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Lesson Plan

Powerful Writing: Description in Creating Monster Trading Cards

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Powerful Writing: Description in Creating Monster Trading Cards

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

Michelle Kimbro

Oakwood, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • self-edit to see what kind of details they currently use in writing and revise for clarity and creativity.

  • give feedback to their peers on use of descriptive language.

  • improve the amount and quality of description in their writing based on feedback from their peers.

  • make the connection between graphical elements and use of details in writing.

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Session One

  1. Begin with a whole-class discussion on the types of monsters students would know from literature, comics, cartoons, and trading-card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh!. Ask them what characteristics they like or dislike about them, why, and how they might change them if they had the chance.

  2. Write on the board a list of the words and short phrases the class uses to describe their likes and dislikes. This should not merely be a litany of adjectives; note how they allude to active characteristics such as a monster's manner of speech, its weaknesses, how and what it eats, and so on, allowing for reference points for when they create their own monsters.

  3. Pass out copies of the template (have many extras on hand for those who want to start over) and tell the class that they have an opportunity to be the creator, both artist and writer, of an altogether new monster.

  4. Have the kids draw whatever type of monster they choose, giving it a name, type, description, etc., following the template. They should be free to go back and forth from the drawing to the writing, adding details to each to enhance their creature's uniqueness. This Example Monster Card could serve as a model to get them started.

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Session Two

  1. Have groups of three to four share their cards, giving feedback on how the details can be enhanced by adding more "powerful" (i.e., vivid and specific) words to describe each monster. You may choose to let each group use the Monster Trading Card Rubric to facilitate their feedback.

  2. Students then revise their written descriptions and drawings, if necessary. New templates can be used if the students desire, or if they are happy with their drawings but need to rewrite, they can cut on the fold and keep the drawing but tape or glue a revised description to the back of the original drawing.

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  • Students can create multiple cards, and their peers (or themselves) can give them "values" based on the Monster Trading Card Rubric or other criteria to trade or compete with each other.

  • Have students write a fairy tale featuring their monsters. Encourage them to be creative with place names and other characters' names, employing similar strategies they used to describe their monsters in this lesson.

  • Extend your study of descriptive writing using these Descriptive Writing Techniques and Narrative and Descriptive Writing Prompts.

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The Monster Trading Card Rubric can be used to assess the students' final cards. Observation of small-group feedback and individual revision strategies could also play a part in the assessment.

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