Assignment Sheet Human Needs


In this lesson, students watch video clips of animals and plants in their natural environment, to gather evidence that all living things have basic needs that must be met in order to survive. Then, to illustrate their understanding of this concept, students draw pictures of real or imaginary pets eating, drinking, breathing, and taking shelter (from the elements or from other animals).


  • Understand that in order to survive, animals need air, water, food, and shelter, and plants need air, water, nutrients, and light
  • Identify the ways in which an organism's habitat supports its basic needs
  • Recognize that organisms cause changes to the environment in which they live

Grade Level: K-2, 3-5

This lesson is appropriate for students in all elementary grades. Activities, multimedia resources, and materials for students in grades 3-5 are specially designated.

Suggested Time

  • Three 30- to 40-minute blocks

Multimedia Resources

For students in grades 3-5:

Use these resources to create a simple assessment or video-based assignment with the Lesson Builder tool on PBS LearningMedia.


  • Plain white paper, Crayons or markers

For students in grades 3-5:

Before the Lesson

For students in grades 3-5:

  • Make a copy of the handout for each student.

Background Information

In order to survive, animals need air, water, food, and shelter (protection from predators and the environment); plants need air, water, nutrients, and light. Every organism has its own way of making sure its basic needs are met. It is important that young children be given the opportunity to recognize these needs by observing and then describing the natural world.

The Lesson

Part I

1. Have students brainstorm answers to the following questions:

  • What do living things need to stay alive?
  • What do you need? What do your pets need?
  • What do plants need?

Record students' answers on easel paper or on the chalkboard.

2. Show students the What Do Animals Eat? video. Ask:

  • Why do animals need to eat?
  • What kinds of things do they eat?
  • Do all living things eat?
  • Do plants eat?

Explain that animals need to eat for energy; plants don't eat but they still need energy. Ask:

  • "Where do plants get energy?

3. Have students watch the Beavers video. For students in grades K-2, alert them to look for things that beavers need to stay alive.

For students in grades 3-5, distribute a copy of the handout. Have students record the needs of the beavers as they watch the clip.

4. Discuss the following questions:

  • What do beavers need to stay alive?
  • Where do they get what they need?
  • What changes do beavers make to their environment?
  • How do the beaver's activities help other organisms living in the same environment?

Part II

5. Have students in grades K-2 watch the Biome in a Baggie video. Tell them to look for things that plants need to stay alive.

Have students in grades 3-5 watch the Photosynthesis video. Then have them answer the two related questions on the handout. Encourage them to watch the video multiple times.

6. Discuss the following questions:

  • What do plants need to stay alive?
  • Where does their food (energy source) come from?
  • How do plants absorb water?
  • What things do plants need that animals don't?
  • What things do animals need that plants don't?
  • How do you know plants are living things?

7. End this part of the lesson by asking students whether they want to make any changes to the list of basic needs compiled at the start of the lesson (in Step 1).

Optional Activity for Students in Grades 3-5

8. Both plants and animals need air. To help students understand that plants need carbon dioxide (a gas that animals exhale) and that animals need oxygen (a gas that plants produce), have students explore "The Cycle" feature within the Illuminating Photosynthesis Web activity. Focus on the gases plants and animals need, not on understanding the process of photosynthesis.

Have students explore the Web activity with a partner and work together to complete the handout.

9. Distribute white paper and markers or crayons to students.

10. Review the needs of living things.

11. Have students draw a picture of a real or imaginary pet. Tell students to show their pet enjoying food, water, air, and shelter -- having all its needs met. Label the "needs" represented in the drawing.

12. Optional:

  • Discuss how the needs of beavers might come into conflict with the needs of humans, using the following scenario: What would happen if beavers built a dam across [insert the name of a nearby river or stream]? How would it impact people in your town?
  • Have students make a Biome in a Baggie as described in the ZOOMSci video clip of the same name.
  • Have students plant some seeds and record the growth of the plants under different light conditions.

In this lesson students will:

  • Review and apply the information they have learned from watching the documentary and from Activities One and Two
  • Plan a negotiating strategy along with other members of their group (with each group representing either the U.S. or North Korea)
  • Negotiate an agreement that limits or stops nuclear development in North Korea AND addresses some of the basic human needs North Koreans face.

