Understanding Needs and Wants

The excitement of making a holiday wish list is something most children look forward to each year.  For younger children, the list can sometimes be endless.  For parents, the thought of disappointing their child when the whole list cannot be purchased can be stressful.  Teaching your Cloverbuds about needs and wants might help them to understand the importance of purchasing the “needs” first and appreciating the “wants” they receive.

Children are familiar with money and spending it, but at such a young age they are often not familiar with making good spending choices.  Using this activity may help them gain a better understanding.

Supplies Needed:

  • 3” x 5” index cards
  • Writing utensils

Using the supplies, write one “need” per card that is commonly purchased for the child’s daily needs. Now, use additional index cards to write one “want” per card of items commonly purchased for the child, include items from the holiday wish list.  This activity can be done as a group, or each child can have their own set of cards.

Have a conversation with your Cloverbuds to help them understand the definitions of “need” and “want.”  Be sure they understand a “need” is something necessary to live safe and healthy.  “Want” is something that would be nice to have, but you could live without.  Now, have the children divide their index cards into a “need” pile and a “want” pile.  They might need to ask themselves, “Can I live without this?”

Once the cards are all divided out, help the Cloverbuds discuss making good spending choices.  Which items should be purchased first?  Why?  What happens if we purchase all the “wants” first?  Discuss how learning to make good spending choices can affect our ability to get everything off our “need” and “want” piles.  Ask them if they think it is hard to be the adult making the decision of what “needs” to be purchased and what they “want” to purchase.  Remind Cloverbuds to appreciate all the “needs” purchased to help them have a safe and healthy life.  Remind them to appreciate the “wants” they receive as someone has worked hard to earn the money necessary to purchase it for them.  Remind them that their holiday wish list is a great way to share ideas with others but understand in advance they may not get everything in their “want” pile.

Source: The Big Book of Cloverbud Activities. Needs and Wants, page 180.