OBJECTIVE: To give students an opportunity to experience the inequity of the world hunger situation.
MATERIALS NEEDED: M&M's.
NOTE: This activity is designed for a group of 25 students. Adjust the sizes within the smaller groups to fit your class size. Keep proportions approximately the same.
PROCEDURE: Introduce the activity by saying something like:
"We live in a country which tries to make things as fair as possible. As little children we feel that everything must be fair, and if its not its a catastrophe. As we grow older, we learn that life often is not fair, but most people continue to believe that fairness is a worthwhile goal to strive for."
Divide the class into groups according to the chart below. Have the students move into clusters in different parts of the classroom so that each group is visually distinct.
Announce "I have 100 M&M's to pass out. How shall I distribute them?" Listen to suggestions, and make suggestions for distributing them in an equitable way. Elicit from the students the importance of dividing the M&M's fairly.
Then announce suddenly "No, I have decided how I will divide them up. My decision is final." Proceed to pass out the M&M's to the groups in the order listed in the chart. As you pass out the candy, count out each piece aloud (involve the kids in the counting, too).
Listen to complaints or protests. "Life's not fair". Explain that this exercise is an illustration of the world food situation: Many countries with a large population have small amounts of food available, while some countries with a relatively small population have an overabundance of food.
Discuss how the US might fit into this illustration. (While this activity is not designed to be accurately representative of international food consumption and population ratios, group #3 can be seen to represent the US in a general way.
The M&M distribution should remain as is. The wealthy groups should share with undernourished groups only if they think of it themselves, and the teacher should not come to the rescue with extra M&M's.
Students Number of M&M's
(enough so that there's plenty for all at the end of the game)
Now make one more group with all of the rest of the students from the class, make sure that it is at least double in size of the next larger group (adjust the other groups so this ratio works. This final group has to be the largest group) Then give only 1 M&M to this group (yes only 1) And have all all the children count with you as you make this distribution. (make a big deal out of only 1 M&M for the entire group)
Have fun and explore as many world issues as you can think of.
Note: You can redistribute at the end; take the extras that the single student has and give out to the large country, and eat the rest. Leave the 2 per in group #2 - if anyone catches that, say again "Life's not fair!" Introduce sharing in the discussion, and make a show of sharing ONE M&M. "See how generous she/he is?" As we debrief, note that the "leader" of the big country got to eat the one shared M&M - sometimes when we try to share it only goes to a small part of the country, and not to everyone who needs it.