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Making Money: World Economy Twist

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This is a game I've witnessed and used with a company course in Ha Noi, Vietnam.
The Object: To "make" as much money as possible.

Lesson Goal: To demonstrate the world economy through an economic model-- the game is the model.

Materials (for about 12-16 students, you want 3 or 4 in a group-- 4 teams): A4 paper, scissors, colored or lead pencils, rulers, protractors, four large envelopes.

Preparation: In envelop 1 put a three sheets of paper, two scissors, two rulers, three colored pencils and one protractor. In envelope 2 put do the same and add or subtract a tool of your choosing. In envelope 3 put only ten sheets of paper, a colored pencil. In envelope 4, put one piece of paper, one pencil, one ruler.

a) Draw a triangle, a square, and a rectangle on the board. As a warmer, tell students they're going to play a game and ask if they know what the game will be about. Give them hints. Elicit the idea of "making money." Ask them how they make money?
b) Show them some paper, scissors, and instruments (but not the ones in the envelopes). Demonstate to the students how they will make money. Draw a square to 4x4 inches and cut it out. Their money will be in the shapes on the board. The money is to be measured to your exact measurements (I'm from the states and don't know metric but you get the idea). Also assign dollar amounts to the money:
*squares 4" x 4" = $50
*rectangles 4" by 6" = $75
*triangles each side 3" (isoceles?) $100
*Have all $AMOUNTS and MEASUREMENTS on board
c) Instruct students that the money is to be the exact measurement or it's no good at the BANK (TEACHER)-- you'll be the BANK measuring it and keeping score on the whiteboard (if you have an assistant it would be good, maybe assign another student to assist in measuring). Crumple up bad money-- money with imprecise measurements-- and throw it in the trash for effect. Also instruct the teams to put their team number on the money (it gets confusing).

d) Distribute the envelopes. Teams 1 and 2 should start working immediately and 3 and 4 will probably complain to you that they don't have all the tools. Tell them simply to make money. They may get upset and that's part of the game. T4 can make some money but only certain kinds. T3 is missing essential tools but has an abundance of resources, paper. The money that is the easiest to make will be made first-- squares and rectangles. When you-- the BANK-- starts checking money record the money made on the board for everyone to see-- Team 1, Team 2, Team 3, Team 4.

What is supposed to happen? trade will begin to take place. The Team with only paper will trade some of its paper for some tools. The Superpowers with everything will decide they can trade a tool for some paper.

***When the BANK decides it has to many squares's the price on squares will drop to a number of your choosing and the price on the scarce triangle should shoot up.

Let them make money for a while. Keep notes on how the teams are doing, how they react, bring up any observations in the followup discussion.

Discussion: Ask them how they felt and if they felt it was unfair. Ask what they did when they realized they didn't have all the tools, or ran out of resources.

Results of this game may vary-- much depends on the materials. Terms this can lead into are supply and demand, inflation, third world country, superpower, trade, etc.

Dave Crimaldi
[email protected]

If this works for you, let me know.

I tried this with a conversational English group here in Colorado. It was amazing! Great idea, Dave! In a bow to the current times (when I write this, the U.S. is still in Iraq), I added a twist to the game that you might want to try.

In the fourth envelope, I placed only 2-3 pages of paper, but a bunch of stickers. I told the groups that any money with the special seal (the stickers) would double in value. After they took out the contents of their envelope, they quickly looked for the stickers, but of course, only Team 4 had them. This situation immediately started the trading. In the end, Team 4 had everyone making money for them.

The result was an amazing conversation (in English) about counties with only one natural resouce and how their economies develop, as well as the responsibility (if any) of rich countries to poor countries.

Try this activity. It really works!

Karen Grassi
Colorado Springs, Colorado

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