How to Use Monopoly in a Classroom

Close-up of a Monopoly board.
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The board game Monopoly is a creative tool for classroom management and instruction. Even children who are too young to understand the business and property-acquisition goals of the game enjoy marching their tokens around the board. Educators can use the structure and format of Monopoly to create an effective prop for teaching many concepts.

1 Educational Exercises

Elementary-school teachers can create a Monopoly-inspired board game on a white or poster board, listing educational exercises in place of property locations, such as "practice times tables," "recite spelling words" or "review vocabulary definitions." You don't need Monopoly money to play. Assign a certain time to play the game every day or play during transitional periods between subjects. Allow two or three students to roll the dice every game session -- keep track of dice-rollers so that every student gets a chance to roll during the week. The class as a whole must practice whatever skill the token lands on, indicated by the roll. Keep track of the token's location at the end of each session, so you can continue moving from that square the next time you play. Add humor and creativity to the game by having squares that say "Do 20 jumping jacks," "Practice patting your head and rubbing your stomach" or "Play a quick game of Simon Says."

2 Reward System

Second- through eighth-grade teachers can create a bulletin board display in the shape of a Monopoly game to use as a reward system. Label the properties with streets and local attractions in your area -- specific names don't matter for the rewards, and students don't need any Monopoly money to participate. Have students create individual tokens, such as thumb tacks with their pictures attached, to use to march around the board. Allow students to move one space for a completed homework assignment, two spaces for a quiz or test grade between 80 and 90 percent and three spaces for a score above 90 percent. Every time a student makes it around the board and passes "Go," she receives a special reward, such as a new pencil or a free homework night. You might also instruct everyone to move one space forward as a reward for good classroom behavior, such as following directions or cleaning up after arts and crafts. Don't include a space titled "Go to Jail" or "Jail" on the board.

3 Rainy-Day Activities

Elementary and middle school teachers can use the design and format of Monopoly to create a list of indoor activities for rainy, cold or snowy days when students can't go outside for recess or lunch. Label each square with a specific activity, such as checkers, watercolor painting, tic-tac-toe, a computer game, building blocks, puzzles or coloring books. Students don't need Monopoly money to play, but you might create "Community Chest" cards that say "invite a friend to play with you," "get a cushion from the reading center" or "choose any game you want." Have each student roll three dice at once, so there are more possible places to land on the game board. You might allow students to roll once every 10 minutes, so they don't have to stick with the same activity the entire period.

4 Original Monopoly Rules

High-school business, social studies and economics teachers might play standard rules of Monopoly to help students learn about budgeting, finance, property value, the stock market and taxes. Divide your class into groups of four to six students each, and play the game for four class periods in a row. You'll need a complete Monopoly game for each group. Have each group choose a banker and a property manager to divvy out cards and money and record statistics at the end of each class period. Students need records to show where they left off so they can continue the following day. At the end of the four days, have each student tally up his net worth. You might reward the student with the highest net worth with a monopoly-themed coffee mug or magnet.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.