Having students simulate life during the Great Depression proved to be a lesson in experiencing history.
At Emerald High School, shabbily clad students sat in boxes with signs reading “Starving” for their Great Depression simulator project. The project based learning assignment has been done for several years in social studies teacher Karen Teague’s class. Students must research and put themselves in the position of someone living in the Great Depression.
Students filmed the presentations this year to share with staff at C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia.
“They’re going to see what we did because they’re trying to start PBLs at their school,” Teague said. “So we try to change it a little bit every year, add a new element to it, but it really depends on what the students are interested in how it kind of works together.”
Some of the activities included pretending to trade shoes, coats, and socks for apples, and standing in line for soup. Students were able to understand how it was for people during that time to live in extreme poverty.
“It helps them to think outside of their own experiences and to put themselves back in history in a meaningful way to think about the blessings they have in their own life, as far as what they have on a day-to-day basis, and compare that to how little people existed on back then,” Teague said. “When they can experience it themselves, it makes it more real to them — when they can remember the cardboard box and running out of bread on the bread line. Even though it’s just a small glimpse, it’s still enough to put an experience with facts.”