One of our friends named C.J. is an Elementary School assistant principal, card collecting aficionado and father of two boys. Given the fact that many of us are now home bound for the next few weeks with schools closed during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, we asked him for some tips on using trading cards as a teaching tool at home with kids. Here’s what he had to say:
“A trip to a Colorado game last spring with my son’s Carson and Austin helped our family learn a new appreciation for the hobby of collecting trading cards. Carson (11) and Austin (6) have enjoyed collecting cards of their favorite athletes. The names of Charlie Blackmon, Nikola Jokic and Nathan McKinnon come up often at our house as do Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Wayne Gretzky. Collecting trading cards has opened multiple avenues of learning for the boys and make for excellent manipulatives for classroom and home learning.
“Anything you can use to physically show a student while teaching that they can touch, feel and, well, manipulate, is called a manipulative in education. Not every student can fully conceptualize numbers on a board, so by using manipulatives that they can touch, feel and use, it helps to deepen mathematical concepts they may ordinarily struggle with. There is a reason why teachers will often use beans to help kids learn to count. Touching them, moving them, and seeing them off the board helps make it real and much more interesting to the student. Manipulatives are important in making mathematics visible to different types of learners. The use of trading cards as manipulatives in math helps students to think differently, reason, problem solve and engage. So it’s time to break out the shoe boxes and binders you have as we are stuck at home and use them as tools to help teach our kids.
“Here is the back of one of my favorite cards growing up the Upper Deck Wayne Gretzky Promo card. Let’s look at some possibilities:
“In primary, you could utilize trading cards to support mastering standards such as counting to 100 by 1’s and 10’s or helping to organize cards into sets by number. Finding missing numbers in the set or creating strategies to organize them in groups of ten can help a lot with number recognition and counting. Plus now you have a helper on organizing your sets. One fun game I like that I saw Upper Deck and Go GTS Live run at the National Sports Collectors Convention is ‘The Collation Game.’ They give kids groups of cards in a set that have been jumbled up and the kids race to put together the cards in numerical order the fastest. It’s a really fun way to teach number recognition and strategies for counting, but you probably want to use common cards for this game as corners will definitely be dinged. If you are at home with more than one child, it’s a fun game to play. Just make sure you are recognizing age differences and making adjustments accordingly. A fair match may be giving a six-year-old a 20-card set to put together while his 8-year-old brother gets a 30-card set to complete. If they complain, you can use the same amount of cards, just mix up the 8-year-olds more than the 6-year-olds.
“With your intermediate aged students in Grades 3-5 you might use trading cards to support practice to identify and order whole numbers and decimals as they examine statistics on cards. Statistics on the back of cards are made for teaching math and making it relevant to a sport they love only improves learning and their retention of mathematical concepts. After examining a goalie’s win percentage, a student will come to learn that the higher the statistical number, the better the goalie likely is on the ice, unless of course he gets no offensive support, which leads you to teaching another statistic.
“Trading cards are also an effective tool for teaching social studies and geography (ex. Finding latitude and longitude coordinates of teams, learning about the cultures of where players are from) and writing (ex. Writing a letter to your favorite athlete or trading card company and seeing if they respond). My boys have learned so much about history through collecting cards. They have learned about names like Mickey Mantle, Gordie Howe, and Joe Montana and the eras in which they lived and played. They have definitely seen changes in fashion and design through the various decades of releases which they have a lot of fun with noticing the changes in gear and uniforms over the years.
“And let’s not forget using trading cards to foster a love for art. Upper Deck had a great story not too long ago about a youngster who couldn’t find all the cards he needed in a set, so he decided to just make his own by drawing and coloring them. Check out his story! Encouraging your children to replicate existing cards or making their own cards can be a lot of fun and keep them busy for a while, especially if you challenge them to make their own set!
“Through collecting cards with my boys I’ve got to see firsthand the sense of wonder I had back in 1989 opening packs of Upper Deck Baseball cards in search of card number 1; the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie! Using trading cards to support your instruction can bring awe at home, but also strengthen connections to essential learning.”
Do you have some tips on ways you can use trading cards to help teach kids at home during this difficult time? Share them with Upper Deck on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #UDEducates. Maybe we will feature you for a future story!