Four Aces

Learning focus:   Students try and think of anything they can remember from a lesson, or previous topic to stay in the game.

Benefits:   A great way to see how much your class can remember the next day or at the end of a class, gets students up and out of their chairs – perfect for a sleepy class or slow Monday morning, allows for quick assessment of how well you are doing your job!

Timing:   5 – 10 minutes.  Best at the beginning of a class or the end, but no reason why it couldn’t be done as breather in the middle.

Equipment:   A deck of cards and some blue tack.

Planning time:   Once you have set up the game and explained to students, zero planning required!


  1. Take out the four aces from a deck of cards and stick each one on a different wall or in a different corner.
  2. Tell students which topic they must provide facts for (e.g. if done at the end of class, could be the topic you have just covered, or the topic from the previous class).
  3. Students must run/walk-in-a-calm-fashion to one of the four aces.
  4. Using the rest of the deck, flick through and stop on a random card.
  5. Show the students the card, all those who are at the corresponding ace are out, UNLESS they can give a fact about the topic you set them (no books allowed!).
  6. Students are out, and must sit down, if:
    • they cannot think of a fact within 5 seconds
    • they repeat a fact a student has already said (during that game)
    • the fact they state is incorrect or off topic
  7. Keep playing until only one or two students are left.
  8. Praise the class on how much they have remembered!



  • It helps to be dramatic, make a show of presenting the cards or let the suspense build occasionally.
  • Don’t worry if the facts at the beginning of the game are basic and a bit lame!  They will soon run out of those and have to be more detailed.
  • I count down from 5 as soon as all students have said their fact and they know to move quickly (not even really 5 seconds).
  • Let the class help you decide whether the fact is acceptable sometimes (not every time, the game will drag), especially if it is questionable, or if it is particularly clever… see who disagrees and who agrees (more formative assessment!).
  • Occasionally during a class without warning, I will count down from 5, and the students will know to run to an ace!  Keeps them on their toes; and an excellent way to wake up a sleepy class.
  • If we are getting close to 10 minutes or the end of class, I will tell them there are 2 or 3 more rounds, then whoever left is the winner, even if there are ten of them!


Thanks to Maggie Wighton for sharing this game with me.


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