Comparing Needs and Wants

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12030

You may want ice cream when you are sick, but you need medicine. What if you only have enough money for one of those? You may want a fancy raincoat but can only afford a plain one. Does that matter?


Health and Wellness

Life Skills
learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
PreK/K, Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What is the difference between the following items?

In the previous Needs and Wants lessons, found under Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about the difference between needs and wants.

Explain the difference between a need and a want to your teacher or parent. Then, tell them the four things all humans need to live. Needs can be defined as things humans must have to live, whereas wants are things we would just like to have. Wants are not essential to human life. All humans need food, water, shelter, and clothing to survive. These items make sure humans are nourished, warm, dry, and safe.

You will watch a video to review what you have learned about needs and wants. As you watch the video, discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent:

  • What examples of needs are shown in the video?
  • What examples of wants are shown in the video?
  • What things does Larry the fish want? What does Larry the fish need?
  • What should you always take care of first?

Watch Needs versus wants - GetWise | ASB to review what you have learned and to find the answers to the above questions:

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When you are finished watching the video, tell your teacher or parent two examples of needs and two examples of wants that are not shown in the video.

Sometimes, items can be a need and a want. Below, you will see the same images from the beginning of the lesson:

Both of the items shown above are food items. While humans need food to survive, some food items are more of a want than a need.

  • When you look at the two pictures, which food item is a need and which food item is a want?

The orange is a need. Humans need fruits and vegetables because these food items have vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins and nutrients are things our bodies require to help us grow healthy and strong. The cotton candy is a want. While cotton candy is a delicious snack, it does not have any vitamins or nutrients. That means cotton candy does not provide our body with anything we need to grow healthy and strong.

  • Can you think of another example where an item is both a need and a want?

Tell your teacher or parent. Clothes can sometimes be a need, but they can also be a want. For example, you may need a winter coat for the freezing months, but do you need the most expensive coat at the store? More than likely, a coat at any price range will meet the need of keeping you warm in the winter.

When you are ready, move on to the Got It? section to practice comparing wants and needs.

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