I just wanted my students to at least remember a few items/people/events of THEIR choosing so that they would have something that THEY could remember and a top five of their own became a simple way of getting that across to them. I never graded the work unless they did not do it so generally they did do the work. Since they chose to do the work, they tended to remember it much better and longer that something I forced on them.
This very simple task became one of their favorites over time – they got what they thought I wanted and I got WHAT I DID WANT over time – a WIN/WIN project for both.
Most stories/chapters have at least 5 items that can be ranked which masts this assignment so universally great for any subject/topic/use. I think that's why I came to really like using this as an end of chapter assignment in my history classes over the years.