Helping Children in Need

K, 1, 2

The students will distinguish the difference between wants and needs. They distinguish between wants and needs by completing an activity in which they must categorize items into wants or needs.  Students learn that many times refugees are without basic needs. They respond to a story about a refugee camp, Four Feet, Two Sandals. They come to consensus on a service project to benefit refugees or others in need and plan and implement a student-driven service project. The students create a "story quilt" about their service project as a reflection.

PrintTwo 20-30 Minute Class Sessions and additional time to plan and complete a class service project

The learner will:

  • distinguish between wants and needs.
  • evaluate items and categorize them into wants and needs.
  • compare and contrast information about themselves with information gathered and synthesized about refugees.
  • define philanthropy as giving time, talent and treasure for the common good.
  • plan and implement a service project to benefit refugees or other people in need.
  • reflect on their service project.
  • Chart paper labeled Needs and Wants
  • Magazines with pictures that can be cut up
  • Scissors
  • Read-aloud copy of Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams (See Bibliographical References)

needs - something necessary or indispensable: food, shelter, and other necessities of life

wants - something wanted or desired.

volunteer: one who offers him/herself in service of his/her own free will

resources: available supply or support that can be drawn on when needed or wanted

common good: working together for the greater benefit of all; promotes the welfare of the community

philanthropy: the giving of one's time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good

service: help given to others


Have the students share what they know about quilts (e.g. they are warm, soft, cuddly, usually made out of pieces of materials sewn together, etc) . Quilts can be used to tell a story just like Mai's whispering cloth told a story. Provide each student with a 8 1/2 ” by 5 1/2" sheet of paper (an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper cut in half). Tell the students that they will be helping to make a “quilt” and that each person will contribute one piece to be added to the quilt. Have each student draw a picture of what they did during the collection drive using crayons or markers. When they have completed their drawings, have them take turns showing their “quilt piece” and telling the class about their drawing which will then be added to the “quilt.”  Link the "quilt" pieces together using staples, tape, or paper clips (punch two holes in each side of a picture and use the paper clips like chain links to connect the pictures). Ask the children to suggest a title for their quilt display, such as: We Are Philanthropists, Our Caring Quilt, How We Helped People in Need.  Display the “quilt” on a wall in a public area of the school or local library along with the student title. You may arrange for other classes or families to view the "quilt" while members of the class explain its meaning. Optional - use squares of fabric and fabric markers or crayons and enlist the help of a community volunteer to sew the quilt squares together.



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Define needs and wants to students. After reading the definitions, further the explanation by saying, a need is something you must have to stay healthy, like food, water, clothing, and shelter. A want is something that you would like to have. For instance, you need some kind of shoes to protect and keep your feet warm but you may want a pair of fancy new tennis shoes that light up when you jump.

  2. Posta large piece of chart paper horizontally on a wall and divide it vertically into two parts. Label one side Needs and the other side Wants.

  3. Distibute the magazines and ask the students to find and cut out one picture of something they think is a "need" and one picture of something they think is a "want." Allow students to work with a partner or individually to complete this task.

  4. Ask for volunteers to show their pictures and hold a class discussion about whether the picture belongs in the need or want side of the display area. Allow the students to glue their pictures in the correct area.

  5. Session Two

    Anticipatory Set:

    Remind the students of the Needs and Wants display they created. Tell the students that refugees and other people, including many children like themselves, are without the resources to fulfill their basic needs and that you will be reading to them a book about a refugee. Explain that this story takes place in the Afganistan/Pakistan area (show on a map or globe). There are over 20 million refugees in camps all around the world, many of them are women and children who have had to flee their homes because they were afraid of being hurt.

  6. Show the book cover and explain that just as people can do acts of philanthropy to help others, there are organizations or groups of people whose special mission is to help refugees. Many of these groups build "refugee camps" to provide the basic needs of shelter, water, food, and clothing and to help the refugees find new, permanent homes. Read the title of the book and ask what they observe about the refugee camp on the cover illustration.

  7. Read aloud the book Four Feet, Two Sandals. Help students reflect on the message during and after reading the story using the following discussion quide:

    1. The relief workers provided clothing and shoes. Where do you think these came from?
    2. The girls waited in line to get water from a well. Who built the well in the refugee camp?
    3. Who arranged for people to get on the list to go to a new home?
    4. Who are the philanthopists in this story?
  8. Tell the students that in addition to the refugee organizations they learned about through the poster How Does It Feel? and stories The Whispering Cloth and Four Feet, Two Sandals, there are also organizations that help children in need right in their own communities. Name some of the local relief organizations the children might or might not be familair with in your location, such as The Salvation Army, Goodwill, a local food pantry and/or a homeless shelter. Ask if any of the children have heard of these organizations and what they know about them. Ask if they would like to act as philanthropists and support the work of one of these organizations by holding a collection drive to collect items for people in need.

  9. Engage the students in a discussion of what needed items they might collect such as clothing, shoes, baby items, personal care products, blankets, coats, books. (Contact the local organization to find out their needs first.)

  10. Guide the students in coming to consensus on a class service plan. Guide them in making decision related to their chosen collection drive, including who they will ask to donate, how they will ask, when will they collect the items, what kinds of containers they might need to hold the collected items, and to whom will the items be donated.

  11. After the collection drive is successfully completed, use the activity in the Reflections ection of this lesson to help the students recognize their impact and celebrate their success.


Assess student skill to differentiate between needs and wants. Assess student participation during discussions and the use of new vocabulary words. Assess students participation and leadership in planning and implementing the service project.

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.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name and recognize the civil society sector as a separate part of the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify the similarities in philanthropic behavior among people of different cultural backgrounds.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify why private resources (volunteers and money) are needed.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.