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The Trading Game


Before you start

Draw several shapes on two sheets of paper prior to the game, they should be the same shapes, and ascribe a value to each i.e. £50 or £100. Stick one of these sheets on the wall.

Make up several ‘country’ envelopes. These envelopes should contain equipment needed to draw and cut out the shapes, pens, scissors etc.

Ascribe a country to each envelope i.e. USA, Malawi, and ensure the equipment in the envelope matches the wealth of the country. The UK may get scissors, pencils, paper, set square, whereas Uganda may have only some paper and a pencil.

Try to ensure that when you are choosing countries, you do not choose a poorer country that any of the children feel an affinity to. In the two richest countries’ envelopes, place a note telling them that shapes made with plain paper are worth twice as much as those made with lined paper.

How to play

Tell the children that the game will be played in two parts, and the aim is to make as much money as possible. They will make this money by selling the shapes to you, the World Bank, but that the shapes must fit the template you have, which is the second sheet of shapes you prepared. Explain that they can only use the equipment in their envelopes, but they can trade these things with other countries if they wish.

Be prepared to have the children approach you re their lack of scissors, etc. Be firm and say they will just have to do the best they can.

When the children start to bring you their shapes, be harder on the poorer countries than the richer ones: you might accept shapes from the richer ones that are not quite right, but turn down those from poor countries. You should judge this by how the children are reacting and not push the children in the poorer countries too far. Praise their efforts when they do produce shapes.

Halfway through, stop the children and tell them the scores for each country to date, but tell them that you had to stop them right there because although the aim of the game is to make as much money as possible, they are not competing against each other. Explain that they are trying to reach a target, which you give them based on their current score, and they are only one-third of the way there. Say that they can continue to work in separate countries or they can work together, but it is the score of the whole group which is important.

They will usually, though not always, start to work together. If this happens, give them long enough to ensure they have reached the target working co-operatively.

When you judge the time is up, stop them and say that while they tidy up you will add up the final score.

Discussion Points:

Have a discussion about the disparity of equipment, the secret information and the approach of the World Bank.

Ask the young people:

  • How it felt both being part of the more developed countries or the less developed?
  • Why do they think the World Bank was nicer to the rich countries?

Explain that the rich countries fund the World Bank so can make up the rules. Underline that the poor countries worked just as hard, but were often taken advantage of by the richer countries, this point can particularly be made if a rich country has used the paper of a poorer one.

End the game by tell the participants their final score.

Resources Required

Paper (lined and plain), scissors, pencils, rulers, set squares, pre-produced papermoney, sticky tack, A4 envelopes, a watch or clock.


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