Keywords: consumerism, wants versus needs, benefits of trees, wood products; Grade Level: third grade (ES); Total Time for Lesson: 45-60 minutes as one continuous time block; Setting: classroom

Materials Required

  • The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

  • a large number of old magazines, at least one or two per student

  • scissors

  • glue and tape

  • class poster or bulletin board titled "Things We Get from Trees" and divided into two sections, "wants" and "needs"

Concepts to Be Covered

  • People rely on trees for both products and pleasures.

  • Each individual views wants and needs differently.

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will distinguish between wants and needs and recognize individual differences.

  • Students will list objects that we either make from trees or that are produced by trees.

  • Students will locate and identify pictures of products that are tree related in magazine.

Environment and Ecology Standard: 4.2.4B

Subject: social studies, language arts


  • Student responses

  • Student involvement and completion of activity

Introduction to the Lesson

Call students to reading area and tell students that the story you are about to read tells of things a boy gets from a tree. Show the cover and ask students to predict what these things might be. Discuss with students if the things mentioned are a "want" or a "need." Talk with students about some of their "wants" and "needs."


  1. Read story aloud to students. Stop periodically to discuss with students if what the boy gets from the tree are "wants" or "needs" and have students explain their response.

  2. After reading have students recall what the boy got from the tree. Have them name things we get from trees and list them on the board.

  3. After you have compiled a good sized list, go back through the list and ask students which are "wants" and which are "needs." Have students explain their responses.

  4. Explain to students that when they return to their seats that their task will be to look through magazines and find 10 products each that are either made from trees or produced by trees. Then have the students cut them out. Have them evaluate each item they have cut out and decide whether it is a "want" or a "need" to them and create two different piles. They are then to glue them onto the class "Things We Get from Trees" board in the "want" or "need" section. Have students return to their seats, and begin activity.

  5. After the board is finished have students examine the contents in each section. Engage students in discussion on whether or not they agree with the items that were placed in each section. Ask if everyone agrees on where the items are placed. Are everyone's "wants" the same? How about their "needs"?

  6. Review the activity with students. What can they conclude?


Valerie M. Liptak, West Branch Elementary