This activity will help kids understand how advertising fuels their desire for more stuff.

Use this activity to teach your children to fight the temptation to want more stuff and learn to be content:

Supplies: You will need a television, paper, pencil and Bible. (Note: If you’d prefer not to use a television, substitute various magazines instead.)

Activity: Gather everyone around the TV for this activity. Since you will be flipping channels in search of adverts, keep a remote control handy.

Share: We’re going to watch television, but we’re not going to watch a regular show. We’re going to look for adverts and play a simple game as we watch them. When you see an ad, call out what you think it’s trying to sell. If you see a restaurant advert, you might call out “hamburgers.” I’ll make a list of everything you call out.

  • After compiling a large list, read it aloud and discuss the following questions.
  • When you see things that interest you in adverts, how do you feel?
  • How do advertisements make us want more stuff?
  • What does an advert do or say to get you to believe you need that item?
  • How is this goal similar to tricking people?

For biblical application, read Matthew 4:1-11 with your family. Consider these questions:

  • How did Satan try to deceive Jesus like adverts try to trick you?
  • How did Jesus deal with the temptation to have more “stuff”?
  • What can we learn from this story about temptation?

Now read Hebrew 13:5; talk about what it means to want more things. Remind everyone that God has promised to take care of our needs. Ask each family member to complete the following sentence: “One way I can be happy with what I have is to …”

If you haven’t tried taking a break from TV or the Internet, now might be a good time to suggest it to your children. You could use the extra time for other family activities or to serve others in the community.

Learning the Differences Between Wants and Needs

This activity will help kids understand why we should spend money on what we truly need before all else.

Help your children learn the difference between wants and needs.

Supplies: You’ll need paper, pencils, glasses of drinking water and a fizzy drink.

Activity: Place one glass of cold water on the table for each family member. In the centre of the table, place a glass filled with a favourite fizzy drink. Ask family members to act out what life would be like if they didn’t have fizzy drinks (then go pour the drinks into the sink). If your family enjoys frequent or even an occasional fizzy drink, responses could range from “oh, well” to panic.

Now have the family act out what life would be like without water — or any liquid that has water in it. Responses could range from clutching at the throat to falling on the floor in mock death.

Bring everyone back to “life” with a drink of water. Then discuss these questions:

  • What is the difference between water and a fizzy drink?
  • If you had to choose between unlimited glasses of water for a week or a 2 litre of a favourite soda, which would you choose and why?

Share: We can survive without fizzy drinks because our bodies don’t need them to keep us alive. But if we didn’t have water, we could not survive. This illustrates the difference between wants and needs. Let’s look at this difference another way.

Give each family member a sheet of paper and a pencil. Have each person draw or list all the things they touch or use in a typical day. Help children circle the items on their lists that are needs. For example, someone might circle an item of clothing because it is necessary for our society. Keep in mind that what some may consider a “need,” others could think of as a luxury.

Now ask:

  • If you had a limited amount of money to spend, and you owned nothing, which things on your list would you buy first?
  • What does this paper tell us about the way we spend our money?

Share: A wise spender doesn’t use all his money for “wants” before taking care of 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 luxuries. 

Adapted from Heritage Builders’ Money Matters Family Night Tool Chest Focus on the Family