Common Sense Review
Updated January 2014

People's Pie

Federal budget game's challenge delivers powerful message
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Challenge is the name of the game. Students get feedback at the end, but it's hard to win.
  • Balance citizen care with happiness.
  • How much tax should be levied? How should we care for seniors? Map out a budget before beginning.
  • Support bills that decide how the budget is spent.
  • Keep citizens happy or get booted out of office!
Intriguing balancing-act gameplay will bring students back for more.
It's tough without adjustable difficulty, so some students might not make the cut.
Bottom Line
Federal budgeting -- and its unique ethical and mathematical balancing act -- fits game-based fiddling and strategizing well, but expect a challenge.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

The difficult but interesting challenge of budget balancing mixed with great visual flair will likely have kids gobbling their pieces of "pie" and wanting to play again.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Taking the reins of the federal budget forces kids to think critically about priorities, and how choices affect the satisfaction of the people. Every turn offers long-term lessons.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Kids start with a thorough tutorial, but then are left on their own, so some may get lost. Scores are kept, but there is no explanation or analysis of the results. Lesson plans on the site are helpful if kids have an adult guide.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use The People's Pie to give students an appreciation and understanding of federal budgeting. To extend learning, have students research how the budget is currently allocated, and any recently passed or proposed spending bills. With this information, they can write position papers on how the budget is divided or allocated, or they can even try to politically involved and write their congresspeople or the President. Get students to play the role of the government, creating their political platform, planning out their own federal budgets, and drafting bills. Students could also engage in light live action roleplaying, assuming different roles as they try to plan and pass the budget and bills. For teachers interested in broader civics learning, dive into the rest of the iCivics curriculum and games to situate People's Pie in a larger unit that shows, for instance, the other responsibilities of the President or the branches of government.

Read More Read Less
What's It Like?

The People's Pie is an educational game in the iCivics series designed to teach students how the federal budget works. Students get to plan out the budget and choose bills that decide how the budget is allocated. By doing this, players learn that a successful federal budget requires balancing of social interests, political interests, and the well-being of the citizenry. Beware! Some bills are frivolous, and others are critical to the population. To stay out of trouble, students must think critically about how to spend reserves and levy taxes, or they risk going into debt, getting kicked out of office, or both.


Read More Read Less
Is It Good For Learning?

It drives home an important lesson: balancing the federal budget is a daunting, nearly impossible task that's the responsibility of different stakeholders in the government. Along with that overarching lesson, students get to see how bills spend federal budgetary resources, how some parts of bills are approved or denied, and how those choices affect the overall budget and a President's approval ratings. There's also general financial management takeaways; by exploring how the U.S. must manage debt or risk not being able to afford bills, students can learn a little bit about how to deal with their own finances responsibly.

Read More Read Less

See how teachers are using People's Pie

Teacher Reviews

Write Your Own Review