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New Deal Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

The New Deal had a significant impact on the development of the United States. This lesson outlines New Deal-based games and activities teachers can use in class to reinforce information students have already learned.

FDR's Legacy

While it only spanned a few years in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal had an immense influence on many aspects of the American people, infrastructure, and economy. The activities and games in this lesson can be used after your learners have already studied the facts of the New Deal and have an understanding of its historical importance.

A review of students' current knowledge of the New Deal can serve as a great introductory activity. This activity can help students consolidate their existing knowledge, help to focus their attention on the topic, and provide them with motivation and possible ideas for the other activities.

To begin, divide the blackboard into three sections and write the following at the top of each section:

  • Causes - what led to the New Deal?
  • Details - what was the New Deal?
  • Results - what were the outcomes of the New Deal?
  1. Set a timer for five minutes. Ask students to come up and write down what they know in the appropriate column on the board. Students can write words, phrases, or full sentences. For example, under the 'Causes' column a student could write, 'The Great Depression'.
  2. When time is up, review the information on the board as a class. During this discussion, encourages students to expand on the information by providing details and opinions.
  3. As the discussion comes to a close, tell students to copy down the information on the board to use as a resource for the other activities and games.

Program Designers

One of the major aspects of the New Deal was the creation of various social and economic programs. Some of these programs, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), still exist today. This activity will encourage students to use teamwork and creativity to create their own federal programs.

This activity requires poster board and art supplies.

  1. Divide the class into small teams of three to four students. Ensure that each team has poster board and the supplies to decorate the board.
  2. Instruct the teams to brainstorm and come up with a new federal program in the style of a New Deal program.
  3. Once teams have decided on a program, they should create an informative poster about the program. The poster should include:
  • The name and purpose of the program
  • Why the program is needed/the problem the program addresses
  • Who will benefit from the program
  • How the program will be funded and administered

(These should be bullet points designed to give the broad strokes of the program and not every detail).

When the posters are complete, have each team present their posters and programs to the class. During their presentations, teams should expand on the bullet points with additional details and take questions from the class. To conclude the activity, have students vote on each program. A simple majority means the students believe the program should be implemented.

Let's Make a Deal

Franklin D. Roosevelt had to do a lot of negotiating with congress in order to obtain funding for New Deal programs. In this game, students will attempt to sell ideas to each other in a similar vein.

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