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The Price is Right: 1930′s Edition

One popular subject that’s bound to come up in any history class is cost comparison. For example, comparing the cost of a loaf of bread today to what it cost generations ago. This game is great in preparing your students to learn about life during the Great Depression. It’s a game like those found on the ever-popular TV show, “The Price Is Right”, but with a little historical twist to it. The example I use here is for the 1930′s, but clearly you can use whatever era you want. I wouldn’t go any more recent than 25 years ago, as the cost difference would become less dramatic.

-Several large cards
-Five markers
-List of every day items and their prices today and in 1930
(this list can include food items)

Pick several every day objects that were used in 1930 as well as today. Research their price in both eras. On the front of large cards, write down the object (ex. “Candy Bar”) and its price today. On the back of each card, write down the 1930 price. Do this for each card.

Set a table with five chairs, or five desks in the front of the room off to the side at a diagonal (this is so the rest of the class can see what these five students will write). Set several large cards/pieces of paper and a marker at each of their places.

How to Play:
Pick five students at random to come up and sit at the table/desks. Tell the class you are going to hold up a card that has an item written on it, along with it’s current market price. Their job is to guess the price of that item in the year 1930 WITHOUT GOING OVER, and write it down on one of their cards/papers in front of them. They cannot discuss the possible price with each other, and it’s up to you whether or not you want the rest of the class to shout out prices (as done on the TV show). They cannot have the same answers, though. As you ask each student to hold up their price, if another student has that same price listed they must take a second to change it. Once each student has been given a chance to hold up their price, reveal the actual price. The student that has the closest price match (again, WITHOUT GOING OVER) wins the round, and gets to stay for the next round (or gets a treat, etc.).

As for the rest of the class, you can keep them involved in the game as well by having them write down their guesses on their own sheet of paper. Here’s an example of how you can organize it: Guessing Sheet Template
They cannot change their guesses once they write it down, and only ask for the contestant answers once everyone in the class is done writing down their guess. This will allow students to come up with a genuine guess instead of stealing a contestant’s answer. Reward those who get the smallest total difference at the end of the game.

If you need help finding the 1930 prices, you can Google “prices of items in 1930″ and it comes up with possible websites from which you can reap. :) Keep in mind that prices ranged across the country, but we’re just sticking to a general, average price for the game.

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