An important part of creating and maintaining a Model United Nations team is establishing a positive team atmosphere. The group of students you get will be working closely together throughout the year. You want to establish a good team ethic early in the process. Here are a list of some fun MUN games and activities that you can use to to break the ice during the earlier practices or to provide fun game, to contrast the conventional Model UN simulations, throughout the program. They following Model United Nations games are rated in difficulty level and appropriateness for the skill level you have built your group up to.
Level: Easy Beginning Activity
Resources Needed: 3 or more atlases, all the same version
Time Needed: 15 minutes
Most students are so used to having their technology look everything up for them that they have never used an atlas, and they certainly do not know how to use longitude and latitude. While this game is not specific to the UN, it will help get students looking at the world as a whole and have them work together to do so.
To play, you need to go through the atlas beforehand and make at least ten questions. The questions can be obscure facts that you find throughout the atlas. The point is for the students to learn to use the whole book: table of contents, the index, the content pages. Here are some sample questions:
- What is the fifth longest river in the world?
- What is the tallest mountain on the African continent?
- What is the longitude and latitude of Rabat, Morocco?
- What type of forests cover most of the state of Montana?
The questions you make can be from anywhere in the atlas. Make about 10 questions for each Atlas Challenge. Separate the students into groups of about four. I would suggest each teacher pick the groups to avoid the stronger students sticking together.
The fun part of this game is the time factor. Give them no more than twelve to fifteen minutes to complete the challenge. Most won’t finish, but the team to get the most correct wins.
This game is so simple yet brings immediate cohesion to a group. You can play this game periodically throughout the year and it does not take long to do.
Level: Difficult, play when nearing conference
Resources Needed: Access to the UN’s resolution page
Time Needed: One hour
As can be seen in our How to Write a Resolution article, writing a resolution is an essential Model UN skill. It can also be an art. To write well students need hands on experience with them. During the conference, the delegations that come up with quality, and relevant, resolutions the fastest usually lead the way and win the awards.
This activity is designed to challenge your students to write quality resolutions. Go to the website linked above and find a few resolutions to use. Try to pick an issue that is well known. Make sure the resolution you choose has actionable items and doesn’t simply declare the continuation of a policy detailed in a different resolution. Some good examples are resolutions about climate change, terrorism, refugees, and trade disputes.
Go over the issue with the class, but not the actual resolution. A good review of the issue can usually be found in qualitative news sites like The Atlantic, and The Economist. Separate the students into groups of four or five. Have them write out the perambulatory and operative parts of their own resolution to the problem.
You will be in charge of judging the resolutions. Depending on where you guided them in the discussion, you can judge how close they got to the actual UN resolution on the issue. Once done, give the students a copy of the actual resolution and go over areas where all teams could improve.
Level: Difficult, use throughout year to enhance public speaking skills and help students get over fear of public debate
Resources Needed: Hot international topics
Time Needed: 15 minutes
Make this game a surprise. Have the desks separated before they arrive and place students into groups of two. Tell them which committee they are that day (Security Council, UNESCO, General Assembly, etc). Assign each group a country to temporarily represent.
The topic should be one the students have some knowledge of. If not, give them a brief of up to one page and an additional 15 minute of time to read and prepare.
Let the students know what the topic of debate will be. You will act as chair of the committee and will open the floor for debate. Try to use proper points and procedures, which will improve throughout the year. Let debate go on for fifteen minutes only. This means only motions that have to do with speaking. Also, do not let them start writing clauses or motioning for unmoderated caucuses. This is just a warm up activity to get students comfortable with public speaking and speaking procedure.
You can use this activity periodically throughout the school year.
Mini Caucus Game
Level: Moderate, prefered to use as students get closer to conference
Resources needed: Any topic of for discussion, maybe one of the Flash Debate topics.
Time Needed: If played with Flash Debate, add extra half an hour
During the conference, much of the give and take negotiation will be done in caucuses outside of regular committee debate. For this simulation, use a similar method to the one described in the Flash Debate game. Each group of two will become a country. Give a hot topic issue for them to debate. Use proper points and motions to set it up. Lets the students given an opening statement and possibly one other follow up speech before breaking them into an unmoderated caucus to hammer out a solution. This solution does not need to be written in resolution style detail but should be clear and actionable. If the student did not give clear positions, after the opening speeches, you can assign positions to them before letting them lobby. Let the students break into groups all over the classroom until they come up with a solution. The goal of this game is to negotiate and compromise. In the end, representatives should present their conclusions and explain how they got there.
Right of Reply Game
Level: Intermediate +
Resources needed: Computers / smartphones to do research
Time Needed: 45 minutes. 15 to prepare and 30 to play
The goal of the game is to teach students to strategically mention other countries by name and develop response skills when insulted or called out. Right of Reply is usually used to respond to incorrect information or insulting language. Strategic use of the Right of Reply throughout a Model UN simulation is often done by expert delegates and helps the rapid response skills of students who practice.
You will assign different countries to all the delegates. You should give them a hot topic to use as the base. Preferably this topic should be one countries fail at, such as environmental protection or treatment of prisoners. The students should take the research time to prepare speeches that defend their actions and also “insult” another country in the room. The students can sit in a circle or go in alphabetical order. However, each student should know who they are insulting and who is insulting them.
During the preparation time the students should try and predict where they will be insulted and plan for the first half of their speech to defend against the previous speaker's claim, with the second half setting up and insulting the next country on the list. Once everyone is ready, a first country should start the topic and kick off the Right of Reply game. This game teaches students to respond to personal attacks and insults in speeches and to be able to strategically do the same. This game usually involves a lot of laughter and the students should be reminded to not be too rude. The Right of Reply game is usually good to make students comfortable with how countries ross examine each other and to help move the students from a state of mind from stiffly speaking to masses to having a comfortable conversation with individuals.
The United Nations Association of the United States (UNAUSA) also have many resources and activities. Here is a list of some of the more relevant Model UN Classes exercises from them that can be useful for you and your team.
Points and Motions
Level: Difficult, use when you begin point and motions
Resources Needed: Handouts from activity
Time Needed: One hour
Level: Easy to Difficult, use throughout the year to check progress and for fun
Resources Needed: Computer, Internet, and Projector
These two sites have excellent and well put together games for Model UN trivia. Students will have fun, but be aware that some of the questions are difficult. This game will work well with a Smartboard.
Model UN Scavenger Hunt
Level: Easy, good to use in the early stages to familiarize your team with the United Nations.
Resources Needed: Computers and Internet
Time Needed: One to Two Hours
Scavenger Hunt Activity from UnaUSA
Getting to Know Your Country
Level: Easy, use when you get your country assignments.
Resources Needed: Computers and Internet
Time Needed: Approximately an hour and a half
Getting to Know Your Country from UnaUSA
Model UN App
Level: All Difficulties
The Model UN App by the UN Association of the United States gives students the ability to take lessons, information, and simulations with them anywhere. Most students will have smart phone or smart device access. It offers many simulations and country information that your students will certainly enjoy. It can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple Store.