The Paper Bag Game

Did you know...

'A quarter of the world’s population live in severe poverty. Many work long hours in poor conditions just to earn enough to stay alive, often surviving on less than £1.30 per day. With this money they have to pay for everything – food, clothes, somewhere to live, school and medicines when they get sick.

Many workers have no employer or regular wage. Instead they work as street vendors: shining shoes, selling newspapers or recycling waste materials. In the Indian city of Kolkata, some people earn a living making paper bags out of recycled waste paper – such as old newspapers – and selling them to shopkeepers.

The object of the Paper Bag Game is to show how people work so hard, yet earn so little. Using real cost-of-living prices and wages, players can get an idea of how they would manage if they had to survive making and selling paper bags.'

Today we tried playing this game and found it quite challenging. We thought it would be about making paper bags but it turned out to be more about problem solving and finding solutions as a team to the unfair conditions we were working under.... Everyone had to make a contribution of some kind.

Some people were 'sick' or injured or had to go visit a relative leaving the family shorthanded. Some family members decided to go and help another family for free!!! Others worked out that they had resources to sell - paper or labour - and were lucky when they negotiated. Some people decided to create a production line to make the bags, but this backfired on them when the shopkeeper decided he wanted different shaped bags.

Everyone started out excited and then experienced feeling annoyed, or fed up, or frustrated or disappointed as the game went on. How did you feel?
Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Mrs Bunning is going to Kolkata again next week so she came in to tell us about India and she is going to bring us back some Indian newspaper for us to make some bags with.
We look forward to getting a postcard!


  1. I thought it was very exciting and fun but when the chance cards came out it got harder and harder .I still thought it was quite fun and I never knew that poor Indian people had to make paper bags to survive. I also thought it was not very fair how the people got barely any rupees so they would have a risk of survival.

    From Aidan P5

  2. Hello P5: It looks like you had fun with the paper bag game! And I hope you got to make really nice bags! I'm looking forward to coming to your class again this week!

    See you soon!

    Mrs Milsom

  3. I thought it was really fun! I was exited at first but when the chance cards came I was disapointed. But one of the chance cards said we were allowed to sell any shaped bag so we could sell the bags we made erlier. I was really suprised that some people have to make paper bags to survive and how little mony they got for it. Now I relise how lucky we are.

    Alex P5

  4. I enjoyed making paper bags and playing the game, but wouldn't want to do it everyday like the Indians do.

    Kieran p5