During a social studies study unit, my son and I happened upon the wants vs. needs discussion.
We talked about how needs are those that we cannot live without like food, clothing, shelter and health care.
We then went over how though we enjoy items such as toys, junk food, video games, gadgets and fancy clothes, these things qualify as wants. They are not things that we need for survival; they aren’t necessary.
After some time talking, and my son exclaiming he needs video games, I quickly realized the subject is a little difficult for children to understand.
In order to supplement our discussion with more concrete ideas and a hands-on activity, we went through a magazine, cut out pictures and made a pile of needs and wants.
Then I assigned a made up dollar amount on each item, making sure the total sum came to $150. I announced he had to survive on the $100 monopoly dollars I handed him. I instructed him to pick out which items he would purchase, reminding him what his basic needs were.
It turned out to be a great exercise. The first time around, he purchased all he wanted. I pointed out he had everything he wanted, but not a place to live or food to eat. He went through the exercise over and over,all the while having fun, each time improving on his choices. By the end, he even began to understand the concept of saving up for things that he wants but can’t afford.
For more ideas on wants vs needs activities, check out PBS Kids My Money section.
Article By Nuria Almeida
Picture By halfwaytoconcord