What Will You Need?

3, 4, 5

During this lesson students use what they have learned about needs and wants to determine what items they would take with them if they were forced to flee their homes. Students make decisions as to what things they must leave behind. They learn that many times refugees must leave their homes with a few items or nothing at all.

PrintTwo 45-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • research and describe features of different geographical regions.
  • identify issues and needs in different regions.
  • analyze essential needs when resources are scarce.
  • analyze the benefits and costs of sharing scarce resources.
  • discuss motivations for acting philanthropically.
  • decide when it is beneficial to the common good and to their own self-interest to share scarce resources.
  • copies of Handout One: My Backpack for each student
  • On the UNHCR site are maps of the different regions which UNHCR services.
  • resources for student research on various geographic locations
  • copies of Handout Two: Research Guide for each student
  • Optional: LEGO poster What's Wrong Here 
Teacher Preparation 

If internet access is not available for the students to do the research, in advance download and print information about several countries for the research groups to use.

  • common good: working together for the greater benefit of all; promotes the welfare of the community
  • resources:  available supply or support that can be drawn on when needed or wanted
  • needs: something necessary or indispensable: food, shelter, and other necessities of life

UNHCR LEGO Poster: What's Wrong Here

United Nations. Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml This resource from the United Nations is an electronic version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UNHCR. Human Rights https://www.unhcr.org/4693806f2.html This resource from the UNHCR is an abbreviated electronic version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UNHCR. Maps https://www.unhcr.org/ga10/index.html On this site are maps of the different regions which UNHCR services.


  1. As a whole group,use the Global Appeal link at https://www.unhcr.org/ga10/index.html (see above) to choose regions of interest to research. Allow students to form into groups according to their interest in researching an area.

    • The students will use the maps to: Locate the UNHCR offices in the area (have students think of how far a refugee would have to travel to get to help, what obstacles they might encounter, what climate would they have to contend with, etc.) Locate the region on a globe or world map.
    • The students will use other resources to: Determine the issues causing concern to the people of the area or the issues causing people to flee the area. Research the terrain of the area. Research the climate of the area. Any other information that can add to the students’ understanding of the issues people of the region must deal with.
  2. Say to students, "Now that you are more familiar with your region and have found a safe place to live, your family must leave your home the next morning. (Mention to students that refugees usually must flee quickly—often in minutes—and have little time to pack or prepare.) You can pack 20 items. Keep in mind the information you learned when you researched your region such as the distance to the nearest camp or safe area, the climate of the area, and the terrain of the area."

  3. Give a copy of the My Backpack handout to each student. Have students think about/list 20 items they are going to take with them on their trip.

  4. Tell students there has been a change of plans and someone is knocking on their door. They may have found out about the plan to leave. These are the same officers that have been persecuting others in their town. The students must flee; however, they cannot take 20 items with them, so they will need to unpack 10 items. Have students put an X next to the 10 items on their list that they will leave behind. Have students discuss with a partner which items they are leaving behind and why.

  5. Tell students they make it safely to the woods; however, the backpack is just too heavy to continue. They must unpack 5 items. Have students put a circle around the items they will leave behind. Have students discuss with a partner which items they are leaving behind and why.

  6. Facilitate a discussion among students about their choices and have them think about the following:

    • Did they have some type of food to eat left in their backpack?
    • Did they have water in their backpack?
    • Did they pack money to purchase needs or to pay someone to help them escape?
    • How long do they imagine they can survive with the items they have in their backpack?
  7. Ask the students to think for a few moments about this question. If someone inour refugee group is in need of a resource you packed, such as food, water, or clothing, would you share your resource? Why or Why not?

  8. Now ask students to pair with a classmate and discuss their thinking about scarce resources.

  9. Then hold a whole-class discussion about how helping others is in the interest of the common good and in their own self-interest. (The benefit is that group needs to stay healthy and together to support each other.)

  10. Wrap up the lesson by reviewing social groups and how important it is for humans to feel a sense of belonging. Review the difficulties refugees face when leaving their own social groups and establish connections in new social groups. Have students recall the Carly video and how she had to make a quick escape from her burning house.

    • Did she take anything with her?
    • How was she planning to survive?

Assess students on completion of the research guide. Assess student performance on working cooperatively with others. Assess student participation during discussions. Assess student performance on working independently and working cooperatively with others.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.
      2. Benchmark E.7 Describe the concept of competing self-interest.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.