K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • look at picture cards to distinguish between things we need and things we want. (whole-group activity)
  • use magazines to cut out pictures of things they want and things they need. (individual activity)
  • interview someone in their family to discover things they need and things they want as a family. The information will be recorded on an index card and shared with the group.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 Hour


  • The Red Racer by Audrey Wood
  • Picture Cards
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Index cards for homework assignment


Read the story The Red Racer by Audrey Wood to the group of students. Have the students discuss what Nona wanted in the story. Lead the discussion on: Did Nona need a new bike or did she just want a new bike? Why did she want a new bike? How did Nona try to get rid of her bicycle?


  1. Brainstorm with the students to create a list of things they need and a list of things they want.
  2. Pass out big pictures to each student from magazines that show one object in each picture.
  3. The students need to decide for themselves if their picture card shows something we need or something we want.
  4. Each child presents their picture to the group.They must tell what their picture is, whether it is a need or a want and why it fits in that grouping. The students will tape their picture card to a class graphic organizer that is divided into two sections. One labeled wants and the other labeled needs.
  5. Pass out to each student one large piece of construction paper. They will fold paper in half and label one side with the word wants and the other side with the word needs. The students will use magazines, scissors and glue to cut out pictures that show things they need and things they want. They must have at least five pictures under each heading.
  6. Put the children in cooperative groups for them to share their wants and needs paper. They must tell the group what each picture is and why they put it in the different categories. Walk around and take notes on what you see and hear while the children are sharing in their groups.
  7. Collect the papers to be used for assessment purposes.
  8. Go over homework assignment: Each student will receive an index card labeled with things my family needs and things my family wants. The student will interview someone in their family and record their answers on the index card. The students will bring the card back the next day to be used as review of needs and wants.


  • Anecdotal notes on each student as they put their picture card on the class graphic organizer. Were they able to distinguish between a need and a want? What was their reasoning? See activity 2, 3, 4.
  • Collect individual students’ magazine products to evaluate whether they were able to distinguish between needs and want? See activity 5.
  • Anecdotal notes on cooperative groups sharing time. Could the students orally explain why they put pictures into the different groupings of needs and wants? See activity 6.
  • Collect index cards that have the students interview information from their family. Did the student sort the information correctly? See activity 8.

Supplemental information

The media specialist at my school was very helpful with some picture files that she had in the library. These were very helpful with the class activity of sorting pictures between things we need and things we want. If your media specialist doesn’t have any picture files, the Sunday newspaper is a great resource for pictures.


This lesson could be used as the introduction to your unit on Economics.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.E.1 Understand basic economic concepts. 1.E.1.1 Summarize the various ways in which people earn and use money for goods and services. 1.E.1.2 Identify examples of goods and services in the home, school and community. 1.E.1.3 Explain how supply and demand...
      • Kindergarten

        • K.E.1 Understand basic economic concepts. K.E.1.1 Explain how families have needs and wants. K.E.1.2 Explain how jobs help people meet their needs and wants.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 1

  • Goal 6: The learner will apply basic economic concepts to home, school, and the community.
    • Objective 6.01: Examine wants and needs and identify choices people make to satisfy wants and needs with limited resources.