I used to find the idea of money, supply and demand, prices, market price fluctuation, share trading etc. difficult to help students understand. That was until I developed a game that students can play to develop this understanding.
I created several items out of what I had in the class and set up something akin to a “Ye Olde’ market” with desks:
- Wheat (Rolled up paper with the ends shredded)
- Stone (From outside)
- Flour (White sandwich bags with paper inside-I did real flour first up=mess=lesson learned= use paper)
- Grain (Brown sandwich bag with paper inside)
- Jewels (Colourful maths blocks)
The item list can be as varied and interesting as you wish.
Students are broken into two groups:
Share the goods out among the stall holders and money out between the traders.
Group one are stall holders and the goal of their game is to make as much money as possible.
Group two are the traders they are given a certain amount of money (monopoly money would do) and the goal of their game is to buy all the items from the set item list. (Create the list and write it on the board)
Once the set item list is obtained by one group the game stops and you decide the two winners:
- Group one the one with the most money
- Group two the group that attains the items first
The learning here is all in the discussion. Talk about tactics, success and failure and reasons why. Talk about prices and why some items cost what they did.
For the second round, change the amount of items required for a victory. Discuss how this might affect the prices.
The great thing about this game is first and foremost it is really engaging as the students love to play and barter. This game also brings up something different every game. Allow students freedom after a couple of rounds, to merge, form companies, alliances and see how it affects the market, have just two stall holder and allow them to collude on prices.
Enjoy and good learning!