Note: If your school participates in Model United Nations, club members or the club sponsor would be good resources for negotiation strategies. Information about starting a Model United Nations Club is at:

  • Computers with Internet access
  • Student Assignment Sheet: Preparing to Negotiate
  • Student Assignment Sheet: Charting Escalation

Approximately 90 minutes (45 minutes to prepare in groups and complete the Assignment Sheet, 45 minutes to meet in negotiations)

A. Divide students into two groups to prepare for negotiations. One group will represent North Korea and the second group will represent the United States. Hand out Student Assignment Sheet to help students organize their thoughts.

Group#1: This group will use the following Web sites to assemble as much information as possible about the culture and politics of North Korea and the North Korean position regarding nuclear weapons. (Note: Remind students of media literacy issues here. Since North Korea's Web sites are highly controlled, we simply cannot find some information we would like to know.)

Note: The North Korean Web sites do not mention the pervasive famine that has plagued the country and its people. Some sites that do discuss famine are:, which gives an overview of the politics of famine, and, which focuses on one family's dramatic story.

Group #2: This group will assemble as much information as possible about the U.S. position using the following Web sites.

B. The groups representing North Korea and the U.S. will meet separately to explore their positions (using information from the documentary and from the Web sites); to identify their respective long and short-term needs, interests, fears, and/or concerns; and to brainstorm ideas and resources for a potential agreement. For the purposes of this exercise, students should use the terms positions and interests as follows
Positions: a statement of what a person or country wants
Interests: underlying needs or why the person or country wants something

Note: At this point, teachers might introduce the following ways of handling conflict, asking each group to consider what means might be acceptable to them during their negotiations. Students who are part of the school's peer mediation team might also be leaders here. "Five Ways to Handle Conflict," below, comes from a training program designed for high school peer mediation teams by Community Mediation Services, Inc, (

Five Ways to Handle Conflict:
Compromise: two parties work to figure out a solution wherein they both give up something as well as get something
Confrontation: two parties engage in verbal argument or physical conflict
Accommodation: one party allows the other party to have its way, even though it means disregarding its own needs.
Avoidance: one party chooses to avoid or neglect the problem they have with the other party.
Collaboration: two parties state a problem to one another and work through to a mutual solution.

C. Each side will choose three spokespersons. Other students will be advisors, who must submit at least two written notes or comments to their spokespersons during the negotiations. The spokespersons will then negotiate. Hand out Student Assignment Sheet: Charting Escalation to help students chart the progress of the negotiations.

  1. After the negotiations, discuss students' reactions to the negotiating process and their findings on the issues that escalated or de-escalated them.
  2. Each student must write a two-page persuasive essay in the form of a letter to either Kim Jong Il or to President George Bush addressing the following issues and advising the leaders how to proceed:
    • Where is this conflict going?
    • What are some possible outcomes?
    • How should they avoid further escalation?

History teachers whose students may have been studying World War II and the Cold War may want to take this opportunity to have several students prepare a brief review of factors leading to the Cold War. For teachers whose curriculum has not yet reached this period in history, a brief overview with a focus on Yalta and the Cuban missile crisis is available at:

A more complete Cold War site, with links to key events for each decade from the 1940s to the 1990s is at:

More able students might find grappling with the February 2003 opinion piece, "Coping With North Korea," interesting.

Many communities may have veterans of the Korean War, Koreans adopted by American families, Korean immigrants or descendants of immigrants living in their midst. Ask students to find (through local chapters of Veterans of Foreign Wars or through churches and community groups) some veterans who are willing to talk about their experiences in Korea or other community members with background or ties to Korea.

The following Web site contains a U.S. map with links to chapters of the Korean War Veterans Association for each state:

Before sending students off to interview veterans or Korean-Americans, brainstorm with them to discover what they might want to ask, and how they might proceed to find out about the veterans' experiences, or the lives of Korean immigrants or adoptees. Come up with a list of at least six questions they might ask.

The Scholastic Web site at: has a short introduction to how to start doing interviews for oral histories.

How to Deal with North Korea
This article from Foreign Affairs offers suggestions on how the U.S. should handle the current conflict:

First Person Plural
This documentary tells the story of a young Korean girl adopted by an American family. In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and was sent from Korea to her new home. Growing up in California, the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated until recurring dreams lead Borshay Liem to discover the truth: her Korean mother was very much alive. Bravely uniting her biological and adoptive families, Borshay Liem's heartfelt journey makes First Person Plural a poignant essay on family, loss, and the reconciling of two identities.

0 thoughts on “Assignment Sheet Human Needs”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *