Teaching Wants and Needs {a Mini-Lesson and a Freebie}

Did you get the Holiday Toys 'R Us catalog in the mail yet? How about the one from Target? I did, and eagerly flipped through it to see this year's hot new toy.  I've got to make sure I'm keeping up with the 8 year olds!  Skimming through the pages gave me an idea for a mini lesson that is perfect for this time of year- the difference between wants and needs.

Everyone deServes to Learn Wants and Needs

 At my school we have a large underprivileged population, and a sizable ESL population.   Many of our ELL's are refugees from Burma and Thailand and came with their families to the US with nothing but the shirts on their backs.  They were given some necessities by a local charitable organization, but then left on their own to figure out life in America.  This is especially evident around the holidays, when their classmates chatter away about Santa, wishlists, and Christmas morning.

Two years ago, my teammate and I decided to bring a little holiday magic to our students.  We were able to give every ESL student a gift to open on Christmas.  One of our 4th graders at the time had been desperately wanting a Barbie. She had never received a gift before, never unwrapped a package.  When she opened her Barbie and car at our Holiday Party, she was so overcome she just sat there and cried.  We cried, too. We'll be reprising our roles as Santa this year by getting donations from faculty and the community.  If you want to read more about the holiday party, click the picture.  

Everone deServes to Learn Wants and Needs

Since this is our 3rd year in a row, we want to discuss with our students the difference between needs and wants. (Because Santa's money doesn't grow on Christmas trees!) Before our party, we always make a list of students' names, sizes, and wishlist so faculty can donate gifts if they wish.  This year we thought we'd get the students involved in making their wishlist, but add a little twist to it.  They'll have to tell us what they want, what they need, and as a little bonus, something they'd like to read. Click the picture to grab this form from Google drive.

Once they turn in their wishlist, I'm going to show a BrainPOP video about wants and needs.  The BrainPOP will come second so that they'll have background about their own wants or needs while they are watching. We'll take the quiz (they LOVE the quizzes on BP) and then play the game as a group or in partners.  Click the pictures to go to BrainPOP.

After we discuss wants and needs, we will revisit our Wishlists.  I'll model how one of my needs is actually a want, and I'll ask for volunteers to talk about their wants and needs.  We will edit our wishlists, and then share some of our wants and needs with the class.  As closure, I'll display some pictures from Google images and have them show me if it is a need or a want.  If I find they need some reinforcements, we'll do some of the activities from my friend Halle's unit- check it out below. 

How do you teach wants and needs with your students? Leave me a note!


  1. This is such a great lesson! What a great way to tie in wants and needs to Christmas! I am sure this will be very meaningful to your students. You are so good to your kids!

    Eclectic Educating

  2. Such a great lesson to discuss especially during the holidays! Your printable is so cute and right to the point. I am sure your little ones will get it. =) Thanks for sharing girly.


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