Yesterday was a great day. We found out two days ago that my class placed 3rd overall in the school for the toilet paper drive for the needy. (Cindy's class placed 2nd, of course!) So, naturally I brought them doughnuts to celebrate....and celebrate they did. I've never seen students be so excited about a round piece of fried dough. With all that excitement, I decided to take them outside to play a review game. This past week we have been discussing the Cold War and every year I do a simulation activity on McCarthyism so they can understand how irrational the paranoia of Communism was at times. I needed to play a game with groups to do the simulation activity, so we went outside to play the crossing the river game. I set up traffic cones (10) in two seperate lines down the field. Then, I divided the students into two groups and made them hold hands (they thought they were playing "red rover").
The two groups had to cross the traffic cones (the river) to get their entire group across the river. I would ask a review question and the first two people in the line had to answer it. The first group to answer the question correctly got to advance to the next cone. If the group had not successfully gotten at least one student across the river, then the two people in the front of the line had to go to the back of the line as the groups advanced. Here is the fun part: if they answered my question with something ridiculous, (I got Douglas MacArthur as the North Korean leader in the Korean War....) I would kick out one of the cones making it extremely difficult for them to hold hands to get each other across the river. It was hilarious!
So, how did I tie McCarthyism into this activity? I told them at the beginning of the game that I had chosen two traitors (one from each team) to try to get that team to lose the game. When the game was over, I asked them which two people were the traitors. This inspires much paranoia into the group and gets them to pick people for silly reasons. One of the students got picked as the traitor for wearing a hat. (Please note that I work all year on them being respectful of each other. This activity has the opportunity to be hurtful so teach them up front to not say rude things.) It turned out to be the perfect way to introduce McCarthyism and I doubt it will be something they forget for a while! By, Kathleen