Challenge the trumps! – a plenary or starter activity

This plenary or starter was inspired by my recent purchase – a set of Top Trumps cards on the First World War. I have written elsewhere about using Top Trumps cards in lessons but this mainly focused upon creating your own packs rather than using existing packs. Thinking about how to use this potentially engaging resource in an effective non-gimmicky manner, I thought perhaps the best way was to present students with a copy of the card on a PowerPoint slide and ask them questions based on judgements based on the criteria shown on the cards using the knowledge they have gained in the lesson if it was a plenary or if it was a starter then perhaps a card that covered a previous lesson’s content which links to the current lesson.


Such Challenge the Trumps! questions could be –

  • Has the card got it right about [Insert relevant criteria here]?
  • Overall, justify the judgements presented on the Top Trumps Card?
  • Which judgement is the most accurate?
  • Which judgement is the most inaccurate?
  • Which criteria would you remove and what would you replace it with?
  • Has the card got it wrong about?

To save you time, you could have a slide with the Top Trumps card on it with the six question frames above on it – each question is numbered. Then present the slide to your classes. Ask a student to throw a dice and they then have to answer, as a class, the question which corresponds with the number thrown on the dice. A link to an exemplar slide with Top Trumps card is below.

Top Trumps – Challenge!

Alternatively, if there are no Top Trumps cards that fit your topic, you can always make your own and frameworks for this can be found on my first Top Trumps blog post on this site. This may help you explain the task and outline what the criteria is and what the judgements mean [for example – are they rated out of ten, twenty or one hundred].

Why was the Conservative Party dominant in the period 1918 and 1931 lesson resources

These lesson resources designed for an A Level cover the history of the Conservative Party in the 1920s and up to 1931. Ideal for some of the new courses available at A Level from September 2015.

Conservative Party dominance between 1918 and 1931

Conservative Party dominance between 1918 and 1931 worksheet

Visual hexagons

I am an unashamed admirer of hexagons in the classroom. Hexagon activities (which can be found elsewhere on this blog) promote deeper and independent thinking on any topic as well as focus on different elements when answering a specific, exam focused question. They encourage students to make links between different elements of a topic and forces them to e plain and employ higher order skills. 

With such an activity, some students can find hexagons a challenge – especially Key Stage 3 and less able students. This is because the very skills hexagons encourage are higher order ones that students can struggle with. As a result, I have been thinking about modifiying hexagon activities to make them more accessible to all students without diluting the outcome of sharpening students’ higher order skills set. Coupled with this I have experimenting with a variety of visual resources, such as creating comic strips and word clouds – some of which you may have seen elsewhere on the blog. 

Putting these two together, I have experimented with usual visual hexagons. I create them using the Moldiv app, as recommended by Mark Anderson (@ICT Evangelist). I give my students a fixed hexagon pattern like the one below with images relating to a central question or topic in each hexagon. Usually, I give students an A5 size copy of the hexagon pattern so they can stick it in their exercise book and write next to it.


Firstly, students must identify the images and how they relate to the central question. The image can represent not only a specific person or event but also a larger point that may summarise an area or bigger aspect which link to the set question. This can be part of a starter exercise in a lesson. Once students are clear about each image, students can then complete the main task which is to explain each link between the images where the sides of the hexagons touch. To add competition and engagement, this can be completed in pairs under a time limit. Once the time runs out, there can be a class discussion where each pair share their links and students can fill in any links they have missed or write improved ones from others. 


This task can be extended by asking the class extension questions to promote thinking, such as – 

What other images can fit in the middle of the hexagon pattern?

What other images could be used in the pattern?

If you had to replace one image from the hexagon pattern, which one would you remove?

Once students have completed the visual hexagon task a few times, you want to place greater challenge, freedom and independence by giving students blank hexagon patterns for them to fill in on a given question or topic. Alternatively, visual hexagon tasks can also be used for –

Revision activities – reviewing a topic and preparing students for an exam in an active and engaging way.

Plenary – summarising learning in a lesson and encouraging students to demonstrate their progress utilising higher order explanation skills.

Planning an essay – visual hexagons can be used to prepare students for a specific exam question. 

These visual hexagon activities create engagement in lessons and can provide students with a visual learning aid which gives the hooks to prompt memory as well as attractive summary of a topic or question within a students’ notes.

Find below an excellent example of a student’s work on a visual hexagon exercise, explaining the links and exhibiting higher order thinking to an outstanding level.


The impact of the Great Depression on American society and the economy lesson resources

These lesson resources focus on the impact of the Great Depression on the American economy and society and has the usual starter, plenary, main and extension tasks with a PowerPoint presentation and worksheet.

Great Depression and US society

Social consequences of the Great Depression worksheet

Why did William win at Hastings? – Lesson resources

These lesson resources focus upon a lesson enquiry on why did William win the Battle of Hastings. The resources include a PowerPoint presentation with key tasks, starter and plenary, a card sort for the first activity looking at the reasons and evidence for why William won at Hastings and a printable burger paragraph which students can use to help them scaffold their writing, taken from the School’s History Project’s new book Making Sense of History – 1066-1485 by Ian Dawson, Neil Bates, Alec Fisher and Richard McFahn which inspired much of this enquiry.

William wins at Hastings

Burger paragraph

Why did William win the Battle of Hastings in 1066 card sort

How did Harold Godwinson die? lesson resources

These lessons resources, for a Key Stage 3 class, focus on a source investigation on the question – How did Harold Godwinson die? The resources include five source analysis squares for the main lesson task, a PowerPoint presentation containing lesson content, tasks, a starter and a plenary – which can be in a separate file as a speech bubble exercise.

Death of Harold II

Harold SPeech 2

Death of Harold – Source evaluation 5

Death of Harold – Source evaluation 4

Death of Harold – Source evaluation 3

Death of Harold – Source evaluation 2

Death of Harold – Source evaluation 1

Henry Ford and mass production lesson resources

These lesson resources are for a GCSE lesson on Henry Ford and mass production looking at the key features of mass production and its impact. The PowerPoint presentation contains key information, a starter, extension tasks and a plenary or home learning activity as well as a worksheet containing two note making tasks. Also there is a caption exercise which can be used as a home learning opportunity.

How did Henry Ford change the world worksheet

Mass production