Defining Family Needs and Wants

Students work to define the terms “needs” and “wants,” then apply them to family dynamics. Through reading, students learn how to make the distinction between needs and wants, and identify this distinction through visual representation. They develop and demonstrate their understanding through a guided activity.

Materials & Prep

“Needs and Wants” article  (Lexile 210 - 400, 1 per student)


"Needs and Wants Card Sort" activity (1 prepared set per pair)


“Needs and Wants” slide presentation (projected mirror text for shared reading)


“Needs and Wants Exit Ticket” handout (1 per student)

Objectives & Assessment

Use evidence from the text to identify or describe needs and wants


Classify needs and wants with accuracy through sorting and handout task


Give an example to describe a specific need and a want



1. Student pairs make guesses about needs and wants using the “Needs or Wants Card Sort” activity:

  • Model how to put the “Need” and “Want” cards at the top of their work space to designate categories.

  • Read each word card aloud to help students identify the words, but encourage them to choose how to sort them (do not confirm or correct the sorting, or define the words).



2. Facilitate a text preview of the “Needs and Wants” article.

  • State the purpose: Students use the text to learn more about needs and wants.

  • Pairs take 5 minutes to examine the text, identifying familiar words and making observations about the images.

  • Students share predictions and inferences about the text, citing the evidence that supports their responses.


3. Facilitate a shared reading using the "Needs and Wants” slide presentation as a mirror text, pausing to discuss throughout.

  • Read the slide aloud that matches the student text, or allow students to read some sections, if appropriate.

  • After reading, confirm the vocabulary terms need (a thing you must have to be safe and healthy; ex. food, water, and shelter), and want (a thing you would like to have, but that you do not need to live; ex. candy, TV).


4. Facilitate a second reading of the “Needs and Wants” article; students practice reading together in pairs, or read together as a class.

5. Revisit the “Needs and Wants Card Sort” from the Opening; students adjust their cards to reflect new understanding.

  • Review responses:

    • Make a t-chart on the board or chart paper, and title the columns “Needs” and “Wants” (or use a copy of the “Needs and Wants Card Sort” in a pocket chart).

    • Read and hold up the cards from the Card Sort one by one; facilitate a conversation about needs vs. wants to determine if the words are placed in the correct columns and why or why not.

6. Ask students to provide some more examples of each word. Prompts may include:

  • What are some things that families need?

  • What are some things that families want?

  • Why can't we have everything we want?




7. Students complete the “Needs and Wants Exit Ticket” handout.

  • Encourage students to revisit the text to find evidence and confirm responses.

8. Use an equitable discussion strategy to reflect on the essential question: “How can family members take care of one another?”

Learning Experience