If using the online tool, bookmark it on the computers. If using the mobile app, download it to each device.

6. Photocopy the Character Trading Cards Planning Sheet for each student.

7. Assemble examples of popular trading cards. Yu-Gi-Oh!, Harry Potter, and sports cards are all examples you might choose. You can purchase these or ask your students to bring some in to share.

8. You may choose to create a sample trading card with some deliberate weaknesses (i.e., vague description) to share with students as an example of how to complete a peer review (see Session 3, Step 1).

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