Artist trading cards are miniature works of art that children can trade with others. This project is for art teachers, classroom teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, or ANYONE looking to provide a fun, open-ended creative experience for children.
This project is excellent for children from pre-school to high school (adults love doing this too)! In fact, at my art event, I had a lot of parents who sat down and made artist trading cards alongside their children. This is powerful for children, now more than ever. To sit and make art with their parents is special to children of all ages! You don’t have to do anything but provide the opportunity, and your students will amaze you with what they come up with!
This project has extra credit! Check it out!
You provide the space to create, and the kids will provide the creativity! Giving my students time to be creative—free and unencumbered—is important. Setting up the space to create is important as well. Before my students started their artist trading cards, I set up my art studio with trays (I got them from the Dollar Store), and I had all the supplies sitting out in the room and on the table.
Think of this like a big family feast. If you have everything on the table, children can reach for things they want to explore, ask their classmates to pass supplies, and much more. I set out the markers, paintbrushes, stickers, etc., all in the middle of the table to invite them to make art and excite them about using my art supplies. While making art, children talk to each other, calm, relaxed, and free of all digital screens (yeah!).
The therapeutic elements of art can’t be ignored. This lesson will help your students in so many ways!
What are artist trading cards, you ask?
Artist trading cards are miniature works of art that children can trade with others (if they want). I say “if they want” because…well, my students loved these so much they didn’t want to trade them. Instead, I’d see them make something fabulous and immediately put it in their bag to go home.
Smart move on their part because I wanted to keep so many of them—they were fabulous and represent EXACTLY why I love teaching children art.
I’ve been making process art with my students for years using rotating centers, stations, etc. Recently, I was re-reading Meri Cherry’s book on process art, and she mentioned Artist Trading Cards. Of course, this wasn’t a new idea, but it was a great reminder to “plan” to give children time to be spontaneous and create art without many instructions or rules. Her book is full of fun inspiration, and I highly recommend it.
My holiday event was a perfect place to make artist trading cards, but you can make them at any time of the year!
This will greatly depend on the child, of course. Young children tend to jump right in, not the least bit worried about the outcome. As children get older, we seem to teach this fearlessness out of them, and they start looking to us for validation, rules, and explanation.
If your students have that look of terror in their eyes, it’s probably a good sign that this activity is needed more than you thought, but of course, there are many ways you can support your students. You can suggest they pick one material that interests them and put something on their paper to see where it leads. You could suggest that a classmate make a mark on their paper and then let them finish it. For example, the student on the far right (in the photo below) took a few lines I had drawn with a marker and created this gorgeous artist trading card you see her working on.
The most important thing is that you remind your students to have fun! When they enjoy themselves, their worries fade away, and their creativity can creep back in.
My students have so much fun making artist trading cards. They love when I pull out stamps and paints and various things we don’t always use (all at once).
In fact, at my holiday event, I had a student who loved this activity so much that she sat there for FOUR HOURS, making masterpiece after masterpiece after masterpiece. Amazing!
Above are some examples of the artist trading cards my students have made.
There are many great things about making artist trading cards with your students. Versatility is one of the big ones. You can have your students make them at any time of the year. They can be seasonal (like my Holiday party) or any time of the year—with or without a theme.
There are endless options for times when you can make artist trading cards with your students.
The trading card (pictured above) exemplifies what a child can do with miscellaneous materials and a piece of paper—wow!
Trust me, give this a try with your students, and you will be so glad that you did—so will they!
Tell your students Jenny K. says hi!
If you’re looking for more holiday craft ideas, I’ve got you! I’ve written a blog post about the holiday events I hosted at my studio. We did 10 fun and different art activities using centers. Take a look HERE.
Valentine’s Day card stARTers for your students. This resource includes 12 different card “starter” ideas/templates. They are designed to start the creative juices flowing in your students. Some of the starter designs are more intricate than others in an effort to help provide you with some differentiation options.
Students love to be creative and they love to give cards to people they care about – especially around Valentine’s Day. This Valentine’s Day activity will help you foster both of those interests in your students. Each child is given a “starter” to a picture that will then become the front of a greeting card. They will then write a nice message inside and give the card to someone special!
Encourage your students to be as creative as possible and dream up any design they can using the portion of a picture that has been provided to them. This activity will allow your students to show their individuality and creativity and give them a place to “start” making their Valentine’s Day cards.
There are 12 “Starter” ideas included; rose, heart with arrow, heart lollipop, concentric hearts, message box, envelope, bear, cupcake, candy hearts, balloons, butterflies, and flower stems.
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