Carol Cheatwood
  This learning activity was part of the project sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation to prepare Families First recipients for home ownership and an action research grant given by the Tennessee Department of Human Services to create work-focused Families First classrooms. This activity was the first of three in this series: (1.) Determining Needs vs. Wants (2.) Realtor Role-Play (3.) Searching for Dream Homes on the Internet

  Consumer education, Critical thinking, Job skills, Writing skills

Learner Level:
  Grades 6.0-12.9

Time Frame:
  1-2 hours, depending on class size

Learner Grouping:
  Whole Class

  At the time of the lesson, I had six Families First learners attending. Five of the six were working on their GED. All adult learners were working on attaining work skills necessary on the job. Learners were studying the Fannie Mae curriculum, "How to Buy Your Own Home."

Families First is the Tennessee program that provides training for those welfare recipients who lack basic education skills. While learners do work toward a GED, emphasis in these classes is shifting toward the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learners need to acquire and keep a good job.

  Not available

  Lawrence County Adult Learning Center

Type of Program:

Student Population Served:
  Basic skills (grade levels 5-8.9)

Determining needs vs. wants

After a discussion on needs vs. wants in home buying, learners write a detailed description of their dream home. The learners then categorize each of their listed home features as a need or a want. __________________________________________________________

Learning Objective:
Learners will be able to discriminate between a need and a want in home buying in a written exercise following this discussion.

Primary Skill:
Reflect and evaluate

Secondary Skills:
Communication, Lifelong learning, Decision making

Learner Needs & Goals:
In informal conversations about home ownership, it became apparent that both the type of house these adult learners were thinking of and the idea that they might some day purchase a home were in the "daydream" category. Discussing and determining the difference between needs and wants helped them make the daydream more realistic and therefore more possible.

Learning Activity Description:

  1. Learners write for 15 minutes in their journal describing their dream home in as much detail as possible.

  2. Ask for volunteers to read their descriptions aloud. (The instructor may collect writings and randomly read aloud if the group does not normally volunteer.)

  3. Distribute a copy of the local Home Guide. Ask learners to look through the guide to see if they can find their "dream home." If they find their dream home, ask them to make an enlarged copy of it on the copy machine.

  4. Discuss the differences between "needs" and "wants." If you need to, look in a dictionary for definitions and write on the board. Discuss how employers need their employees to be able to determine needs vs. wants to maintain cost effectiveness. Also, explain that sometimes we have to make decisions to determine what is really a "necessity" and what is a "would like to have" item. Make a list on the board of needs and wants. The "needs" list might include nutritious food, clothing, housing, transportation, water, etc. The "wants" list might include candy, a swimming pool, a sport utility vehicle, designer clothes, a cell phone, and so on. The discussion as to which list to put an item on will help to solidify the difference between needs and wants.

  5. On clean sheets of paper folded lengthwise, learners write the word "Needs" at the top of one side and the word "Wants" at the top on the other side of the paper. Learners then categorize the features of their "Dream Home" in the "needs" column or the "wants" column. They may use either the home they wrote about in their journals or the one they found a picture of in the Home Guide.

  6. Divide the class into groups of two or three and ask each other to justify the choices they made on their lists. If they cannot adequately justify an item in the "needs" column, then they should be asked to move it to the "wants" column. Have learners review their revised lists.

Materials and Resources:

  1. Paper and pencil for each learner
  2. White board and dry erase markers
  3. Locally distributed Home Guides (free locally each month at convenience stores and grocery stores)

Learners will have compiled a more accurate list of needs and wants. They will use this list in the following lessons "Realtor Role-Play" and "Searching for Dream Homes on the Internet."

This activity involved all learners as they practiced skills necessary for the workplace. My learners explored the idea of living in a home of their own and they experienced some of the kinds of decisions they would have to make before deciding on what kind of home would best meet their needs. My class enjoyed looking through the home guides because they began to realize that all homes are not as expensive as they had first thought. Some learners were even able to realize the need to be able to discriminate between needs and wants when making purchases other than a home.


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