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Do I Want or Need?

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 1st Grade
Standard 4 Objective 2

Time Frame

1 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills

  • Social & Civic Responsibility
  • Employability


Calbert Beck
Kristen Cottrell
Stephanie Seely


Students will learn to identify the difference between things they want and items they need for survival.



  • Needs_vs_Wants.pdf
    Copy and cut so that you have one "Pinch Card" for each student in your class.


  • Making Choices
    This is a great lesson plan from the site Finance in the Classroom. Refer to this lesson plan to complete the activities.

  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst
  • Assessment Sheet
  • Wants v Needs Pinch Cards
  • plastic coins
  • chart paper (to make a T-chart)
  • sticky notes (2 per student)

Background for Teachers

Teachers should familiarize themselves with the "Making Choices" lesson plan listed in the resources.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students need to be familiar with coins.

Students should also understand the terms wants and needs.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand economic choices that need to be made.

Instructional Procedures


  • Finance in the Classroom
    Refer to this website for the activities to go along with the book Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday

Show students a candy bar and a bottle of water to review the concept of wants and needs. Ask which one they would need in order to survive.

Hand out the pinch cards to the students. Students will hold the card under their chin as the teacher lists different items students will pinch the word according to if it is a want or need.

Pass out 2 sticky notes to each student. The students will draw a want on one sticky note and a need on the other. Then they will place them on the T-chart on the chart paper under the correct heading, want or need. Discuss the T-chart as a class, moving sticky notes if needed.

Gather class to read the book, Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday. Refer to the lesson from the site Finance in the Classroom to complete activities.


While reading the book, Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst, give each student a zip-lock bag with a dollar's worth of plastic coins in it. They can take away coins from their plastic bags as Alexander spends his own money in the book.

** If you choose to do this activity, make sure you preview the book first so that you know which coins need to be in the plastic bags.

Assessment Plan

Hand out index cards, or small slips of paper. Have the students roll a die twice.

For each odd number rolled, they need to draw a picture of a need. For each even number rolled, they need to draw a want.

You can follow up by having them roll the dice more than twice.

Created: 06/18/2010
Updated: 02/05/2018