People Making a Difference (Kindergarten)

K, 1, 2

This lesson introduces the concept of basic needs. Students will distinguish between needs and wants. They will become aware that some people lack the resources to have their basic needs met.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 25 Minute Class Period
The learner will:
  • identify the basic needs of all people as food, clothing, water and shelter.
  • understand that without the basic needs living things do not survive.
  • know the difference between basic needs and wants.
  • Chart paper or poster board
  • Cutouts or illustrations to represent the following categories of basic needs: home, food, water, clothing, hospital/medical, school
  • Tongue depressors (one per student)
  • Six-inch square pieces of paper (one for each student)
  • Strips of construction paper, about the size of the tongue depressors
  • Crayons, scissors and glue sticks
  • Four different colors of dot stickers
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.
  • Prior to the lesson, prepare a chart divided into four categories labeled: Food, Water, Shelter, and Clothing.  In addition to the words, use a symbol or picture for each category.  Use either different colored markers or stickers to color code each category.  Prepare a second chart labeled Wants.

Draw a person who has all their needs met, but some of their wants may not be met. 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the students a picture of a dog or cat that looks like it needs a home. Ask the students if they decided to take this dog or cat home, what would the pet need? Lead the students to name the basic needs of the pet—a warm home, love and attention, food, water, walks each day or a litter box. Help them distinguish between the pet’s needs and extra things people may want for the pet such as toys and sweaters.

    Teacher Note: Pictures can be found in magazines and online.

  2. Give each child a tongue depressor, the six-inch square of paper, crayons, and glue stick. Ask them to draw their head on the paper, with a smiley face, that represents them and glue it to the tongue depressor.
  3. Write on the board, “What do you need to live?” Brainstorm a list of their needs and record their responses on the chart paper. Their responses could also be done with pictures.
  4. Students may give wants as needs (i.e. a bike, computer). List the wants separately and stress the difference.
  5. Focus the discussion on basic needs. It is important that the students understand that without these basic needs they would not survive. Tell the students that some people don’t have access to the four basic needs.
  6. Group the responses into categories with the general headings of food, water, shelter, and clothing. Above each category, place a symbol or picture to represent the group.
  7. Give each student one dot sticker of each color. As you pass out the stickers, tell them that you are giving them food, water, shelter (a home and someone to take care of them), and clothes. Tell them to put the stickers on their tongue depressor to show that they have all their needs met today.
  8. Have students wave their happy, healthy stick puppets of themselves in the air to celebrate that their whole community has all their basic needs.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Define philanthropy and charity.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of philanthropic traditions of diverse cultures.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.