Sunday 4 March 2012

Top Trumps

One of the things a child in the Foundation Stage at school will be expected to learn is the concept of 'higher' and 'lower'. It sounds simple, but being able to recognise whether a number is higher or lower than another is an important basic maths skill. Top Trumps is a brilliant game to play with your children so that they can practice this concept in a fun way.

The basic idea of the game is that you have a selection of cards, each with a different character on it. Each character is given points for a specific set of things, for instance, if the pack had different birds on each card, they may be given points for the beauty of their song, their strength, their size, their flying speed. The cards are shuffled and shared amongst players, who take it in turns to choose one of the scores on their top card. Other players must then look to see if the score, on their top card, and in the same category, is higher or lower. The person whose card has the highest score for the chosen category, wins the cards from that round. The game continues until someone has won all the cards.

We have a Peppa Pig Top Trumps pack because it is a character they all love. It is also a particularly good one because it has only a small number of top trump cards. But, if you have a big pack, consider taking out some of the characters, otherwise young children will find the game takes too long. Also try to make sure you have a pack that includes numbers appropriate to your child's level. There is no point using a pack where the numbers lie between 1 and 100 if your child can only count to 20.

You could even make your own, using whatever characters you think will engage your children best. The best thing about making your own pack is that you can tailor both the number range and character to the child's ability and if you get the children involved in making the pack they will be able to practice writing the numbers, as well as determining how to allocate higher or lower scores to specific things. 'Is an eagle faster or slower than a blackbird? Should an eagle be given a higher score in speed, or lower?'

When the number range of our Peppa Pig pack gets too narrow, we will be making a fairy and a dinosaur pack. The biggest problem will be choosing which pack to use each time.

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