Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies

TITLE:  Paper Clip Game for Learning the Value of Rules

AUTHOR:  Kathleen Franz, WA


OVERVIEW:  The paper clip game serves as a good devices for
discussing the need for and importance of rules in society.
It acts as a springboard for developing a working definition
of law and understanding the importance of law.  It serves
to overcome an often negative perception of law.

OBJECTIVES:  Students will be able to:
1.   Identify three components of good rules (law): Purpose,
     Notice, Consistency and Fair Application.
2.   Equate the lack of good rules with feelings of
     confusion, frustration and anger.
3.   Recognize the need for good rules to achieve order and
     a goal.


1.   Divide the class into rows, making sure that one row
     has more students and that one row has more boys (or
2.   Give each student in the front row five paper clips.
     Then tell them to begin.  (Students will exhibit
     confusion, not knowing what to do.  Eventually someone
     will start doing something.)
3.   After a brief period, stop the game.  Tell them they
     may only pass one clip at a time.  The object is to
     pass the clips backward and then forward and the first
     row to finish wins.  Start them over again.
4.   After a brief period, stop the game.  Tell them the
     clips must be passed back over the left should and
     passed forward over the right.  Start them over again.
5.   After a brief period, stop the game.  Explain that
     there are too many people in one row and they should
     have twice as many clips to pass and that there are
     more girls in one row, so they should have less clips
     to pass.  After making these adjustments, start the
     game over again.
6.   Allow the game to now proceed to the end and debrief
     the students on their feelings and observations.  List
     the student generated responses on the board.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  Subsequent discussion of student
responses should be related to society's need for rules of
conduct, their purpose, their consistency and their fair
application in order to avoid confusion and frustration and
achieve goals.  Specific examples or rules and laws may be
used to further illustrate the points made.


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