AP US History Students Experience The Great Depression

“The Great Depression was…depressing.” The realities of this period in U.S. History came to life for Mrs. Montgomery & Mr. Goetz’s AP US History students, as they simulated what it was like for a family to experience the Great Depression. Students were given a set of circumstances, which included family and economic status. As class progressed, the stock market, the banking and mortgage industry, rising unemployment, and changing family needs all impacted students, who were forced to make choices such as which bills were essential, whether or not they should sell items they couldn’t afford, and how they would feed and clothe themselves and their child. Their choices had consequences that ranged from time in jail for tax evasion to repossession of their belongings.

From a metacognitive standpoint, giving students a chance to experience history in a simulation helps them to remember the content because it creates an emotional response. It also helps build empathy and understanding for how living through that period might have impacts on future events. AP U.S. history students will use this simulation as a spring board for their study of the New Deal and World War II.