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An inquirED Blog

2nd Grade Social Studies Curriculum: Why can’t I have everything I want?

Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.

This blog post is one in a series that breaks down one unit from each grade level of Inquiry Journeys, inquirED's core elementary social studies curriculum. For a trial account containing all lessons for the unit, click below.


2nd Grade Social Studies Curriculum Essential Question

Why can’t I have everything I want?

2nd-grade social studies students explore a variety of economic concepts, including wants, needs, saving, spending, giving, and earning. They practice working within a budget and consider how limited resources necessitate decision-making. Objectives include:

  • Distinguish between needs and wants

  • Explain why, how, and where we save, spend, and give money

  • Describe how scarcity necessitates decision-making

Lesson 1: Exploring Needs and Wants

2nd-grade social studies students explore the economic concepts of needs and wants. They practice differentiating between needs and wants while exploring why circumstances might make perspectives vary.

Lesson 2: Budgeting for Needs

2nd-grade social studies students explore the concept of needs and wants by planning meals within a set budget. They participate in a simulation using play money in order to help them evaluate the most important purchases they need to make.

Lesson 3: Saving, Spending, and Giving

2nd-grade social studies students explore the concepts of saving, spending, and giving through the book A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams. They reflect on this source to consider how they might spend, save, give, and earn money.

Lesson 4: Money Wise

2nd-grade social studies students reflect upon their learning from this module to imagine how they could choose to spend, save, and give money in the future. They explain how scarcity necessitates decision-making and why we can’t buy everything we want.

  • Access Spending and Saving by Jennifer Colby, read-aloud text through Epic!


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