Bare Necessities-Helping Others

K, 1, 2

This lesson will help students identify a person’s basic needs, realize that many people in the world are lacking the resources to meet these needs, and why this may occur. Students will be guided and encouraged to think of ways they can help people in need get the resources they need.

PrintOne 30 minute class period

The learner will:

  • differentiate between wants and needs.
  • give reasons why certain resources are necessary to sustain life.
  • compile a list of ways he/she can help people who lack basic resources.
  • Poster board and pictures of wants and needs either drawn, or cut and pasted from magazines. (see Instructional Procedure)
Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.


Adapted from the Learning to Give Lesson The Bare Necessities:


  1. Anticipatory Set: Prepare a poster with two headings: Wants and Needs. Sketch or cut out a variety of pictures from magazines of:

      1. Needs (e.g. a house, food, water, and clothing)
      2. Wants (e.g. doll or stuffed animal, DVD player, palm pilot, diamond necklace, car)

    Display the poster in front of the class and read the two words to the students. Show the pictures to the students and ask them to identify what is pictured. Explain that some of the pictures display "needs" - things that all people must have to stay alive, and that some pictures display "wants" - those things that make life easier or that we would like to have.

  2. Engage the students in a discussion about each picture and ask them tohelp you sort the pictures into the two categories. Ask for student volunteers to help you attach the pictures in the correct area on the poster. Have the students tell which items are necessities and why. For example:

      1. House – keeps you warm, provides you with a place to stay, provides you with a place to sleep, is a place to put your belongings
      2. Clothes – keep you warm, protect your body, and cover our bodies
      3. Water - our bodies need water to stay alive
      4. Food – prevents you from being hungry, gives you energy, gives you nourishment, and helps keep you healthy
  3. Share with the students that wants, such as a doll or stuffed animal might make them feel happier and safer as they go to bed, but that they could stay alive without it, and that a car would make life easier for the family to go places, but they could walk instead.

  4. Discuss with the students that some people lack basic necessities.They might not have shelter or a place to call home. Some people don't have clothes that fit properly or clothes that protect them from the cold or heat. Some people can't afford to buy enough food, or the right food, to keep their bodies healthy.

  5. Review or introduce the word "philanthropy": to give time, talent and treasure for the common good. Discuss why weshould care about others who lack the basic needs.

  6. Ask the students if they would like to be philanthropists by doing something to help people get what they need for life. In a guided discussion, have them brainstorm ways to help those who lack basic necessities. What might people have at their houses they would be willing to give? For example, people can give clothing or toys.They can give food to people who are hungry.

  7. Write the students’ ideas on the board. Have them come to consensus on one idea that they can do as a class project. Examples of projects include clothing drive, canned food drive, or toy drive.


Assessment will be based on the students’ participation in class through observation of their questions, enthusiasm, and ideas.

Cross Curriculum 

Students brainstorm ideas and come to consensus on one idea that they can do as a class project, such as put on a performance that teaches about giving and ask people to bring a needed item (food or gently used clothing) as price of admission.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.