Success to the Successful — An Introduction to Animal Farm and Civil Rights


Literature and/or Social Studies




Students participate in an authentic situational simulation in which they are placed into groups to complete a task given certain materials.  Students become aware through observation that not all groups receive the same amount or quality of materials.  Those groups that started with more materials can get more materials as needed, while those groups with fewer materials may receive nothing additional and, in some cases, may have materials taken away from them. 

The groups that receive more materials will tend to experience greater success at completing the task than the groups with fewer materials.  A debriefing of the simulation using behavior-over-time graphs and an archetype can help students understand how success of a group within a society (e.g. the pigs compared to the other farm animals within the novel Animal Farm) can have a reinforcing cumulative effect that tends to create even more success for that group over time.

In class discussion, students compare the dynamics of the activity and the events/patterns within Animal Farm to the historical context of the racial inequities within our society that led to the civil rights movement.

ST Concepts & Habits


  • Interdependencies

  • Change over time

  • Structure generates behavior

Habits of a Systems Thinker:

  • Changes perspectives to increase understanding

ST Tools

  • Authentic situational simulation

  • Behavior-over-time graphs

  • Success to the Successful archetype


Employ strategies to comprehend text.

  • Connect information and events in text to experience and to related text and sources.

Students understand the human experience through time; interpret historical events; and make connections among cultures, people, and events.

  • Analyze key events in the United States’ civil rights movement.

Implemented by: Numerous 7th grade teachers

Submitted by: Anne LaVigne

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