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This simulation shows students the process that early humans collectively went though when engaging in the Agricultural Revolution--that is, the change that occurred about 12,000 years ago when humans transitioned from nomadic hunting and gathering into a settled farming lifestyle. The simulation doubles as an opportunity to introduce vocabulary about the Birth of Civilization, and experience the struggles of hunting and gathering. It will emphasize the importance of surplus food production that is only possible in farming communities. Students act as hunters when searching the room for hidden terms (crumpled up pieces of paper). The idea is that some terms will be easy to find and define (or “butcher” when looking them up in a textbook/dictionary), but the frustration experienced when trying to find a definition that is not in the textbook will encourage some students to “change” their lifestyle and adopt a farming economy. Once a couple of students get frustrated, tell them to switch to farming. The full term sheets represent the farms that our farmers they work on, each term representing a crop. Tell farmers to get right to work and start finding/filling-in term sheets with out going to “hunt” for any more terms.
Mix-in a few different scenarios. For hunter-gatherers, tell them that a lion attacked them, got into friendly-fire by a fellow hunter, or can’t find any animals (write with their non-dominant hand). For farmers, tell them that their field has been attacked by a plague of locusts (write with their non-dominant hand).
Students will quickly catch on that farming is more efficient. Emphasize that it is not an “easier” lifestyle to farm. More time is required, but it is less dangerous and more productive. This is because farmers produce a surplus—the ability to produce more food than what’s needed. The surplus is a necessity for establishing farming communities of settled peoples which lead to the birth of civilization.