In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about needs and wants. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Needs and Wants topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching about Needs and Wants
With parental permission, have students save one penny a day and put it into a class piggy bank or jar. Explain that one penny might not seem like a lot of money, but over time you can save a substantial amount. Near the end of the semester or year count the money together. This would be a good opportunity to teach math, such as estimation (How many pennies are in the jar?), counting strategies, counting money, trading up to different denominations of change, or arrays. After totaling the money, have groups of students figure out what the classroom needs, like a new pencil sharpener, stapler, or bottle of soap. Then ask what the class wants, like an ice cream party, new board game, or fancy stickers. Should the class spend the money on what it needs or wants?
Remind students that people are both producers and consumers. They can make and grow their own goods or offer services. They can purchase goods and services too. Have students or groups of students brainstorm what goods they can make or grow and what services they can offer. Then organize an open-air market for your class, grade, or whole school. Students can spend time making their goods or finding ways to communicate their services with others. Invite students to set up booths to sell their goods and services. You can give students fake money to use or you can have them barter their goods and services. Review with students that when they barter, they exchange goods and services without using money. You may want to discuss civilizations and societies that use the barter system.
Needs and Wants Around the World
All communities need air, food, water, and shelter. However education, electricity, and running water are considered necessities in many cultures. Some cultures might consider cars “a want” or luxury, while other cultures consider transportation a necessity to get to work. Research wants and needs around the world and compare and contrast them with your student’s own community.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Needs and Wants
On a Budget
If possible, allow your child to earn a small allowance each week or month. The allowance could be earned by various services like managing your home’s recycling, walking the dog, or sweeping the kitchen floor. Your child could also earn money by producing goods painting a pictures to sell. Have your child make a list of things he or she needs or wants and research how much they cost. Then help your child create a budget and stick to the budget in order to teach and support effective money-managing skills.
Five dollars can buy many different goods and services. Have your child brainstorm and research what they can buy with five dollars. You may want to take your child to a grocery store or market to get different ideas of what things cost. For example, for five dollars may buy several pounds of apples, one box of cereal, or 2 bags of potato chips. Have your child compare and contrast the items. How does your family determine needs and wants at the grocery store? Help your child become a smart consumer.
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