Who Wants to be a Millionaire Classroom Game

millionaire class game lesson planThe basic question and answer system of the popular TV quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire can be adapted into an entertaining and educational classroom game, where your student or students can win ‘money’ just like the real show. It can be enjoyed by students of all ages and does not require a set number a participants, meaning adults, children, parents, tutors and school teachers can all benefit from this class activity. Additionally, because the questions you will ask your ‘contestants’ can relate to an infinite number of subject matters, you can use this game to focus on a particular area of study.

Some topics and benefits include:

  • Reinforce a new subject in a more entertaining way
  • Increase understanding and memory
  • An icebreaker at the start of a new course for students to get to know each other
  • Improve the spelling of an English student who is good in all other areas
  • Grab the attention of students and children who are feeling restless or tired
  • Practice a foreign language with a spouse, tutor or on your own

Classroom Group Activity
Depending on the number of students in your classroom, you may wish to split them up into groups with the same number of contestants. For example, a classroom with 12 students will become 3 groups of 4 or 4 groups of 3. In a class with 8 or less students, I suggest that you only split them up into two groups. For the sake of healthy competition, it is always best to split the students into teams. It will not only build confidence in the winning team but also motivate all students to do better next time. Keep the questions and answers relevant to what you are teaching them currently. It will create more neural connections to the new subject and increase their understanding and recall. There’s also an opportunity to run this learning game as a flipped classroom, with student’s taking turns as host/quizmaster and contestant.

Tutoring One on One
For tutors and parents, decide which topic you want to practice with your student or child. Prepare some questions and answers for certain areas of study that they are weak in. As a fun alternative, see how creative your student can be by asking them to prepare the quiz for you. This may be a rewarding exercise for English learners. For example, tell them that the questions they will ask you must be formed using a specific grammar rule and writing down four possible answers lets them practice their vocabulary.

Or Even By Yourself
Of course, you will know the questions and answers in this practice; however it can still be extremely useful. Here is just one example: You are learning Chinese and want to practice character recognition. The question could be “Which word means ‘I’ in Chinese?” and the four possible answers are “A: 我”, “B: 你”, “C: 您” and “D: 他”. As you can see from writing just this one question you have:
1. A question to revise at any time in the future
2. Already practiced writing not one but four characters
3. Made another connection in your mind to the character and reinforced its meaning
If you’re looking for an efficient way on how to teach Chinese or even how to teach English then this is the fun activity for you.

The Basic Rules
Prepare ten questions on your chosen subject along with four possible answers marked A, B, C, and D (for an easier version of the game you can make some or all the questions simply True or False). Following the same principles as the TV version, make the questions progressively harder to really test your student’s knowledge.
The basic rules of the game are as follows:

1. Ask the contestants in group 1 a question and give them the four answers.
2. They can take time to think about their answer or use one or both of their lifelines (below).
3. If they provide the correct answer then their prize money increases and they move to the next question.
4. If they provide the wrong answer, then they leave with the amount of money they had before the question was asked. Note: Each group start with $0 and moves onto $1,000 if they answer question 1 correctly.
5. Now move to group 2 and ask them a question and provide its four answers.
6. Repeat steps 2-4 above with group 2.
7. After group 2 has answered their question 1, move to group 3, or if you have only two groups then go back and ask group 1 the next question.
8. Repeat steps 1-7 above until either all questions are complete or both teams have answered a question incorrectly.
9. Announce which team has won the most prize money and enthusiastically declare them the winner. Note: For individual contestants, simply go through each question in turn.

The prize money increases as follows:

  • $0
  • $1,000
  • $2,000
  • $5,000
  • $10,000
  • $20,000
  • $50,000
  • $100,000
  • $200,000
  • $500,000
  • $1,000,000

There is no option to ‘bank’ money in this version because there is no rule that causes contestants to lose all or a portion of their prize money.

Lifelines Add to the Fun
Class – Give each group three lifelines, including ‘Phone a friend’ where they will pretend to use a phone to call someone in the class for help, ‘Ask the audience’ where they discuss the answer with the whole class or ask the class to vote on the right answer, and ‘50/50’ where you will remove two out of the three incorrect answers leaving just the correct answer and one remaining wrong answer.
Tutor – Give your student or child the same three lifelines above. However, this time they can pretend to call you for help during ‘Phone a friend’ or discuss the answer with you during ‘Ask the audience’.
Own – When playing on your own, give yourself just one lifeline. In the Chinese character practice example above, your ‘Phone a friend’ lifeline could be a Chinese dictionary or online translator.

I hope you and your students have fun playing this game. As an extra incentive for students, reward your contestants with cheap prizes related to how much they win, e.g., one piece of candy for $1,000 right up to a whole bag for $1,000,000.

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