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].

Create your own cigarette card activity

One of my more hidden hobbies of the past was buying full sets of original cigarette cards which were ubiquitous in the first half of the twentieth century. Indeed, I have a framed full set of the cigarette card series, Kings and Queens of England, from 1936 hanging in my front room. As many of you will know there were cigarette card series on many subjects many of which related to the curriculum taught in schools, such as the First World War and literary figures.


With this mind, I thought it would be a good idea for an activity in class, or set as a homework task, for students to create their own cigarette card on an aspect of their learning. The activity, like the cigarette card, would have two sides – both of which are important and tap into different skills. Students would have to produce a two sided cigarette card.


One side would contain the visual representation of what the card is about. Here students would have to consider how they would visually represent the subject of their card. Would it be positive or a negative impression they would want to create? On the reverse side of the card would have a short description or history of the subject of the card. Here you could place a word limit because of the space limitations provided by the card. This would test students language and communication skills in trying to convey information with a message in a limited amount of words.

Here is a PowerPoint slide that illustrates the key features of a typical cigarette card which you could use with your students.

Create your own cigarette card

Variations in applying this activity could be –

– Giving each child a separate figure, aspect or item to design a cigarette card for so that the class create their own series of cards which could be then displayed.

– When setting the activity, give the students a viewpoint which they need to convey in their card. For example, show Charles I as a hero.

– Show students a genuine cigarette card and ask them to identify its message and opinion on the subject.

Of course, I should make it clear that with this activity I am not advocating smoking but rather using the popular hobby of the past – in this case, collecting cigarette cards rather than smoking – and this should be made clear when using this activity with your students.

Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany lesson resources

This lesson is for GCSE students studying the Modern World History course and focuses upon the events and reasons why Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. This lesson naturally follows on from my lesson resources of Germany and the Great Depression.

The resources include a PowerPoint presentation which contains a word cloud starter, the key content, brief overview of main lesson activity and a My Brain plenary. The accompanying Word document contains the main lesson activity which is a chart based exercise with an explanation table.

Hope this helps!

Hitler becomes Chancellor

Hitler becomes Chancellor worksheet

Making Wanted posters – an easy to set up plenary

A slightly longer plenary is the wanted poster task in which students have to design a wanted poster in the style of the Wild West highlighting the most important feature of the lesson and why. For example, in a lesson on 1920s USA prosperity a student designed a wanted poster for Mass Production which was wanted for causing wealth and more people able to buy a car.