First Sunday of Lent – Needs vs. Wants

lent1A_2Here is an outline from the Sunday Connection for reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13, Jesus’ Temptation) with intermediate age kids (grades 4, 5, 6).

Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)
Older children are learning to distinguish between the things they need and the things they want. We can help them to resist negative temptations by teaching them to distinguish between needs and wants.

Materials Needed (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  • Poster with two columns: title one column “Things We Need” and the second column “Things We Want”
  • Magazines or catalogues
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

  1. Say: It is easy for us to confuse our needs and our wants. Many of the things we need are provided to us so readily that we seldom think about these things; we take them for granted. We sometimes wish for more than we need and are easily tempted to confuse things we want for things we need.
  2. Prepare a poster with two columns. Title one column “Things We Need” and the second column “Things We Want.” Tell the children to identify two or three things that they would place in each column. Distribute magazines and catalogues, scissors, and glue. Suggest that the children might find an image to represent each of these things in the magazines or catalogues. Tell them to cut out and place these images in the appropriate column of the poster. If necessary, allow them to write a single word describing what each cutout picture represents. Display the finished poster.
  3. Introduce today’s Gospel. Say: On the first Sunday of Lent, we hear about how Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert. One way to think about the temptations described in this Gospel is to describe them as temptations to want more than we need. Let’s listen carefully to this reading and think about how the devil tempted Jesus and how Jesus responded.
  4. Ask a volunteer to read aloud this Gospel, Luke 4:1-13.
  5. Ask: What were the three things that the devil tempted Jesus to do? What did the devil say that Jesus would show or receive if he gave in to each temptation? (turn stone to bread to prove he was the Son of God; worship the devil and so receive power and glory; jump off a high place to test God) Did Jesus need to show or receive any of the things the devil proposed? (no)
  6. Say: Jesus didn’t need to prove that he was the Son of God, he didn’t need power and glory, and he didn’t need to test God. Jesus knew that God would give him all he really needed. Jesus wants us to know this, too. During Lent we can practice resisting the temptation to think that we need more than we have been given. Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us to correct our perceptions about the things we “need” and the things we “want.” They remind us of our dependence on God and they help us to remember that God gives us everything we need.
  7. Say: When Jesus rebuked the devil he quoted Scripture. Each of these Scripture quotations was about having trust in God. Is there a word or phrase that you can use to remind yourself to trust God in all things? Invite the children to identify a word or phrase that will help them remember to trust God to give them everything that they need. Suggest that they use this word or phrase as a prayer during Lent.
  8. Conclude in prayer. Say: When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for God’s help to resist temptation in our lives. We say, “Lead us not into temptation.” Let’s pray this prayer together remembering that God gives us everything we really need. Pray together the Lord’s Prayer.

The Sunday Connection has outlines like this one for every Sunday of the Liturgical year for primary, intermediate, and junior high as well as for families.

Don’t forget my 40 Ideas for 40 Days as well as my Lent FAQ video!

Have a great weekend!

About Joe Paprocki 2769 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

4 Comments on First Sunday of Lent – Needs vs. Wants

  1. Hi Joe,

    We had a Lenten activity yesterday, First Sunday of Lent, with our small RE group composed of about 25 children. We had a mixed group activity, except the Pre-K had their separate activity 🙂 On regular RE Sundays we have separate sessions for different grade levels, but yesterday was a special day for the kids.

    I distributed 4 activites to 3 catechists (including myself). We used, in order of sequence, Needs vs Wants, Lenten Chain, What’s With the Pretzels, and My Lenten Calendar activities for all K to 9th graders. It was amazing to know how they knew their needs and wants so well, except for a few glitches: a deodorant was categorized as a “need”. Since there was a picture of dollar bills that went to the “need” column, we explained to them that it will depend on how you will use the bills whether to buy something you want, or need.

    While finishing up with the Needs vs Wants posters, I introduced the Lenten Chain. Boy, did we keep them busy!! Then we wrapped up on the Needs and Wants to proceed with the Pretzel activity. After the discussion and after praying the Our father altogether the kids snacked on the pretzels and juice boxes.

    While finishing the snacks, we introduced the Lenten Calendar, then finished putting together the Lenten Chains.

    For our finale, while they were busy with the chains, 14 students from 3rd to 9th grade were asked to go to their respective Stations one at a time and asked them to practice reading their prayers/lines slowly. Parents and parishioners started coming in at the Stations part since we’ve invited them during Mass to come at that time to join the students. I used the Children’s Stations of the Cross activity and concluded with an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

    We did all of the above for a bit over an hour. Whew!!

    • Wow, Carina, this is very impressive! I love how you took these ideas and adapted them to your format to create such an engaging experience for a mixed-age group! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us!

      • Just keep all your GREAT activities coming and pouring, Joe. We are so blessed to have you. Thanks for sharing your talent, time, and treasure. My prayers are always with you.

        I have been wanting (for months) to begin your Bible activity with the group; just waiting for the right time to do it with them.

        I am also going to begin a Scripture/Bible Study in the Easter. I’ve read your Leader’s Guide and would like to incorporate your ideas with what I already have from a different publication. I will let you know how it goes. Like you, I am always towards an engaging activity 😉


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