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Are you smarter than a 1st grader? Wants and Needs

In a Junior Achievement class with 1st graders, each student had two cards in front of them. One said ‘Wants’. The other said ‘Needs’.

Their instruction…when I hold up a poster they have to freeze for 3 seconds. I’ll count to 3 and when they unfreeze, they pick up the card that shows if the item in the poster is a ‘want’ or a ‘need’.


18 ‘Want’. 1 ‘Need’.
When I asked the little girl why it might be a need, she suggested that if she were blind and it was a seeing-eye puppy, she would need it.

Winter Coat:
18 ‘Need’. 1 ‘Want’.
When I asked the little boy why it might be a want instead of a need, he said he already had one winter coast. A second one would be a ‘want’.

These kids understand wants and needs very well. When do they lose that understanding?

Consider teaching Junior Achievement classes in a school near you next year. They provide all the props, the lesson plans, the posters, the games. The teachers stay in the room and provide any support that you need.

As financial professionals, you could bring real-world examples to the material. Give it some thought. You’ll feel good and do good at the same time! Please email me if you’d like to know more about how it works.

About the Author
Linda Keith CPA is an expert in credit risk readiness and credit analysis. She trains banks and credit unions throughout the United States, both in-house and in open-enrollment sessions, on Tax Return and Financial Statement Analysis. She is in the trenches with lenders, analysts and underwriters helping them say "yes" to good loans. Creator of the Tax Return Analysis Virtual Classroom at, she speaks at banking associations on risk management, lending and director finance topics.
  1. Income Tax Calculator

    Isn’t it just amazing what a 1st grader knows, I watch the show all the time and I am still stumped.