Crafting an Educational Card Game

There is something special about trading card games – whether we’re talking about Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Yu-gi-oh! or any one of the hundreds of different games that exist. The idea of spending time collecting, trading, and battling opponents with your cards has a broad appeal. With the development of digital card games, the market is poised to continue growing, albeit in a different direction.


Recognizing this trend, I stumbled upon one of my most exciting projects: the Author Study Collectible Card Game.

The Cards…

The concept of the cards came to me almost by accident! I was thinking about how to get the first-grade students more excited about reading and studying authors for their literacy unit when I suddenly remembered the excitement I used to feel when I would trade Pokemon cards with my peers.

So, why couldn’t I reproduce that same feeling with my students as they learned about different authors and books?

I would end up creating the following for each card:

  • Power: From 1-100 – this value tells you how difficult the book is to read. This value is directly adjusted based on the reading level.
  • Rarity: From 1-15 – this value is displayed as tally marks to reinforce the students’ knowledge (data-handling connection) and reflects the number of copies that exist in the school’s library database. The more copies, the lower the rarity.
  • Star Rating: From 1-5 – this value is pulled from the Amazon worldwide book sales database and reflects the global popularity of the book.
  • Author ColorEach author’s cards are a different color, which is similar to the idea of “types” ie. Pokemon or even “elements” from Magic the Gathering. This served to help the students visually identify their favorite author’s cards.
  • Abilities: The craft tools that the author has used in the book written in a child-friendly way.

Find an example card below:


Check out the video below to see what I created:

The Game…

Up until this point, the Author Study Collectible Card Game was all about earning and collecting cards. I watched closely as the card economy evolved over time – I would introduce new cards each week and slowly certain trends began to emerge. I retained the only soft copies of the cards, which meant that only I had access to print more. I would give a stack of cards to each homeroom teacher while they were studying that author, which meant that kids began to trade amongst the homerooms.

When I asked students why they wanted certain cards some interesting ideas began to surface:

  • He/She is my favorite author
  • I love that book
  • That author’s color is my favorite
  • I want the cards with the most power
  • I want the cards with the most star rating
  • I want the cards with the most rarity

Of course, from a gamer perspective, I expected to see the last three from the list above. I forgot however that what motivates a six-year-old is not the same as that which would motivate a competitive adult.

The Board…

If I wanted the Author Study Collectible Card Game (ASCCG) to become something more than just a collectible series – if I wanted the students to begin battling them, I would have to establish a ruleset.

So, I turned to the laser cutter in the school to create a board: fullsizerender-4

I made six copies of the board and wanted to teach the students how to play the game using an innovative tool I had recently discovered. I have always been interested in Augmented Reality but felt that the available tools for creating augmented content were very limited. That was until someone showed me Blippar – the tool itself will be the topic of another post, but needless to say it’s awesome! (If you want to scan the above image and experience Blippar – just download the app from the Playstore or App Store, enter in the code 63766, and point the phone at the image)

My new blipp would teach the students how to play the game, without me having to be there! Students would break off into small groups with their cards, an iPad, and a board – they would use the iPad to scan the board, explore the game rules and play!

It was a huge success. Students loved the flipped classroom approach where the board actually seemed to come alive and teach them how to play; I would end up using Blippar frequently in the months to come, actually presenting on it at a technology conference in Mumbai.

The Tournament…

So now I had students battling one another in the hallways during break times and students beginning to look for specific cards because they realized that they were the strongest. My game’s economy had begun to change significantly; what could I do next?

I decided to organize an ASCCG tournament that would be open to all of the first-grade students whose classes had participated in the game.

Check out a few videos of the event below:

Overall, it was an immense success. Students loved it, teachers recognized the learning benefits, and parents couldn’t believe how excited their children were to come to school. I can’t wait to build upon it this year!

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