Wanna Trade?

Did you ever collect trading cards when you were a kid?  If you did, then you know the excitement of getting a card that you have been waiting a long time DSC_1763for.  Growing up, I was never really into collecting them, but my husband was an avid collector of baseball cards.  In fact, he still has boxes and boxes of cards in our attic that he just can’t bare to part with.  Our 7-year-old son has started his own collection now.  Though his accumulation has become a montage of various types including baseball cards, football cards, Pokemon cards and Lit. Trading Cards.

Now, I am sure you are wondering what is a “Lit. Trading Card,” right?  Well, here is the scoop…

A Literature Trading Card is a tradable card that visually reflects the nature of a children’s literature book.  This seems like a basic concept but they actually are an amazing way to bring out the creativity in your child(ren) while creating a small keepsake that you can reflect on for years to come.

The idea came about a couple of years ago when Deni Corbett asked me if I would help her create a basic card for a series of books she was working with at the time.  This seemed like an easy task, though I honestly had no idea at that time how they would be effective.  Little did I know, I would eventually fall in love with creating them.  Those first, simple cards have now transformed into an original trading card style that I take very seriously.  A lot of time goes into reading through each book, studying the illustrations and thinking about how children will remember the story.  Whether it’s the type of artistic flare from the illustrations or the author’s content and characters, each trading card design brings out the essence of the literature book it’s based on.  The result is a fusion between the joy of exploring children’s books with the excitement of trading collectible cards.  These cards will allow you to create memories and build  legacies,  whatever the setting.

So how does this bring out the creativity in your child(ren)?   That’s the exciting part of these cards.  The backside of the cards are a blank canvas for them to create their own masterpiece based on the inspiration from the book.

Here is an example using the book,  A Splash of Red; The Life of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.



Our inspiration…


The front side of “A Splash of Red” trading card.

Even my big girl loves to re-read this book over and over again!

Even my big girl loves to re-read this book over and over again!


I will show you three different examples of ways you can create masterpieces on the backside of this particular trading card, but really the possibilities are endless.

1.Collage-The illustrations in this book are as captivating as the story itself. Melissa Sweet does an incredible job mixing her own style with that of Horace Pippin’s. Have students select different textures they find in magazines and newspapers to make collage art like Melissa’s illustrations in the book.  Using a glue stick, have them paste their clippings all together to create a unique piece of art.  Ask them if their creations can be made to look like an object or is it abstract?  Show them examples of Melissa Sweet’s illustrations for inspiration.


Cutting various textures, colors and designs from magazines and scrapbook paper. In this example, she decided to make her art abstract.


Glue the pieces onto the backside of the trading card.

Completed art and supplies.

Completed art and supplies.

2.  Sketch-When Horace was little, he would sit on the floor and draw what he saw around him with charcoal. The pictures would come alive in his mind. Have your students look around the room and simply sketch what they see. Maybe it’s a friend or a pet just like Horace did. For older students, have them do this holding their wrist with the opposite hand, much like Horace Pippin had to learn to do.


Sketching like Horace.

Once a pencil sketch has been completed, go back over the sketch with pen. Encourage your child to add texture and detail with the use of different line elements.

Once a pencil sketch has been completed, go back over the sketch with pen. Encourage your child to add texture and detail with the use of different line elements.

Every good artist signs their work!

Every good artist signs their work!

3. Stamp– Have students create an object using only their favorite color. For younger ones, they could select several different objects that are that color or just pick one object. Another idea for younger students would be to have them stamp their fingerprint with their favorite color and create a character out of it.

He chose blue as his favorite color.

We discussed various colors on a color wheel and my son chose blue as his favorite color for his thumbprint.



Using stamps are a great way to practice spelling their names for younger children.  My son wanted to create another one so he could write his name out too!

Once their masterpieces have been completed and their signature written, the cards can be traded among classmates, siblings, with your teacher or with another class.  The child(ren) can showcase their cards in trading card sleeves or in accordion style books.  Visit my TpT store and you can find a free template on how to make these fun accordion books!

Mini Accordion Trading Card Book

Accordion Trading Card Book

For classroom teachers, you could also use the backside of the trading card to write special notes of encouragement for your students and send home as an award.  In our house we call those “happy-grams”.


Displayed in a trading card sleeve.

We have created a variety of outlets to get connected in our trading card community.  By purchasing a set of lit trading cards, you are invited to join our closed Facebook group where you will get special instructions, ideas, and maybe even a “Freebie” every now and then – just to say, thanks!  Also, you will meet other parents and educators who are interested in creating connected learning environments for their children/students.

Click here for your FREE set of “A Splash of Red” lit. trading cards and start preserving those keepsakes, one moment at a time!


Elizabeth Quigley



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