Needs and Wants


In this lesson, students learn the differences between needs and wants and how some wants can become needs depending on circumstances.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to lead a class discussion about items that students might have in their desks or lockers, separating them into needs and wants.

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What our Needs and Wants lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Needs and Wants helps students understand the differences between needs and wants, and how some wants can become needs depending on circumstances. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify the difference between needs and wants. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the red box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are scissors, glue, and the handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can prepare lists of actual needs and wants to display for the lesson opening, gather the supplies, and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to use a weekly circular from a local store and have students cut out items and sort them into needs and wants. You can also lead a class discussion about items that students might have in their desks or lockers, separating them into needs and wants. If you want to add to the lesson opening, students can sit on the floor and you can ask them whether they need desks for school.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Needs and Wants

The Needs and Wants lesson plan includes two pages of content. The lesson begins by asking students questions about whether they need or want different items, like food and water and games and books. Everyone has both needs and wants. Needs are things you need to survive. Wants are things that you would like to have. Not everyone agrees about what counts as a need and what counts as a want. Some needs might be nutritious food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Some wants might be cell phones, television, movies, and toys.

People often earn money that they can use to buy things. When buying things, they need to decide whether what they want to buy is a need or want. Someone who is hungry needs food, but a bag of potato chips might be a want because it’s not very nutritious.

Adults who have jobs and earn money have to decide between needs and wants. Needs are necessary for survival, so it’s important for people to buy those things first, before buying the things they want.

It’s important to think about whether you actually need the things that you think you need. Shoes are a need, but you might not need an expensive pair. You might want the expensive pair, but you don’t necessarily need them instead of a cheap pair.

To reiterate, needs are things you have to have and can’t live without, while wants are things you’d like to have but that are not necessary. It’s fine to have wants, but you need to make sure not to let your wants come before your needs.


The Needs and Wants lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For the lesson activity, students will cut out the images on the worksheet and identify each as either a need or a want, gluing them into the correct column.

Students can work in pairs to complete the lesson activity.


The practice worksheet asks students to first fill in the blanks in a paragraph about needs and wants using the words from the word bank. They will then review a list of food items and write an “N” if each item is a need or a “W” if it’s a want.


For the homework assignment, students will look at images in different categories and write either the word “need” or the word “want” under them.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the activity worksheet, the practice worksheet, and the homework assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade


Social Studies

State Educational Standards

NGSS.D2.ECO.1.K.2, NGSS.D2.ECO.1.3-5, NGSS.D2.ECO.2.K.2

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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    Costa Rica Costa Rica


    Pretty great. It has complete and well-explained theory and activities.

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    My experience has been great. I love learn bright.

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    Just happened to find this

    What I found was nice. Thanks

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    Super lesson

    Love how involved it is. And the resources given. Easy to accommodate

    Lauren M.
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    Needs and wants

    This was a well designed unit with very good worksheets to use as the basis for my lesson.