Feb 04, 2023

How to Incorporate Arcade Games in the Classroom: BUMMER

BUMMER is a game that gives students experience buying and using insurance.  The first three rounds deal with deciding on a specific type of insurance, and then spinning a wheel to see what sort of real life event occurs and the cost under the insurance coverage the student selected.  The last round allows you to reconsider your original choices and face the Bummer wheel again. The goal of the game is to get through the four rounds with as much money as possible. (You may not make it through the whole game!)


This series is designed to give teachers new to Arcade Games some tips from teachers who have lots of experience and excellent suggestions on how to use them in class.  Even if you have used a game with your students, a quick read of this post might give you some new ideas.


The very first thing you should do if you want to use BUMMER with your students is to watch Amanda Volz’s 7 ½ minute Teacher Tip video on the game.  Amanda explains why she uses the game after she has introduced some of the insurance vocabulary and terms.  However, she points out where in the game students can find definitions and explanations of terms they may not know if you use it closer to the beginning of the unit or if they need a refresher.  Amanda shows you how to navigate through the NGPF site to find the game and the reflection sheet that goes with it, if you choose to use it, and then carefully explains how to navigate through the game.


Many teachers use BUMMER at some point in their insurance unit.  For most, it takes 15-30 minutes for the students to play the game.  For those that use the reflection sheet, the entire lesson takes a bit longer if it is done in class.  Some use it as the introduction, and a few use it near the beginning but after basic terms are introduced, as Amanda suggests, but it can also be used in the middle or end of the unit.  Below find comments and suggestions from experienced teachers arranged by when in the unit they use the game.

Julius Prezelski uses the game and reflection sheet as an introduction to insurance.

I give my students a quick 1 minute on what the game is about and then they play. At the end I only highlight a few questions from the reflection sheet in class. Now, I am ready to start the insurance unit.


Renee Nelson also uses the game and reflection sheet as the first activity in her insurance unit.

Students didn't think they need insurance, and didn't believe that there is insurance for EVERYTHING. Even though they see the need for cell phone insurance, students had an awakening and interest in learning about insurance once they played this game.


Sara Shackett uses the game but not the reflection sheet in the beginning of the unit.

I love starting with Bummer since the theme of insurance is risk management. Students understand that there are different levels of insurance and add-ons to further mitigate risk. If students do not make it through the first time, I give them a hint to play again and buy all the insurance. I use the main reflection question at the very end of the insurance instruction--Agree or disagree, then explain your answer: In real life, the best strategy is to pay the highest premiums and buy as many Add Ons as you can afford so you’re protected against many financial risks. It works great.


Kayla Bousum has her student play the game early in her insurance unit (no reflection sheet), but after basic insurance terms have been introduced.

I challenge students to show me how much money they had left at the end of the game and start a leaderboard for the students with the highest amounts. I give a candy prize to the student in each class who has the most money left at the end.


Kathey Hatfield uses the game as well as the reflection sheet at the same point in the unit, after the students have an understanding of insurance vocabulary.


Steve Penley uses the game (no reflection sheet) midway through his insurance unit.

I use Bummer at or just passed the mid-point of the unit.  I use it to discuss insurance as it relates to their learning/life but also to explore/introduce other insurances (Pet) prior finishing the unit


Keri Herrild uses the game (no reflection sheet) as a review of the unit.  Her advice is as follows: 

Be excited about it.  Share that excitement with the kids.  Starting it on the big screen with the gameshow music builds the hype and that will help students be more engaged.  I often only use the reflection worksheets when I have a sub.  If you are in the classroom, play it at the same time as them.  Have them share out the weird things that are happening as they play.  Discuss the lessons learned as a whole group afterward.  Encourage questions as you go.  Don't just assign it and let them go, because that will be boring for everyone.  Engage with them!


Whether you decide to try this at the beginning of the unit or somewhere else, or you decide to pull something together for a sub/emergency lesson plan, your students will get a lot out of playing BUMMER.  Hopefully these teacher tips will help you figure out what will work best for you and for your students.   


Resources and Links:


The Game and Videos


Kick off the class with a relevant Question of the Day (more available here)

  • QOD How much does texting while driving increase insurance premiums?
  • QOD How much does a speeding ticket increase the annual cost of car insurance?

Follow-up with an article on the subject 

  • If you are looking for a relevant and very recent article to incorporate in your lesson, try this one about the major insurance companies that will no longer provide coverage for certain Hyundai and Kia models. (Yahoo Finance)


About the Author

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

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