WWI with Tootsie Rolls and RAMIN

February 21, 2009

As a lead into a discussion with 8th grade students on the causes of WWI I have my students participate in a game where they have to grab as many Tootsie Rolls as possible from a pile in the middle of the room.  The activity was created to demonstrate how countries during WWI competed for natural resources. The tootsie rolls represent natural resources and the students represent countries competing for the natural resources. (See the activity in the video below).

My students absolutely love this and it leads to a lot of great thinking on their part.  After the rules are explained and the kids complete the activity which is simply called the “Candy Grab Game” the students are presented with a simple question – Why did we do this activity? After a class discussion exploring the possible reasons for doing the candy grab game we then go directly into the notes on the causes of WWI without giving MY rationale for the game.  I want them to think, draw their own conclusions and make their own connections. We just finished learning about US Overseas Expansion and have already had a little introduction to WWI. Their responses always get me excited and actually get me to think about different ways to see this game as a metaphor for one of the causes of WWI – imperialism.

Now the RAMIN part:

When  giving the notes on the causes of WWI  an interactive whiteboard is used and on every slide there are pictures of  of Ramen Noodles with an “I” superimposed over the “E”.



My kids begin to ask questions and sometimes it leads to off task discussions on how “yummie” Ramen Noodles are and their favorite flavor etc.  I even hold on to a real package of noodles while going over the notes.  This puzzles and intrigues the kids – many are probably thinking that their teacher is nuts.

Finally we get to a page of notes with the picture of RAMIN and the phrase “This is what caused World war I”  I wait for the light bulbs to go off and rely on “wait time” for my students to make the connection.  Many of the students eventually realize that RAMIN is an acronym for the causes of WWI – Check out the notes below for a more detailed explanation.

I developed this “crazy” acronym in my 2nd or 3rd year of teaching (I started in 1998).  One of the great things I have found with using acronyms such as RAMIN in the classroom is that when I run into former students (5-10 years later) they are still excited to tell me among other acronyms that they remember RAMIN and what it stands for.

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One Response to “WWI with Tootsie Rolls and RAMIN”

  1. Beth Still said

    What a timely post! I am just about to finish teaching my students about imperialism. (I am a high school social studies teacher.) The only problem is that my students who will continue with this unit are online.

    I love the use of acronyms. Very clever! You mentioned this lesson a few weeks ago and ever since I have wondered how it would work. I will keep this on file for future use. Thanks!

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