Teaching Wants vs. Needs

Teaching the concept of thankful can be ridiculously challenging. Well I bit off a little more than I could chew and took on teaching wants vs. needs. Again a great and necessary concept to teach but it was hard for my kids! They did really well though. We did tons of examples and these word sorts were the perfect accompaniment. I think it was really good for my kids to talk about what would happen if we didn’t have these things. When I asked what would happen if we didn’t have soap – they were all like, “Ewww – we would be stinky!” Too funny. These guys crack me up.

I got the great freebie ¬†from Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbit’s. This freebie – Thanksgiving Poems, Chants, and Performance is loaded with awesome resources. I used her wants and needs sorts and they really helped teach my students this concept. I love a good sort. It really helps with discrimination.

These are the definitions we developed for needs and wants. Again kids with autism have a hard time using language to explain things – so I needed to make sure we did tons of examples and categorizing to help my kids understand the concepts.

We made class posters sorting ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and talked about each one.

Then they made their own sorts on their own.

Big poster for the hallway:

Thanks so much Reagan for a great activity!


This is perfect to work on for Thanksgiving to work on what you are thankful for!


  1. I have a Smart Notebook file that uses a graphic organizer with pictures to do something very similar (SID/PID classroom).

  2. Definitely a hard topic to teach. My class struggled with this last week!

  3. Do you have an example of how this is used in a morning meeting setting? Example would be each morning a teacher asks each student what their want and need for the day.

    • Brittany, I would work on teaching the concept first. Give the students examples and have them identify if that thing is a “want” or a “need”. They could hold up signs that say “want” or “need”, give thumbs up/down, write it on dry-erase boards, etc. Once they understand what things are “wants” and what things are “needs”, you could ask them things they need or want for that day.


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