Perhaps it is all this focus on the debt ceiling debate, but our homeschool group has been abuzz about economics education discussions and resources lately. But when I heard about these two online games by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), I knew I had to post them, seeing as I have not just one, but TWO people in my immediate family who have served as the US Executive Director to the IMF!
The IMF has an educational section on its website with curriculum guides for middle school and high school teachers, and some online games for middle school and high school students. The first game for the middle schoolers is called Where in the World & What in the World is Money? In this game, students use a time machine to visit cultures around the world at different times in Earth's history, and discover that the units of exchange have varied greatly over time and space. The other game for this age group is Trading Around the World, which is a little more involved than the first one. Students choose to play a role based on a trader from different continents across the world. They your trader goes about trying to sell his/her goods at the best prices, while buying other things at the biggest bargains. Sometimes the desired trades are blocked by trade barriers, which helps students understand why international organizations like the IMF exist to keep trade flowing.
If you have a high schooler, or an advanced middle schooler, you could also check out the Money Mania game. It is a quiz on macroeconomics, set as a game show format. You pick your character, who is competing against a typical uninformed high school student and a college economics major. But it isn't easy! In the beginning, I was getting trounced by the college econ major. But then they asked some questions about policies that my father spent most of his early career working on....so shame on me if I didn't get those right! Then, at the end, they asked four questions specifically about the IMF itself, all of which, fortunately, I got right (did I mention TWO of my family helped run the IMF?). But even with those advantages, I ended up tying with the college student. So I don't know how well most higher schoolers would do, let alone middle schoolers.
Still, these are fun ways to help explain why it might matter whether or not the US defaults on its international loans, and some other aspects of international economics.