How to Teach Wants and Needs in a Meaningful Way - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

How to Teach Wants and Needs in a Meaningful Way

Teaching wants and needs can be a complicated business, especially for younger children. Kindergarten students are expected to distinguish wants and needs as a skill of personal financial literacy. What not a better way than to connect this learning to something that is magical, like Christmas?!

Wants and Needs Christmas Craftivity 

As the Christmas wish books multiply in length, so does our children's lists of desired items. These lists are filled with top toys, which are difficult to find, and costly electronics. As I was teaching kindergarten, I realized that even five-year-olds were aware of the most expensive items that were much better quality than anything I possessed. (Talk about embarrassing! I had a flip phone while my five-year-old students were receiving iPhones for Christmas!)

It was after that year teaching that I became aware of the materialism at such a young age, so I began teaching wants and needs through Christmas. (Lightbulb moment!)

I usually begin my mini-unit on wants and needs by describing the wants and needs of my dog. I talk about her a lot with my students so they connect to her very easily. Jedi, my sweet puppy, NEEDS dog food, water, and a dog house. Jedi WANTS a squeaky toy, jerky treats, and a rawhide. It is a great way to get students thinking about wants and needs and it coincides with the basic needs of organisms also. Connecting math and science...awesome!

Next, I connect this to birthdays and the holiday season, when we receive gifts from others. We distinguish between needs and wants and generate a list of these items, organized in a T-chart. This is a great anchor for the culminating activity, a Christmas Craftivity. It makes a great holiday bulletin board too. (Two for one!)

The great thing about the craftivity is that all students, regardless of age or religion, can participate. I always find it difficult to do seasonal activities with diverse learners, but this craftivity lends itself well for this, which was my goal when I created it.

First, students choose a topper for their craftivity. They can choose between a happy snowman or a jolly St. Nick. I have found that it is usually an even split in the classroom between the two options. I let the students choose!

By allowing the students to choose, they are more involved and the activity has more meaning for them!

The snowman is a great option for those who do not participate in the holiday of Christmas. I have not had any difficulty using the snowman version of this for them and their families were supportive of the idea and were happy that I was considerate of their beliefs.

The snowman topper makes great with the snowballs where students will actually write down or draw pictures of the items that they need and want. The presents match with the Santa topper.

It is up to you if you would like coordinating craftivities or if you allow students to mix and match. Personally, my OCD and Type A personality can not condone interchanging the pieces. 

Another feature to support diverse learners is the primary lines or blank spaces options. Younger students may find more flexibility in the blank spaces. Older students, who have spatial reasoning, might like this as they get creative in their writing styles.

If your goal is to improve handwriting or support students in this way, you may find the primary lined option best for your students' needs.

Also, you can mix it up if there are students who could benefit from each of these options in your classroom! Judgement-free zone here! 

The final option allows you to provide support for students who are gaining fine motor skills. For my kinders, cutting around the wiggly snowball is quite difficult, so cutting around a thick black rectangular border makes this more manageable.

You can choose to include the boxes if your students need additional support cutting around shapes. If not, let the students cut around the shapes without support.

If you need to, you can mix and match based on student need.

Teachers love the flexibility of this craftivity!

Here are some examples from a second grade classroom showing varying skill levels:

What teachers are saying about this:

"So cute and a nice way to have children think about what's important...needs and wants...not usually the same thing...but not often thought about!"

"This is a great way to touch back on wants and needs and really express to my students the importance of being grateful and thankful!" 

"Love the choices of how students can create this!"

I hope this post inspired you to teach wants and needs in a meaningful way, and if you want to use my Christmas Craftivity in your classroom, you can find it in my TpT store!

I hope your students enjoy this craftivity as much as my students have in the past few years! May your wants and needs be fulfilled this holiday season and always.

Happy Crafting!

How do you teach wants and needs in your classroom?

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