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Teaching with D&D: Stealthy Social Studies Lesson Plan #3

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

The boss battle is about to happen, so let’s swing back into a social studies lesson. The transition into this lesson can naturally occur during a moment when you are asking one of your student-players to summarize what has happened so far in the adventure. Our adventure started as a "find a missing person" mission. By now the group has located the missing chef. They found out that an unfriendly neighboring territory’s local governor ordered the chef kidnapped. This adventure can conclude when your adventurers return the kidnapped chef and gets their reward.

In Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) there are so many situations that we can create which could complement curriculum from elementary through high school. In terms of social studies, during a D&D game you can witness different forms of governments and different rights and responsibilities of citizenship. You can further your understanding of the rule of law and experience economic systems, learn about scarcity and choice, travel though different geographical locations using maps, see symbols and engage in international relations. Players might even see the inside of a court system. Now let’s focus now in on scarcity and choice.

Lesson Plan #3: Social Studies

Lesson Objective: Understanding scarcity of resources and the influence it has on a personal and society level

Concept Vocab: Scarcity of resources, economic choices, price increases

1) Warm-Up: Ask, “What could be some reasons countries or different groups go to war?” When you have a decent sized list, introduce and discuss - Scarcity of Resources (5 minutes)

2) Teach: Say “D&D is a scarcity of resource game. Your characters do not have an unlimited supply of anything, and there are so many instances where scarcity arises. On a personal level, managing spell slots and money are when players often encounter scarcity. Together let’s come up with our own examples of where we can see scarcity of resources in the game.” Possible Answers: food, influence of power, money, time, health … try to generate a large list with your students. (5 minutes max).

· Allocation Exercise: A group is about to leave their home base to depart on a mission that could last for weeks. What do you take with you? Refer to the popular D&D Shopping List from the Player’s Handbook Pages 149-150. Extension: Include the weights of every item as each character has a defined carrying capacity (15 minutes max)

3) Continue your main story: After going through your allocation exercise continue with your main story line to the conclusion of the adventure. (Remainder of your allotted time.)

4) Assessment: Ask your player-students to write a short 4 or 5 sentence paragraph describing how scarcity of resources affected this adventure.

5) Extensions:

· Ask your players to communicate with a parent or grandparent about scarcity of resources when they were kids. Have them report their findings. Then, ask them to compare that to the last two years.

· Create a future side mission story line that focuses on scarcity of resources.

Good luck with your D&D learning adventures, and I would love to read your comments below on your own D&D teaching experiences. Have trouble getting started? Let me know as I might be able to help.

This blog follows "Dungeons and Dragons in School?!?," “Fantastic/al D&D Lesson Plans - #1 Writing” and Magical Math D&D Lesson Plan #2. Next Up: Lesson #4 Science, then #5 Art)

Paul Lazrow is the founder and one of the Storytellers at Adventuring Portal, an online service that focuses on running live-guided fun, safe D&D games for kids. Find out more at

Boss Battle Map example

Below are some great social studies resources:

Econ EdLinkOpens In A New Window: A premier site for resources if teaching economics which is integrated into geography, history, and civics and government lessons or a focused economics class.

iCivicsOpens In A New Window: Founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, iCivics is designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in democracy. iCivics presents government in an interactive game format with activities pertinent and relatable to students' lives.

Teachinghistory.orgOpens In A New Window: History resources abound on this website. This site is designed to help K-12 teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. History content, teaching strategies, resources, and research are easily accessible to teachers.

USCICOpens In A New Window: Visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website to practice the civics test and access other resources.

Act 35 Civics Toolkit: This Pennsylvania focused civic knowledge toolkit is designed to assist school entities in the development of an assessment that both satisfies the required elements of Act 35 and aligns with State Academic Standards for Civics and Government, Economics, Geography, and History.

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