How to Make Trading Cards Valuable in Your Classroom

How to Make Trading Cards Valuable in Your Classroom

Awhile back a customer asked me a great question, “What is the collectable factor of your trading cards and how would you encourage students to trade them?”


First off, trading cards can be used for whatever you need them for, not just trading! If you just want to print them and pass them out to your students to use like traditional flashcards, you can. If you want to pass out blank versions of the trading cards and use them like task cards by having students fill in their own information to help them cement their learning, you can! The fun part about the cards is that the trading card design lends itself to making them extremely engaging for children.


If you think about the sports trading cards that we grew up with, they had serious value for some people. In an article I read from titled “The baseball-card bubble” it said, “The Honus Wagner card that went for just under half a million dollars in 1991 sold for $1.3m in 2000 and $2.8m in 2007.” That’s some serious value! So what gave those sports trading cards (that were nothing more than a piece of cardboard with a picture and some writing on them) so much value? Baseball card companies, like TOPPS, did things to create scarcity by only printing small amounts of particular cards. They were also valuable because people had to earn money and buy them. So how can you recreate scenarios like this at home or in your classroom? To give the trading cards value or a collectable factor there are some tricks the teacher or parent giving out the cards can do. Here is a list of 5 fun ideas for giving trading cards value, having kids earn them, and making them collectable:


  1. Make students earn trading cards instead of just passing them out.

Have stations where students earn trading cards for answering questions or doing tasks. If they collect the whole set or collect a certain number of different cards they might even get a prize.


  1. Pass out random trading cards as educational rewards for positive behavior.

If you do this then your students will end up with all different cards. This ups the collectable factor because students will need to trade them with each other to collect the whole set. In my classroom I would purposefully give certain students several of the same card to encourage them to trade their extra cards for those they didn’t have. It just made it more fun!


  1. Staple them to returned A+ assignments.

Students will appreciate this more than just putting a sticker, stamp or writing, “Way to go!” at the top of their papers. Also, if they know they’ll have a chance to earn trading cards they might even put more effort into their assignments.


  1. Create “Scarcity”

Tell your class there are a limited number of certain cards that you’ll be passing out so not everybody will get one. This will make certain cards seem extra valuable!


  1. Allow students to earn prizes for memorizing the information on them.

Make a deal that if they memorize the information on the back they’ll get a little prize. To get them to memorize all of the information on a whole set of cards tell them you’ll give them a random card quiz. For the quiz pull one card from the deck at random and if they can tell you the information on the back they get the prize.


Please remember, there is no right or wrong way to use trading cards in your classroom or with your children at home. Use them however you see fit. Just remember, the main purpose of them is to have fun learning and memorizing new information. If kids are doing that, then you’re on the right track!

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