Comparisons with Top Trumps

I used to love playing Top Trumps when I was a kid and at one point I had a pretty large collection which I rashly swapped for an Adam and the Ants album.  After rebuying my favourite pack on eBay it dawned on me that they could actually be pretty handy for teaching comparisons in class.

For those unfamiliar with Top Trumps, they are a set of themed cards, for example Cars, Dogs, Footballers, etc. Each card has a picture from the set along with a few statistics. So, for example with a Car themed set, the statistics might include Top Speed, Engine Capacity and Horse Power.

The cards are dealt out and a player is selected to start. The player in control of the round chooses one of the attributes from his top card and reads it out, the other players compare their own cards and the one with the highest value gets the cards and adds them to their deck. The winner takes control for the next round.

Take for example, these two superhero cards:


If I held Robin, I might think that Intelligence 6 was a decent attribute, however when I came to compare with the other player who was holding The Joker, he has Intelligence 7 and so I would lose the round and my card and my opponent would get to choose the attribute in the next round.

When playing in an ESL classroom, I would make sure that for each round, after the chosen attribute and value has been stated, the players put the cards face up on the desk to be openly compared. Before the round can be won, the player has to state why they have won.

This will produce sentences like:

  • The Joker wins because he is more intelligent than Robin
  • Robin is stronger/faster than the Joker
  • The Joker has better fighting skills than Robin

You might want to limit the game to ten or fifteen minutes before it gets too repetitive, with the winner being the player who holds the most cards when the time is up. If the students are interested in the cards then this can turn into a surprisingly fun and stimulating activity.

Further activities

You could use these cards to practise superlatives too. Simply give pairs sets of three cards and ask them to report the ranking of the cards. For example,

  • The Joker is more intelligent than Robin but Batman is the most intelligent
  • Robin has better fighting skills than The Joker but Wonder Woman has the best skills

You(or your students) could always make and print your own set on an appropriate theme.

You can buy the Superhero Top Trumps from here. But there are plenty other of packs available.



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