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Needs Versus Wants Sorting Cards – Teaching Kids About Money


I didn’t expect to write about teaching kids about money. The other morning, I heard my five-year-old’s quick feet scurry through our house.

Before I could see his excited face he screamed: “Mom, I just found 4 pennies! What can I buy with four pennies?”

Oh, man. Not much, kid.  Good luck with that!

Well, that is what I wanted to say to him, but I didn’t.


Ah, ha! A teaching moment! I pulled out our coin jar, and a few items from nearby cabinets.

I presented a train to him and asked: “How much do you think this train costs?”

The twisted look on his face indicated that he didn’t have an educated guess.

Teaching Kids about Money

Shame on me, right? How does this happen, I thought to myself. 5 years old and no sense of value?

So, at that moment, I decided to make this year’s learning goal all about money sense. I don’t mean simply learning about how to identify coins and their value. I want to teach my children about the value, the impact of taxes, interest, tradeoffs, and, alas far less tangible, financial responsibility. Stretch goal.

I have completed a Learning about Money Beginning Activities Pack for my shop. I have a  few final touches to put on the pack and then it is all yours.


In the meantime, here is access to a FREE Needs Versus Wants Sorting Activity.

To prepare, print out, cut, and laminate for safekeeping. Or, print out and allow the children to cut and paste. Younger children will enjoy using objects to learn about money.

Special Note: I included basics in this Learning about Money sorting activity hoping not to ignite any controversy. I’d like to ignite healthy dialogue, questions, and learning amongst children and teachers, not upset anyone. The list is purely meant for learning about the idea behind “needs” and “wants”.

Teaching Kids about Money – Wants

  • Toy dump truck
  • Lego
  • Ice Cream Cone
  • Chocolate (I know, controversial)
  • Fancy Car
  • Television
  • Video Game Console
  • Skis
  • Bowl of Chips

Wants versus Needs Learning about Money

Teaching Kids about Money – Needs

  • Apple
  • Carrots
  • Girl Running (Exercise)
  • Glass of Water
  • Doctor (Health Care)
  • Home
  • Clothes
  • Warm Clothes
Teaching Kids about Money Feature

Teaching Kids about Money – Questions to Ask

  • Before the activity, ask your class to name “wants” and then make the same ask for “needs”
  • Let the children define “wants” and “needs” by asking questions like: “what is the first thing you do in the morning? how do you get home from school? what do you do when you feel hungry? what would happen if you never slept?”
  • Come up with a list together on a whiteboard, a poster board, with objects, or whatever approach will work with your children
  • Invite questions about why we need food and where food comes from, the same for water
  • Invite questions about the “non-survival” lists such as television: “Can we live without it?

I have written about “needs” versus “wants” in the past when my children were a lot younger. Now, the timing seems more pressing.

Learning about Money Activities

BUY the LEARNING ABOUT MONEY pack with over 30 Activities!

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