Teaching students about needs and wants in elementary economics.

Today’s students are growing up in a world devoid of delayed gratification. They can want something today and have it delivered to their doorstep tomorrow. (Thanks, Amazon Prime!) Because of this, teaching students to recognize the difference between wants and needs is more important than ever before. Teaching these fundamental concepts helps children develop a strong understanding of financial literacy from an early age so they can make smart decisions about their personal finances, empathize towards other’s needs, and gain a deeper understanding of economic principles that impact their everyday lives.

Check out this collection of resources you can use to teach your students about wants and needs in economics:


  • Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts – This heartwarming picture book follows the story of Jeremy, who desperately wants a pair of trendy shoes, but his grandmother can only afford practical winter boots. It beautifully illustrates the distinction between wants and needs, teaching children about empathy and making responsible choices.
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams – This touching tale explores the importance of saving money to fulfill essential needs. After a fire destroys their home, a young girl, her mother, and grandmother save money in a jar to buy a comfortable chair. Through this book, students will grasp the significance of financial planning and saving for important items.
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst – Alexander receives a dollar from his grandparents and faces the challenges of deciding how to spend it. Through Alexander’s misadventures, students will understand the consequences of impulsive spending and the importance of distinguishing between wants and needs.
  • One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway – This inspiring true story follows the life of Kojo, a boy from Ghana, who uses a small loan to buy a hen. As the hen lays eggs, Kojo’s income grows, allowing him to improve his life and help others in his community. This book introduces students to the concept of entrepreneurship and how economic decisions can impact individuals and communities.


  • Needs and Wants by Teaching Without Frills – This educational video presents a clear explanation of the differences between needs and wants using real-life examples that resonate with elementary students. It effectively reinforces key concepts in a fun and engaging way.
  • Needs and Wants by BrainPop Jr. – Through colorful animations and relatable scenarios, this video helps students recognize common wants and needs in their daily lives. The clear visuals and simple explanations make it ideal for young learners.


Books and videos are a great way to introduce new concepts or deepen your students’ understanding, but you need to make that new learning stick! Studies show that taking handwritten notes during a lesson actually improves students’ memorization and word recognition skills. (Check out THIS article to learn more!)

Guided notes are a great way to introduce note taking to your elementary students. They also serve as a great reference throughout the school year. They help students to focus on only the most important concepts and vocabulary words while keeping them highly engaged in your lesson.

These guided notes from Teaching With Tara will help you teach your students about needs and wants in elementary economics.

Take your wants and needs lesson to the next level with these Wants and Needs PowerPoint Slides and Notes! They come with both full-page and interactive notebook sized notes and are completely editable to meet the needs of any classroom. Check out this resource for teaching needs and wants today!

This resource from Teaching With Tara will help you teach your students about needs and wants in elementary economics.

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Hi, I’m Tara!​

Hi, I’m Tara! I’m a third-grade teacher, curriculum creator, and lover of all things literacy. I’m on a mission to help elementary teachers by sharing ideas that will engage your students and inspire your teaching. So, take a look around. I’m so glad that you’re here!





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