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Public Education Educator Resources Needs Vs Wants K-2

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson, students will understand the difference between wants and needs and how they are different for each living thing.


Grade Levels



National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

7-Production, Distribution and Consumption


Materials Needed

Index cards




  • Introduce the lesson by explaining that things we want are sometimes different from things we need.
  • You can give examples, such as we need nutritious food, but we want ice cream.
  • All living things have needs and wants and they are not always the same.
  • For example, a dog needs dog food, but wants dog treats. A person needs water, but wants a milkshake. Both dogs and people have wants and needs, but their wants and needs are not always the same.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling

  • Ask students to generate responses to the question, “What things give us a happy life?”
  • Students should write each of their answers on index cards using one color marker.
  • Help begin this activity by coming up with a few examples yourself and help the students complete their cards.
  • Tell the students that all living thing have needs and wants.
  • Share with them the article about what dogs need: Dog Needs
  • Have them read about dog needs and make a list of dog needs/wants on index cards using a different color marker.


Guided Practice and Student Work

  • Divide the class into small groups.
  • Ask each group to combine their cards and sort them into two categories: needs and wants for both humans and dogs.
  • Students may debate whether something is a need or a want.
  • Help students explore what is common to all living things and also what is different. (Ask, for example, what things do we ALL need? Can you give me an example of something that some people may need or want but others don’t?)

Review and Closing

  • All living things have needs and wants. Some needs are similar and some are different. Since humans are responsible for taking care of a dog’s needs, what are some ways that we can be responsible dog owners?


Before you Buy a Dog. (n.d.) Retrieved from