Teaching about surviving poverty and homelessness

Can gaming in class help students learn?

There is research to be found that highlights the value of gaming in school. And there are many games to choose from that are motivational and relevant for our students. Many parents have experience with kids who learn English when they are gaming after school. In this research paper I found the following;

To conclude the literature review on the impact of online games on vocabulary learning, it can be said that online games are an effective and motivating way to teach vocabulary in EFL classes. However, the gender factor has an influence to the learning process with online games. Male students showed more success in learning vocabulary through online games rather than female students. Source

The purpose of the game Spent is to inform players of how detrimental poverty and homelessness are in today’s economy. It sets up a real-world value that people struggle with every day and how easy it is to get to that point in life.


Spent” is about how it is to be poor in the United States.
The challenge is to survive 30 days with $ 1000 in your wallet.
You have won the game if you still have money left after 30 days – and you lose if you don’t.

It’s a website, so you can play this game on any digital gadget with a web browser. Have students play through the game on the website – http://playspent.org After the first play (regardless of whether they “won” or not) you go through the questions below. How you choose to do this in your class allows you to decide – whether it be class or group conversations or individual work or the IGP method. Your classroom – you decide!

Follow-up questions after each play:

What happened to you in the game? What choices did you make along the way and how did it go? What was the hardest choice you had to make in the game? Why? If you play the game once more – what do you want to do differently? Why? What have you learned from playing the game a few times? After a few rounds, it may be good to look a little beyond the game itself.

Here are some suggestions for questions you can work with after playing the game

  • A talk afterward about cultural differences, working life, and the welfare state.
  • What events in the game do you think could not happen in Norway? Why?
  • What things are different in Spent in relation to Norwegian conditions?
  • Is it the way it is to be poor in Norway too? Why?

A chat afterward about the choices you have to make along the way

  • Did you do anything you really didn’t want to do?
  • What was it – and why did you choose it anyway?
  • Take in various ethical challenges the player encounters along the way and evaluate them from different ethical ways of thinking.


I would love to hear from you