This unique classroom management activity will improve student participation and behavior due to a fun incentive - "End of the World"-type survival. It can be incorporated within the curriculum simply as an enjoyable classroom management and participation activity, or it can also be incorporated within a unit about “Post-Nuclear War”, “The End of the World,” or “Survival.”
I actually used this activity while teaching "Z for Zachariah" and had students write narrative essays in which they survived a post-nuclear environment, similar to the book, and could ONLY use the objects they bought or traded for at the “survival” store. Furthermore, this could also be adapted into a problem-based learning activity.
The first step is to present students with the inventory (handout) of items one would need to survive. The items within the inventory will cost students points. Students may acquire points however the teacher seems fit, yet I awarded points based on attentive reading as well as asking and answering in-depth questions through classroom discussions. On the contrary, the teacher can also take away points during class based on inappropriate classroom behavior. Points can be handed out to students whenever the teacher may desire (at the end of the day, week, etc.).
When the teacher awards students his or her points, students can decide on whether to purchase an inexpensive to average valued item or save their points for a more expensive survival item.
I had utilized a corner of the classroom and created a “survival” store where a few students from each class cashiered the store at the last five minutes of class. I cut out the pictures of each item and taped them to the wall based on its value (60 Points, 40 Points, etc.). Each item also has a certain amount “in stock.” I cut these items out and separated them, which was the longest part of the process. When a student wants to buy an item, they simply receive the small, paper cut-out of the item (probably best for each student to have a plastic bag to keep their items in). There are only a certain amount of items within the inventory and, when an item runs out, students can attempt to trade with their classmates.
In conclusion, I found this to be an excellent classroom management activity that greatly improved student participation and behavior. There are many incentives for students to acquire these items, but the greatest incentive was to acquire the best items for their narrative essays. Secondary skills learned throughout this activity are the value of currency and how to best utilize their currency (points). In addition, students have much fun attempting their hand at negotiation with classmates.
*Note - Cutting out the pictures and having students hold and trade items like trading cards is completely optional, but it will take away the trading aspect. Regardless, it’s still a wonderful activity if you orchestrate the activity without the pictures!
Included within purchase:
Inventory Checklist (55 Survival Items Total)
Single Pictures of Each Survival Item (For Survival Store)
A Classroom Set of Pictures Given to Students (Optional)