Crawl for power and wealth

Subject: Social studies
Summary: Students learn about the of the wealth distribution in the world through a simulation. The fast paced game helps to build understanding of the relations between money and power, disadvantages and justice, poverty and wealth which is followed by a long debrief and discussion.
Activity length: Duration is 90 minutes (2x45 min)
  • Students develop an understanding of the injustices that result from the unequal distribution of wealth and power and use critical thinking when it comes to the causes and consequences of poverty.
  • Students promote human dignity and justice.

Teacher prepares:

  • 120 chocolate coins (or gold wrapped candies)
  • 4-5 pairs of socks
  • 3 posters describing the 3 main groups: the Have-s, the Have-Not-s, the Have Some-s
  • Questions for debate written on flipchart paper (blackboard)

Classroom must be set up by putting the chairs in a circle with some empty space left in the middle.


Part 1: Explain that this game is a simulation. The participants will distribute the world’s wealth among themselves. The coins do not only stand for money, but they also stand for housing, food, schooling, health care, political influence and more.

Part 2: It is the aim of the game, to get as many coins as possible. There is one rule: it is not allowed to touch any other person at any time during the game. There is a punishment for breaking this rule, e.g. taking 1 to all coins from the rule breaker.

  • There are a number of special players:

o Take 20 of the coins and distribute them to 4-5 of the players.

o Give 4-5 players a pair of socks. They must put the socks over their hands and keep them on until the game is over. Postpone any discussion about the reasons for this to later.

  • Scatter the 100 coins in the middle of the circle: this is the world’s wealth!
  • On the word “go!” all players try to grab as many coins as possible. This only takes 1-2 minutes.
  • After all coins have been collected, ask the players to count their coins. Now ask them to stand and step into the circle one step. Re-seat all players according to how many coins they were able to gather: call out the number and seat them around the circle starting with those without any coins, all the way to the richest player.

Part 3: Remind the players, that the coins represent their wealth and power in the world. The amount of coins they have influences their life strongly. Focus especially on each of the three groups as you read the information out, this can strengthen the personal response to the information.

  • The Have Not-s: participants with 2 or fewer coins: You will have difficulty surviving due to disease, malnutrition, lack of clean water. Many of you starve, many children die. You have inadequate shelter. You have no or lack of education. You have little to nothing to satisfy your basic needs. Your vote counts 0,5.
  • The Have Some-s: participants with 3-5 coins: You are able to meet your basic needs: you have access to basic education, you have adequate food and nutrition, you have health care, you have adequate housing. Your vote counts 2.
  • The Have-s: participants with 6 or more coins: You are able to meet all your basic needs and most of your wants: you have access to basic and higher education (higher schooling, university), you have adequate food and nutrition, you have good health care, you have adequate housing, you have toys, televisions, cars, computers, and other luxury items. Your vote counts 5.

Part 4: Ask the participants to sit together in small groups of 4-5 people, possibly with others in the same economic group: Have-s, Have-Some-s, Have-Not-s. Read out the questions for reflection (also written on flipchart posters for easier understanding and to refer back to later):

  • How do you feel about how you got the coins? How do you feel about how they were divided? Was everybody treated fairly?
  • Who are the haves and have-nots in our world / our country / our school?

After 10 minutes of discussion, ask the participants to share some feelings with the group. Do not discuss, just hear different voices to support the experience.

The group is asked to answer the question: Do you think there should be a re-distribution of wealth and power throughout the world? by going to one of the four corners of the classroom which display one of the signs: DEFINITELY YES, DEFINITELY NO, PROBABLY YES, PROBABLY NO

Participants argue their position while the teacher sits in the middle of the room moving towards the group with the strongest arguments.


Participants sum up their insights, learning, questions they go away with.

Possibly show part of a clip “If the earth were a village”.

Each participant gets one chocolate coin to eat, the rest are given to the group with the strongest arguments.

Additional notes:
  1. The economic situation might not be a subject interesting enough for teenagers or understandable enough for 10 year olds. Consequently, the teacher could also come with several examples/ situations that any family or community has to face as a result of wealth and power.
  2. Shy students might be unwilling to speak in which case they could be rewarded with chocolate coins or given extra time to prepare/write their answers.
  3. There may be aggressive players who can seriously hurt others during the game. Try to prevent any critical situation by repeating the game rules during the scramble or even stopping it for a few seconds.

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