In the POTLUCK MARCH game, children will learn about accessibility to food resources. Lack of access or limited access to food can cause inequalities and challenges in our daily life. Children will learn about how different social classes have different levels of nutrition, and that it can affect other aspects of their lives (work, school, etc...). Through this game, children are encouraged to help out and share what they have, giving them a can-do attitude towards world hunger.
Printables (food cards, steps), basket / container for the finish line
6-12 years old, in group, in the classroom, indoor or outdoor, at home
Understand inequality: Today, it is essential for children to understand the full extent of inequality. Through this game, they will be introduced to the concept of privilege and learn how random it could be: people can advance through life for reasons other than competence.
Perform simple addition and subtraction: Executing calculations, no matter how simple, can be challenging using pen and paper. It is only when students need to calculate something in real life that they really grasp the process. Providing activities through which students can perform calculations without it being the main objective teaches them how it can be easily integrated into every life and activity.
Categorize foods according to nutritional value: It is important to teach children to choose the right foods independently from their parents' direct influence. Becoming aware of the different nutritional values of different types of food is the first step towards establishing this independence.
Design a solution for unequal access to food: It is important for children to learn to identify a problem when it rises and to initiate a search for possible solutions. Privilege and inequality are the types of problems with which children might not be familiar unless they experience them at firsthand. Through this exercise, children get a chance to observe, analyze, and contribute to the problem of inequitable access to food. They can also learn that their contributions can help save a life or at the very least, less fortunate people advance in their journey.
Game narrative: In this game, each player will be provided with a random quantity of food which gives them a certain amount of energy (noted on a number card), allowing them to take a certain number of steps to move forward toward the finish line. Inevitably, some players will not make it to the finish line, so they will learn that underprivileged children do not have the same opportunities as others to advance in life. Consequently, the players who have an abundance of energy resources (a higher number of allowed steps on their card) can share them with others to help them advance. The goal is to trace down the competition and cooperation strategies and see if children will work together to give way to everyone to make it to the finish line. Sharing and splitting points trains also algebra - addition and subtraction.
The players' ultimate goal is to get as many of them to the finish line and combine their total points in order to make a contribution to a cause (in this game this is world hunger, but there could be other examples: planting trees, animal protection, cancer research, art conservation, or any other cause relevant to the audience). The bigger the number of energy points collected at the finish line, the bigger their contribution will be.
This game can be personalized (by changing the goal, the steps, the cards into other categories, etc.).
This game can also be played in teams: instead of having the whole group play on one map, the players can be divided into two teams who play simultaneously and try to collect more points at the end. This way the two teams can represent two "worlds" that are trying to beat world hunger, and the team who gathers more points would be more successful.
How do the players earn energy points? The game is composed of 3 rounds: during each round, each player draws a card at random and gets a type of food with a nutritional value between 0 and 5 (For example, "Homemade spaghetti with a salad: 5 points", "A bowl of plain rice: 3 points", "Nothing: 0 points"). This nutritional value is the number of energy points the player receives i.e., the number of steps they can move forward.
Game setup: There are 10 steps between the start and the finish line (step 10 is the finish line). A basket/container is placed at the finish line for all the players who reach the finish line to put their cards in. The setup can look different according to available space and other preferences. The requirements are to have a total of 10 steps and to have enough space at each step for more than one player (in case several of them reach the same number of steps in the same round).
The game is composed of three rounds.
During each round, each player picks one card at random and moves forward the number of steps indicated on the card.
Whenever someone reaches the finish line, they put all their cards into the finish line basket (or the "potluck").
NOTE: Even if a player reaches the finish line before the third round, they still get to draw a third card and either put it into the basket or give them to someone else to reach for the finish line.
Only the players who reach the finish line can add their points to the basket i.e., the total funds raised for the chosen cause.
The points of the players who do not reach the finish line by the end of round 3 do not count.
The option to share points is not introduced at the beginning of the game. Throughout the game (usually between the first and second round), either the players will ask if they have the option to do so, or the teacher can bring it up while discussing privilege with the students. Once it is discussed, an additional rule is added to the game: you can share your points with other players.
Point sharing rules:
The player is only allowed to share the points from the current round, i.e., the player cannot share points that they have already used from another round. In other words, players can share only the points on the card they just drew.
The player has the choice to share all or part of the points they have, e.g., if a player picks a card with 5 energy points, they can either take 5 steps for themselves, give away all 5 steps, or share some of them with others (e.g., keep 2 and give 3), even share with more than one player (e.g., give 1 step to a player, 3 steps to another player, and keep 1 step).
Even if a player shares their points, they have to keep the card with them till the end.
Role of the teacher and game organisation:
Set up the game
Explain the rules
Be the card dealer
Moderate the discussion about privilege vs. merit
Introduce the idea of sharing points in case the students do not get there on their own
Personalize the game in different ways:
Change the food on the food cards (maybe introduce vegan options, local dishes, etc.) depending on the audience.
Change the game set up to represent different stages in life (or other ideas) instead of the number of steps.
Choose a cause that is relevant to the students for the virtual fund that the finish line basket represents.
Round 1 - Starting point
Each player draws a card and moves forward the number of steps indicated on the card. The players get turns to draw cards in random order. The teacher then asks all the players to look around and see where everyone is. The teachers then start a discussion by asking "what did each player do to deserve being where they are now?". It is relevant to introduce the concept of privilege, and any other ideas that come up during the discussion related to this issue.
Round 2 - Moving forward
Each player draws a card and moves forward the number of steps indicated on the card, but now, the teacher starts with the player(s) who is/are ahead and then proceeds in decreasing order to the player(s) who has/have the least steps. This order represents the privilege that already privileged people get in their lives. Yet, this is not narrated to the students but left for them to feel it. It is up to the players to notice (or not) that the teacher acts in that order. (If the idea to share points has been introduced, the students have the choice to share the points they received during their turns) Once again, the teacher asks everyone to look around and see where every player stands. Another discussion can rise up at this point if there is a need.
Round 3 - Reaching the finish line
Each player draws a card and moves forward the number of steps indicated on the card. The teacher is still going in decreasing order from the most advanced in steps to the least.
(If the idea to share points has been introduced, the students have the choice to share the points they received during their turns. If not, the teacher may wish to do so now.)
The teacher then asks the players at the finish line to count the total number of points collected in the basket.
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Topic 1 - Poverty and equality
The topic of world poverty and hunger are very tightly related to inequality in resource distribution and privileges for people. To get supported in moderating a discussion about these subtle topics you may wish to read:
To enhance further children's understanding of poverty and hunger, resource distribution and privileges, you may wish to refer to other Unplugged quests, such as Cookies and Peace, Poverty-free game collection, Peace Magic Grid, Equal, Form Factor
Topic 2 - Addition and subtraction, Strategy
To further children's mathematical skills in a fun way you may wish to refer to other Unplugged quests such as Cookies and Peace, Binary counting, etc. To further children's strategic thinking in a fun way you may wish to refer to Reroute a better world, The Perfect City, Pop-up City of the Future, Farm in the City, Brain Twister, etc.
Topic 3 - Nutrition
To help children realize the importance and elements of healthy nutrition you may refer to other Unplugged quests, e.g. Cookies and Peace, etc. To animate your classes in teaching nutrition to children you may wish to refer to: