For my seventh grade social studies class, I developed an interactive game to help my students understand ancient civilizations. I made three-dimensional villagers out of wooden spoons, decorating them with cloth, etc. to make people. You can stand them up by putting the spoon handles in holes in shoe boxes, or gluing a bunch of toilet paper tubes together, etc. I'm sure you could find packages of wooden spoons at a dollar store, and have the students bring cloth, ribbon, beads, etc. from home to decorate them. When I was in the fifth grade, doing a similar activity, the teacher had us all bring stuff from home to decorate our villagers, and then taught us how to barter. I was really popular, since I had a collection of plastic cocktail spears (for fruit, etc.). They made great spears or swords for some cultures! Having the students bring things from home will insure variety and cut the cost tremendously.