Animal Battle – An ESL Card Game for Practicing Comparative Adjectives

Are you looking for some fun games to keep your young learners interested in English? This week’s Spotlight features a set of playing cards with animal names and pictures. Tanya has already shared some fun card games to play with Sprout English’s card sets. Here’s another fun game that you can play to introduce or practice using “would”. This game is also useful for practicing comparative adjectives.

How to Play “Animal Battle: Who Would Win?”

This game is similar to “War”, the card game of chance where players face off and try to collect all of the highest cards from their opponents. The difference between “War” and “Animal Battle” is that Sprout’s playing cards have no numbers! Students have to decide who would win in each battle. They have to use comparative adjectives to win the cards. At the end of the session, one student in the class will be declared “King or Queen of the Jungle”.

1. Print 
Print a few sets of Animal Playing Cards from Sprout’s Games Room and divide your class into pairs. (This game could also be done in groups of four where students work as one pair against another pair.) If there is an extra student, ask for a volunteer to be a park ranger. The teacher must also be a park ranger (referee).

2. Deal
Have your students divide the cards evenly so that all of the cards are dealt. (Each student should have a mix of word cards and animal cards.) Tell your students to gather their cards into a neat face-down pile of cards.

3. Play
To begin the game, both students turn over a card at the same time, just as they would do in a game of “War”.

4. Discuss
The students must study the two animals that have been dealt and answer the question “Who would win?” (in an animal battle). It may be an easy answer (elephant vs. kitten), or they may have to really think about it (elephant vs. hippo). This is where a list of comparative adjectives may come in handy. You can write some adjectives on the board to get your students started, or write them on the board as you hear students using them.

faster ~ bigger ~ stronger ~ wiser ~ smarter ~ hungrier ~ meaner ~ trickier ~ taller ~ bolder 

(Note: Your students may naturally use superlative adjectives in their answers as well. If they do, great!)

5. Win
a) Obvious Winner: If there is an obvious winner in a battle, the person with the stronger/wiser/faster animal card wins by saying: “The hippo would win because he’s bigger.” (You could put this example sentence on the board.) The person with the hippo gets both cards and places them aside to be shuffled back into his deck when all of his cards have been used the first time around. Eventually, one student will likely start to accumulate more cards than the other student.
b) Questionable Winner: If the answer is not obvious, the students must discuss who would win: “The hyena would win because hyenas have bigger teeth than foxes.” OR “The fox would win because foxes are smarter.” If the students can’t agree on a winner of the animal battle, they can request help from a park ranger. The ranger will either settle the dispute or confiscate both cards! (Tell your students that losing cards makes it more difficult to win the class challenge. If they settle their own disputes one of them has a better chance of winning the “title”.)
c) Tie Breaker: If the cards are the same animal (word and picture), the students must hold an “Animal War” (just like in the traditional card game of War). Each student flips over three more cards face down and one face up. Now the students have to decide which face-up animal would win the war. The winner of the war gets all the cards from that play including the face-down cards. Students will need a park ranger to help decide the winner if it’s questionable.

Play continues until one student is out of cards, or until the teacher feels the game has gone on long enough. Whoever has the most cards left in the pair is the winner. Whoever has the most cards left in the whole class is declared the “King or Queen of the Jungle”! If there is a tie in the classroom, challenge those students to have a play-off during a classroom break.

A Follow-Up Story

There is a great series of non-fiction children’s books from Scholastics called “Who Would Win?” by Jerry Pallota. If you are doing a unit on Animals, order some of these books to read in your class, or try to find them in a library. If you don’t have access to the books, look up the titles and put some of them on the board for a discussion: Polar Bear Vs. Grizzly Bear | Lion Vs. Tiger | Whale Vs. Giant Squid. You could also ask your students to shout out random animals and discuss who would win.

Find these cards in the Games Room – Card Games.


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Tara Benwell

Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library, and a contributor to its sister site Sprout English. Tara is the author of an iPad storybook series for kids called Happy Campers Books. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore.

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