Board game teaches students in classroom

About 100 fifth-graders, at Walnut Creek Elementary School, took part in a tournament of sorts using the board game, Monopoly.

About 100 fifth-graders, at Walnut Creek Elementary School, took part in a tournament of sorts using the board game, Monopoly.

Chandler Drucker appeared focused on the game as others around him were abuzz with activity, focused on their individual performances in a board-game tournament at Walnut Creek Elementary School, in McDonough.

“I’ve learned how you can lose money and gain money,” said Drucker, 11. “I try to buy all of the property I can.”

Drucker said he has learned new strategies for playing the board game, Monopoly, which has become one of his favorite pastimes — next to skateboarding, biking, and playing the guitar.

The youngster recently joined about 100 other fifth-graders in the Walnut Creek cafeteria to take part in a Monopoly tournament, designed to help teach students a few components of economics.

“This is our first year doing this,” said Kamisha Wiley, special education teacher and co-teacher at Walnut Creek.

Wiley said she was struck by the challenge of how to make a class unit on “monopolies and bankruptcies” understandable and interesting to students.

“They weren’t understanding the concept of monopoly in industry, or bankruptcy,” she said. “And it was kind of boring for them.”

Wiley said she and her colleagues at the school thought up the idea to host a sort of Monopoly tournament.

“In a standards-based classroom, students are expected to learn in a variety of ways,” she said. “A great way to learn a skill is hands on. Students will learn many standards from this one activity. Monopoly will give them a better understanding of bankruptcy, economic boom, and money as it relates to math and social studies.”

Wiley said the teachers were able to achieve the objective by preparing the students leading up to the mock tournament, held Jan. 12-13. In class, she said, the students learned vocabulary words and studied some concepts of microeconomics, in order to better understand how to play the game.

The co-teacher noted that the process in which students learned to play the game of Monopoly also was useful in helping prepare them for this spring’s state assessments in math, reading, and writing.

Wiley said the winner of the tournament would have the most assets — cash and properties — and like the other students would have a better grasp of how parts of the economy work.

“I thought it was very successful, and I think the kids learned a lot,” said Wiley. “We’re definitely going to do this again next year. The fourth-grade class has seen this, and they are excited about it.”