Economics Board Game
In this activity, students will learn the fundamental concepts of economics by designing a board game to
teach junior high students some basic economic terms and ideas.
This project will be implemented in four stages. First, students will participate in a discussion
about the nature of economics. Next, students will work in groups to design board games that will
teach the basic concepts of economics to junior high students. Students will then take their board
games to a junior high social studies class and have the younger students play the games. Finally,
students will write an evaluation of the effectiveness of their games as teaching tools.
After completing this project, students will be able to:
• define economics;
• identify the factors of production;
• describe the goal of entrepreneurship;
• explain why scarcity exists;
• discuss the issues that producers must address to distribute resources;
• explain why producers study productivity;
• evaluate sacrifice as an important element of economic choice;
• list the assumptions involved in creating a production possibilities curve;
• explain why future production possibilities might differ from current production possibilities;
• describe the difficulties associated with barter;
• analyze why true self-sufficiency is rare;
• identify the economic benefits of interdependence.
In the course of this project, individual students will:
• participate in a discussion about the basic concepts of economics;
• design a board game that will teach the basic concepts of economics to junior high students;
• teach junior high social studies students how to play the game;
• write an evaluation of the effectiveness of the game as a teaching tool.
• Learning Styles: body-kinesthetic, interpersonal, linguistic, visual-spatial
• Skills Mastery: synthesizing information
Purpose: This activity may be used in combination with teacher-directed lessons for this chapter, as an
enrichment project, or as a performance-based assessment of content mastery.
Suggested Time: Plan to spend about four or five 45-minute class periods on this project. Allow one class
period to introduce the activity and hold a class discussion about the basic concepts of economics. Give
students two class periods to design, create, and play their board games. Set aside one class period for
students to take their games to a junior high class and teach the younger students to play the games. Finally,
allow one class period for students to write and discuss their evaluations.
Scale of Project: To ensure that groups have enough space to work during the game development sessions,
you may wish to reserve an area larger than the classroom, such as the cafeteria or auditorium. The
demonstration of the games at the junior high school should be done in a small-group setting.
Group Size: Students will work in groups of four to complete the project.
Materials: Students will need heavy cardboard, scissors, art supplies, and other appropriate materials to
create their board games.
Resources: Have students use their textbooks, the Internet, the library, and any other appropriate resources
to gather information that would be useful in developing their board games.
Preparation: Some weeks before assigning the project, contact a junior high social studies teacher in your
district and arrange to have your classes visit his or her classes with their completed board games. After
assigning the project, make copies of the Planning Guidelines for each group. You may also wish to make
copies of the Standards for Evaluation form—which is a project-specific rubric—for students to use in
designing and creating their games. In addition, you may wish to display Budget City, Charge It!, and other
economics-related board games to illustrate how economic concepts can be adapted to a game.
1. Give students an overview of the activity by explaining its four stages. Tell them that they will
participate in a discussion about the nature of economics. Next, they will work in groups to design board
games to teach the basic economics concepts to junior high students. They will then visit a junior high
social studies class and teach the students to play their games. Finally, they will write an evaluation of the
effectiveness of their games as teaching tools.
2. Using the Chapter 1 (of your textbook)as a guide, lead students in a discussion of the nature of
economics, stressing basic terms and concepts.
3. Ensure that students understand the following terms: economics, economist, microeconomics,
macroeconomics, consumer, producer, good, service, resource, factor of production, natural resource,
human resource, capital resource, capital good, consumer good, technology, entrepreneurship, entrepreneur,
scarcity, allocate, productivity, efficiency, division of labor, specialization, trade-off, opportunity cost,
production possibilities curve, exchange, barter, money, credit, value, utility, self-sufficiency, and
interdependence. If necessary, have students use the textbook glossary to write the definitions of these
4. Organize students into groups of four and give each group a copy of the Planning Guidelines.
Stress to groups that they should keep their audience in mind while planning their economics
games. Remind them to keep their vocabulary on an appropriate level and not to expect players to have
much prior knowledge of economics. Players should learn about economics through the game; therefore,
the game should introduce the definitions of basic terms and teach the basic concepts of economics.
Encourage groups to create original games, but allow them to base their games—at least in part—on
existing board games with which they are familiar. Display examples of economics related board games—
Budget City and Charge It!, for example—in order to set a standard and to give groups an idea of how
economic concepts might be presented in board-game form.
5. When groups have designed and created working models, have group members play through their games
at least once to check for flaws. Then, if time permits, have each group play another group’s game.
Encourage players to offer constructive criticism of the game to its designers.
6. Next, have groups create the final versions of their games, including the board, pieces, cards,
money, and any other necessary components. Remind groups that they will need to write instructions for
playing the game.
7. Arrange to visit a junior high social studies class in your district. Have your class teach members of the
junior high class how to play their games; then have your students observe the younger students playing
8. To test the effectiveness of the games as teaching tools, have your students spend the last few minutes of
the visit quizzing the players about basic economics concepts. Have each of your students write a report
evaluating the effectiveness of the game based on the junior high students’ responses and their behavior
1. Use the Standards for Evaluation form to help you evaluate students’ games.
2. Additional grades may be based on students’ evaluations.
ECONOMICS BOARD GAME
Your task is to design and create a board game suitable for teaching the basic terms and concepts
of economics to junior high students. Try to create an original and enjoyable game, because you will be
teaching actual junior high students to play it. Remember to keep your vocabulary on a level that is
appropriate for the players. Also, do not assume that they have any prior knowledge of economics. Be sure
that your game helps players to learn the following terms and concepts:
• capital good
• capital resource
• natural resource
• opportunity cost
• consumer good
• production possibilities curve
• division of labor
• factor of production
• human resource
Use your textbook, the library, the Internet, and any other resources that are available to you to learn about
these terms and concepts. When you have settled on the basic concept of your game, create a mock-up
version and play through it as a group at least once to check for flaws. Your teacher may also have you
trade games with another group so that you can offer constructive criticism to improve each other’s games.
Finally, construct the actual game, including all its components and a set of clearly written instructions.
STANDARDS FOR EVALUATION
Board games should be evaluated according to the following standards:
• The game is original and enjoyable.
• The game is exceptionally well designed and executed.
• The game includes a set of clearly written instructions for play.
• The game is an excellent tool for teaching junior high students the basic concepts and terms of economics.
• The game has several original elements and is enjoyable.
• The game is well designed and executed.
• The game includes written instructions for play that are fairly clear.
• The game is a good tool for teaching junior high students the basic concepts and terms of economics.
• The game has some original elements and is enjoyable.
• The game is fairly well designed and executed.
• The game includes adequate written instructions for play.
• The game is an acceptable tool for teaching junior high players the basic concepts and terminology of
• The game is not original and fails to capture players’ interest.
• The game is not very well designed and is poorly executed.
• The game does not include written instructions or it includes a set of poorly written instructions
• The game fails to teach junior high students the basic concepts and terms of economics.