Marshmallow Madness: Needs vs. Wants

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  Hebrews 13:5

There is a difference between needs and wants.  Gather around a table, and place a few carrots, cucumbers or other healthy snacks in front of each family member.  In the center of the table, place a platter of marshmallows.  Ask what life would be like without marshmallows. Then ask what life would be like without vegetables.  Ask everyone to take a bite of their healthy snack then discuss and then a marshmallow:  What is the difference between vegetables and marshmallows? (Veggies don’t taste as good; vegetables are a need, marshmallows are wants.) If you had to choose between unlimited veggies for a week, or only 10 marshmallows, which would you choose?  Share:  We can survive without marshmallows because our bodies don’t need them to keep us alive.  But if we didn’t have vitamins from healthy food we wouldn’t feel well at all.  This is the difference between needs and wants.  Have each person draw a picture of things they touch or use in a typical day (beds, clothes, food, toys, books, etc.)  Circle the ones that are needs.  Remember to explain that what some people consider to be a “need” could be considered a luxury to someone in a different socioeconomic situation. (Example: pillow, variety in food, snacks, warm baths, etc.) Discuss:  If you had a limited amount of money to spend, and you owned nothing, which things on your list would you buy first? (A bed, house, clothing.)  What does this tell us about the way we spend our money? (Most is spent on “wants”; we really don’t have many things we have to buy.)  Share:  A wise spender doesn’t use all of his money for “wants” or luxuries before taking care of the needs.  To be wise spenders, we must first take care of the things that are most important, and then we can think about buying some of the things that are “wants.”  Close in prayer thanking God for His provision in providing for the family and taking care of our needs, and asking for wisdom in using money the best way possible to live a life glorifying to Him.

{This weekly activity was adapted from an excellent free resource called Heritage Builders. They provide free bulletin inserts each month to encourage parents to make family time a priority. Check ’em out!}

Finish off with a quick family prayer. God cares about every area of our lives; let’s encourage the children to pray about whatever is on their hearts. Add to your prayer journal weekly, and be sure to leave space to jot down a quick note when God answers the prayer. Your kids will grow stronger in their faith when they can look back and see what the Lord has done.How did this work for you? Did you adapt it to fit your family?
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