Saturday, January 26, 2013

Teaching Economics with PlayDough

My class is studying Africa.  We have talked about the geography of the continent, the history of the continent, the landforms of the continent, the animals and plants of the continent, the arts of the continent and the economic factors of the continent.  Of all of these concepts, economic factors were the hardest for my students to understand.  In an effort to help my students understand some of the basic concepts of economics, we played a game this week called Snakes and Donuts.  (I cannot claim this idea, I picked it up from a county workshop a long time ago.)  Here’s how you play:Teach economic principles like supply and demand and value to elementary school students with the game Snakes and Donuts
1.)  You will need:  playdough - the more colors of playdough you can use, the better the game goes, unshaprened pencils or markers and a timer.
2.)  Students will play in multiple rounds. Each round will have different rules. Play each round as many times as possible before moving on to the next round.
3.)  During each round, students will use the playdough to create snakes – which must be as long as the unsharpened pencil or markers, and donuts – which is a complete snake wrapped around to make a circle.
Teach economic principles like supply and demand and value to elementary school students with the game Snakes and Donuts
Teach economic principles like supply and demand and value to elementary school students with the game Snakes and Donuts
4.)  You can change rounds as quickly or as slowly as possible.  You can play all on one day, or play one round a day, depending on your schedule.
5.)  After students get the general concept, you can introduce different point values for different size snakes and donuts, or different colors of playdough.  My students then moved on to a 2 minute round – 1 minute of trading and 1 minute of creating.  Students can also play rounds where they work in pairs or groups.
Teach economic principles like supply and demand and value to elementary school students with the game Snakes and DonutsTeach economic principles like supply and demand and value to elementary school students with the game Snakes and Donuts
6.)  After each round, stop to talk about student and teacher observations.  This is the time to introduce that economic vocabulary:  natural resources, human resources, trade policies, supply and demand, value etc.

For some suggested rounds, download my Snakes and Donuts Instruction sheet from Google Docs for free.
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources