Homeworkopoly Revisited


Homeworkopoly has been drawing the attention of several people and conjuring questions of all kinds, so I decided to revisit this popular topic and do my best to answer the questions that have been asked.

What is it?  Homeworkopoly is a game that was created by some brilliant person (I’m guessing a teacher, but not sure of the original owner) to encourage homework participation.  The best part about it is that you can customize it to fit your needs.

How does it work?  It works differently in every classroom, I’m sure.  Some teachers are lucky enough to have only one set of students, while others are departmentalized and have numerous classes rotating through each day.  I teach 4th grade, and my team is departmentalized, so I see about 44 students every day.  Last year, the year of implementation, I actually had 3 classes of 22 students in a rotation, so it was a little difficult to manage, but still possible.  Because of the high volume of participants, my rules for the game were probably very different from a self-contained classroom.

The rules: During the fall semester, I was fortunate enough to have an AMAZING student teacher helping me out, so I had extra hands to aide in the execution of everything.  I kept a simple spreadsheet that had each student’s name and the dates of assigned homework.  Each time a student turned in homework, he/she got a check.  At the end of the week, students would get to roll the dice and move around the board as many times as they turned in homework for the week.  I also asked volunteers to help out while the students were actually being called back and playing the game.

During the spring semester, without help and with THE test looming over us, we just had less time for Homeworkopoly.  I told the students that instead of rolling once for each time they turned in homework, now they would have to be consistent all week in order to receive one roll.  Not only did this cut down on the time required to play, it helped reinforce the idea of responsibility and turning in homework consistently.

Computer and Chance Cards: When students land on a Computer Card or Chance Card space, the student would choose the card in the front/on top and receive the prize that was written on the card.  I’m not a big fan of sending students to the prize box all the time, so I chose to provide prizes that didn’t necessarily involve money.  I found a great website that offered 125 FREE rewards to students, so I picked the ones I liked most–and felt I could live with–printed them on labels, and then put them on the back of the cards.  I’ve posted the website under my classroom management page, but here it is again: http://www.managemyclassroom.com/?p=128

The other spaces: I hate to say it, but we just didn’t have time to mess with any spaces other than the Chance and Computer Card spaces.  If you have been fortunate enough to employ other ideas with these spaces, I would love to hear what you do!!

Pawns: Since I hung my Homeworkopoly game board on the wall, I had to use something that would not fall off the board (aka: no pawns).  I decided to designate a color to each class, and they had an Expo marker to write their assigned class number on the space where they landed.  Rather than writing it each time they landed, they only wrote their number where they landed LAST.  This is where those student helpers came in very handy!!  Since the game board was laminated, we just kept some Expo board spray and paper towels on the ledge next to it for when we needed to erase.

Time devoted to playing: As I mentioned earlier, this took up more time in the fall than it did during the spring, for various reasons.  Holding the students accountable for turning in homework every day in order to roll once cut down on the number of participants, especially towards the end of the year when all they want to do is go home and be DONE with school!  I would say it probably took around 20 minutes or so in the fall (with lots of help) and dwindled down to 5-10 in the spring.  This is per class.  Remember, I had classes of about 22 students.  We played only on Fridays.

Hopefully I’ve answered most of the questions you might have on the implementation of Homeworkopoly.  If you have played this game with your students, I would LOVE to hear your spin on it!!




  1. What a great idea and an original evolution of the monopoly game. Brilliant!

  2. Hey there, thx 4 the post! Do you want to play it again? I think what you did with changing the rules was a bit of scaffolding. So in the beginning, you made it easier for the students and in the end, it became a bit harder because one week work for one roll is a smaller reward that the student does not instantly get (much investment before getting the ROI you could say). What you could try to improve is changing the rules more slowly. So in the beginning it is 5 homeworks a week = 5 rolls and less homework a week = less rolls. After the half of the semester you change it to 1 roll every two handed in homeworks but you have to change the prizes too I think because otherwise, students will feel an inflation and begin to wonder why they still should do it. At the end of the first semester, you change to 3 homeworks = 1 roll, 5 homeworks = 2 rolls and after the first half of the second semester you change to 4 homeworks = 1 roll, 5 homeworks = 2 rolls. What do you think?
    After all, the question for me is why the students do not do their homework without homeworkopoly. You could try to find this out using a questionnaire so you can work on the real causes and not only cure the symptons. I’d be glad to read the result of your questionnaire and would like to think about what to do. And I recommend you to read the Learning Paradigm by John Tagg some day 😉
    Have a great day & may the force be with you,

    • Thanks again, Chris. I agree with what you said about gradually transitioning from one roll per homework turned in to one roll for the whole week. I actually gave my students a couple of weeks at the beginning of the spring semester to wean themselves a bit, but should have done it a little more gradually. That is one thing that I plan to improve this year. And yes, I plan on using it again.

      As for why students don’t always turn in homework: there is a plethora of reasons, but the number one reason is a lack of support from home. Our school is 78% economically disadvantaged, which translates to many students in my classroom being in charge of their younger siblings when they get home from school. Many of them don’t see their parents much, and if they do, the parents don’t know how to help them since many of them either dropped out of school or attended school outside of the US. And all too many students come from families that just don’t value education, so their negative attitudes reflect in their children. It’s sad, but true. I do everything I can to encourage participation and reward them for their efforts, but there is only so much I can do. Homeworkopoly was just one more thing to aide in motivation for students to work hard outside of school.

      • What do you think about using a platform for blended learning with a discussion forum and online support for students that have problems with their homework? Maybe this could help the students do their homework?

        • I love the idea of the “flipped classroom” and the whole blended learning thing. The problem we run into at our school, having so many underprivileged students, is that they do not have access to internet once they leave the classroom. That being said, there are many churches in the local community that have met with school district personnel and agreed to host wireless access points for the students in the community. Our district is also one of the first in the nation to be a 1-1 Kindle Fire campus. My school was chosen to receive Kindle Fires for all 3rd through 5th graders. We had many issues with them along the way, and the students were not able to actually take them home until April. By then, it was almost pointless to try to implement new homework options, especially since only half of my students were allowed to take them home.

          I’m hoping that the implementation of blended learning and the “flipped classroom” will actually become a reality this year. I am a huge proponent of incorporating technology in my classroom, and I do it as much as I can. Some subjects lend themselves to this much easier than others, but I always try to think of something that I could use to grab their attention through technology. I’m looking forward to a great new start!!

          • Ok I already thought something like that but I’m hoping that it gets easier this year, too. Let me know if there are some changes, I’m really interested in this topic!
            Now another approach comes into my mind: What about solution-focused brief therapy? I read the book “Switch! How to change things when change is hard” by Chip and Dan Heath. I recommend it, btw 😉
            In “Switch!” they write about finding the bright spots and replicating them instead of focussing on the bad things and frustrating yourself with all the problems. Solution-focused brief therapy works with three questions (at least as far I remember): When was the last time you felt good about your problem? What was different then? Imagine you slept very well and all your problems were gone. What would be different then and how would you feel? What can you do to change you and your environment to solve your problem (using the answers from the questions before). I try to apply it to homework now:
            When was the last time you were able to do your homework without problems? What was different then compared to days you did not do your homework? Imagine you wake up in the morning and you know that you have done your homework for today. What would be different then compared to not having done your homework? How would you feel? -> Take all the answer from a student and tell him the answers he/she gave and that these are the solutions and that he/she has already used them and then felt good.
            Do you get it? Do I make any sense?
            Have a great day & may the force be with you,

          • Wow, you sure are thinking!! Yes, that makes sense. I guess the Homeworkopoly game is just one of several things I do for my students. I am a very hands-on teacher. I really want my students to succeed, and I do everything humanly possible to help them. I will try to remember to blog again about how the homework is going, but for now, especially since we are still on summer break, I will focus on starting a new year. When problems arise, I will definitely be thinking back to this convo. ;). Thanks for all of the input.

          • You’re welcome! And if you come to a point where you wonder how you could go on or how to solve a problem, blog about and I will think about it, I promiss. Wish you a great time!
            May the force be with you,

  3. Kaime Roe says:

    Hi Kayla! I’m the new fourth grade teacher that has been bugging you the past couple of days at Gretchen’s writing workshop. I am interested in your 125 free rewards website but that link is either a dead end or may need further instruction about where to go once you get there. I’m reading all of your stuff and stealing what I can. It was very nice to meet you. I’m sure we will be in touch! :)

    • Kayla Shook says:

      Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you enjoyed Gretchen’s workshop!! I had no idea that the link wasn’t working anymore, so thank you for bringing that to my attention. I’ll have to search out where it moved! Best wishes this year, and please let me know what questions you have. Im here for ya! :)

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