I did the Thingamabob Game as part of a larger climate unit with my 5th-grade class. In order to further engage my young students, I started by having them make a name and logo for their Thingamabob company, and asked them to appoint a CEO and CFO. It took a few extra minutes to draw the logo but I think this gave them some extra ownership over their company and helped them get into their capitalist roles.
I also made some official-looking memos “from the board” that I could give to the do-gooder groups who were trying to minimize their impact on the environment instead of focusing on profits. I made them increasingly frantic:
This is unacceptable. We should be one of the TOP sellers and you’ve led us into a ditch. Fix it now or you’re fired! — The Board of Directors
What is going on? We hired you to make us competitive. Increase sales now! This is a warning. — With anger, The Board of Directors
Could you explain why we aren’t leading the industry in Thingamabob sales? The job isn’t that hard — sell more Thingamabobs and make more profit! Why do we need to tell you how to do your job? — Feeling annoyed, The Board of Directors
Our sales last quarter were abysmal (that means terrible). Get it together and sell some product. — Frustrated with you, The Board of Directors
This is unacceptable. We should be one of the TOP sellers and you’ve led us into a ditch. Fix it now or you’re fired! Losing patience, The Board of Directors
You’re fired. — The Board of Directors
I used the advice in the lesson and had these students be “hired” at existing companies after their company dissolved.
My students were incredibly engaged and the game was a great introduction to the idea that the climate crisis is a systemic issue, and not one that will be solved by individual action like using a paper straw. I followed this lesson with the mixers available here, and by the end of the unit students had a great understanding of the crisis and the massive collective action and pressure on those in power that it will take to solve it.