Finding the Seed of Need

6, 7, 8

Students will become informed about needs within the local community. Using personal experience as members of the community and information provided by a knowledgeable person in the community, students will decide where the need is greatest. Because scarcity of resources requires careful consideration, students will take a position supporting the need s/he feels is of greatest importance.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Period

The learner will:

  • distinguish between wants and needs.
  • compare the ways families and communities solve disputes about spending their scarce resources.
  • select a community need and defend it, as the most important, with supporting reasons.
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
  • Assessment Rubric for Position Paper—Essay (Handout One), one per student
  • School/Home Connection—Decisions, Decisions! Wants vs. Needs (Handout Two), one per student. Teacher Note: This must be assigned prior to beginning the lesson.
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:This school/home connection entitled, "Decisions, Decisions—Wants vs. Needs" (Handout Two) is designed to give students the opportunity to relate to the lesson from the family's perspective. The student and parent(s) or guardian will examine the wants and needs of a family when deciding how income is to be distributed to satisfy everyone's wants and needs.


Viorst, Judith. Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. New York: Aladdin Books, 1988. ISBN: 0689711999


  1. Anticipatory Set: Read the book, Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst. Ask students how they use gift and/or allowance money. Ask students the following question: "If you asked your parents, grandparents, etc. for twenty dollars, what might they ask you in return?" (Answers may include: "Why do you need the money? For what will you use the money? Are you going to spend it now or save it for something more expensive? Are you going to spend it on yourself or someone else?")


  2. Put the following words on the chalkboard: scarcity, wants, needs. Explain that because resources (money, time, talent) are scarce, we cannot always have what we want. We must take care of needs first and then use the remaining resources to satisfy our other wants. It is also important to analyze the reliability of information when making economic decisions. That is why it is helpful to research and seek knowledgeable persons in the community who can help make these decisions. This is true of personal wants and needs but also it is true for families, businesses, communities and countries.

  3. Ask students to refer to School/Home Connection—Decisions, Decisions! Wants vs. Needs (Handout Two), which they completed for homework prior to this lesson. Ask the learners to refer to Part 3 of their sheets and make a list on the chalkboard of the kinds of questions families consider when deciding how to spend their resources.

  4. After providing time to share findings, make the connection between this activity, the anticipatory set and the learning to follow by telling students that they are going to be involved in the process of decision-making. The decision relates to this first question, "What need(s) are the most critical to the well-being of our community?" Then ask the learners to answer the question, "What questions should the community consider when deciding how to spend its resources?" Discuss how the questions compare to the questions a family uses to decide how to spend its resources.

  5. Invite an individual from a local group such as community foundations, the city council, community action network, or another group which assesses local community needs. Ask this person to present local priorities of need to the students.

  6. Based on objective information presented, as well as subjective considerations from prior experience, direct students to write a position paper addressing this second question, "If we are going to give funds to support a local community need, which one do you think is of greatest importance?" Distribute Assessment Rubric for Position Paper—Essay (Handout One) and discuss it as a guide for writing and assessment.


The written essay will serve as the assessment of lesson objectives. See Assessment Rubric for Position Paper—Essay (Handout One) for assessment criteria.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.7 Identify how market economies, democracies, and families solve disputes.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.