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Lesson Plan

Sharing Favorite Books Using Interactive Character 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 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Erika Griffin

Trumbull, Connecticut


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Gain knowledge of one type of popular culture text and its applications by discussing the purpose and design of trading cards

  • Review and expand their knowledge of character development by creating trading cards as a group and independently

  • Practice working collaboratively to complete a trading card about a character in a text they have read together

  • Think critically by choosing a book and character to outline, thinking about why they are appealing, and then creating a trading card with descriptions aimed at getting their peers interested in the book

  • Practice making reading selections by reading trading cards and using them to choose independent reading texts

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Session 1

Introducing the Strategy

1. Gather students in a circle. Ask them to share some of the ways that they choose books to read. One of the responses may be "my friends tell me about books that they like," but if it isn't, explain that readers often recommend books to others and use recommendations from other readers to select books to read. For example, many people read book reviews and use them to decide what they will read. Questions for discussion include:

  • What would make you want to recommend a book to someone else?

  • If you were looking at a book review or listening to someone's recommendation, what kinds of things would make you want to read a book?
You may want to jot students' responses on the board or a piece of chart paper.

Note: You may want to bring in a book review to share or be prepared to give an example of a time when you read a book based on someone's recommendation.

2. Show students the trading cards you have collected or invite students who brought in cards to share them (see Preparation, Step 4).

3. Ask students to share what they already know about trading cards. You might want to have them work in pairs or small groups to study trading cards and discuss the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of trading cards?

  • How do you use them?

  • What do you notice about trading cards?

  • What information do they include? Not include?

  • How is the information organized?

  • Why do they include pictures?
4. Bring the class back together to share their findings. You want to make sure that students understand how trading cards provide readers with basic information about a person or character, include a picture, and can easily be traded. Trading favorite cards is a way of encouraging peers to develop an interest in and learn more about a particular person or character. This is similar to what readers do when they recommend books to each other. Explain to students that they will be creating trading cards as a way to recommend books to their peers.

Modeling the Strategy

5. Show students the Trading Card Creator tool or Trading Cards mobile app with an LCD projector; if you do not have an LCD projector, show students the transparency you have created (see Preparation, Step 5).

6. Direct students to the text you have chosen. Explain that this is a book you have all enjoyed and would like to share with others and that you will create a character trading card as one way to make a book recommendation.

7. The first step will be to select a character to outline. Explain that one of the main reasons we read narrative texts and recommend them to our friends is because we are fascinated with the characters. For this example, explain to the students that you will select a memorable character - one you found particularly interesting and whom you think other readers will enjoy. You will want to select a main character from the text. Model for students the kind of questions you might ask yourself when selecting this character:

  • Is this character interesting to me? Why?

  • Will other students enjoy this character?

  • Can I write a description of this character that will be engaging?

  • Does this character do and say things that others will find interesting?
8. Walk through the first two sections of the trading card and model how you would complete it for this character by answering each question. Try to answer the questions on the trading card in a way that makes the character and text appealing to others. Remind students that this card is meant to engage a potential reader, directing their attention to the lists you created during Step 1.

Guided Practice

9. Show students the next three sections of the trading card. Ask them to work with their partners (for about 10 minutes) to discuss possible answers to the questions in these sections.

10. Ask students to share their responses; record them on chart paper. Try to collect a few answers for each question.

11. Once you have students' answers recorded, ask them to help you choose what should go on the card. As you work, ask them to justify their choices based on what they think will be most compelling to someone who has not read the book and why it is compelling. Complete the rest of the trading card.

12. If you are working online, show students how to print the completed card and where they can draw a picture of the character. You may want to assign a student to complete the drawing so that you have a completed trading card to post as a model while students are creating their own cards.

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Session 2

Independent Practice

1. Ask students to select a text they have read and enjoyed recently, preferably one they know well (it may be helpful for them to have a copy of the text). They should choose a character to outline on their cards based on the following questions:

  • Which character in the story is most interesting to me? Why?

  • Will this character be interesting to my classmates? Why?

  • Can I describe this character in ways that make him/her/it appealing to others?

  • Does this character do and say interesting things? What?
2. Have students use the Trading Card Creator tool or Trading Cards mobile app to create a trading card for the character they have chosen. Remind them that their goal is to make their books seem appealing to someone who has never read them before. Students can use the questions you just discussed to guide their work.

Note: If you have a computer lab, students can work on this at the same time. If not, you can have students work in small groups at your classroom computers or use blank planning sheets you have made.

3. If using the online Trading Card Creator, remind students to save a draft of their work to revise as necessary. As students complete the cards, they can print them or e-mail them to share with others.

Using the Recommendations

4. After students have created their trading cards, gather them together and ask them to share their work. You may want to ask, "Does anyone think this is a book they would like to read after listening to the information on the trading card?" This conversation will reinforce the purpose of this lesson - to encourage readers to recommend books to others and to use recommendations when selecting books.

5. Ask students how they would like to share their trading cards. Some choices include:

  • Have students trade them with peers they think might enjoy a particular book

  • Place them in a binder that sits near the classroom library

  • Saving cards to the tablet's photo library and swapping tablets

  • Place each one in the book it goes with using library pockets
6. Let students know that when they finish a book they like, they can create a card for that text, upload a picture, and share it with others in whatever way the class has decided. Encourage students to use the trading cards when they are looking for a new book to read.

Note: You probably don't want to have students create trading cards for every book they read, as it is essential for them to spend most of their time reading. The purpose of this lesson is to provide students with one way to recommend books to other readers and to use recommendations when selecting texts.

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  • Use trading cards as a culminating activity after reading a book and discussing it during a read-aloud, in a book club, or literature circle.

  • Use the trading card format to develop characters for stories (see Planning Story Characters Using Interactive Trading Cards.

  • Create trading cards to explore other aspects of the book, such as setting, events, or vocabulary.

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  • Observe students during class discussions, small group, and partner work. Look for the following:
  • Are students making the connection between trading cards and book recommendations?

  • Are students talking about ways to make the character appealing?

  • Are students' responses on the trading card written in a way that would interest other students?

If you do not see evidence of the above, meet with small groups or partnerships to clarify the goal of the lesson.

  • You can develop a simple checklist for students that they can use independently. For example:

    After you create your trading card, answer Yes or No to the following questions.


    Is the trading card complete? Have I answered all of the questions?


    Have I selected a memorable character?


    Is my card written in a way that makes this character sound interesting?


    Do I think that someone will want to read the book after looking at my card? Why?


    Have I reread to make sure my trading card accurately describes the character in the text?


    Have I included a picture of my character that makes the character look interesting and matches the character description on the card?


    Is this my best work?

  • Collect the first set of trading cards completed by students. Review them for completeness, quality, and accuracy. You can use the checklist above to assess studentsí work. Provide students with feedback resulting from your observations. It will be helpful to share samples of students' work that meet your expectations as exemplars. Ask students to revise their trading cards as needed.

  • After implementing a system of sharing the cards, occasionally ask students if the trading cards have helped them to recommend texts and select new texts. If not, discuss how to make the trading cards more effective.

  • Review trading cards on a regular basis to determine whether the cards are accurate, complete, and being used by other students.

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