Want to transport your kids back into the world of Soviet Russia to experience what life was really like during the reign of the USSR. Help them to truly understand the hardship every day people experienced under Stalin. This activity is standard aligned and actively engages the students as they work through the stations each with a different focus. One station focuses on Work Life and has the students complete factory work and then reflect about their experience, one station focuses on home life and has students attempt to balance a budget with their meager earnings, another station has the students writing a newspaper article under Stalin's rule which results in punishments if they do not make Russia look good. Lastly, the students must vote in an election with highly skewed results. All the while, the Commissar (Teacher) is handing out punishments if the students do not follow the "Soviet Code" - any complaints, wrong doings, making Russia look bad, etc. earns them a level of punishment. If the infraction should be severe enough they can be removed to the Gulag.
I did this activity with 7th Grade Geography students who were learning about Russia's history and they loved it. They were interested, they were engaged, and best of all due the nature of the packets they were responsible for their own learning. The students who complained were issued a "letter" A-D and each corresponded with a punishment. To prevent students from "giving up" I did not reveal the true meaning of the letters until we completed the simulation two days later. This kept them guessing and wondering what it meant, how they earned it, and what to do about it. It worked out to be a wonderful simulation activity. At the end we did a debrief where we went over the packets, talked through the details and what really happened in the USSR vs. what we experienced in class.