Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students recognise that people have the same basic needs as other animals and that needs and wants may be different.


Briefly discuss the growth of the plants and mealworms. Explain that humans are a type of animal and, like mealworms we also need things to live. Open the class science journal to the ‘Needs of living things’ page (from lesson 1). Ask students the following questions:

  • Do we need the things on this list?
  • Can we survive without any of them?
  • What do we do in our day to meet these needs? (eg food – have breakfast, lunch and dinner, go shopping; air – to breathe; water – to drink; shelter – go into our homes at night, rest in our beds, keep warm/safe during very cold or dangerous weather.)

Explain that sometimes we think we need something, but actually it is a want.

Tell students that in this lesson they will learn about what people need and the difference between needs and wants.


  1. Show the pictures of Needs of people (Word, 573 KB) on the interactive whiteboard or display a hard copy. Explain that the class is going to sort the pictures according to
  2. Invite discussion about the pictures as the students are moved into a needs or wants group. Discuss why the lolly picture would go in the ‘wants’ group. (We cannot survive on these types of foods.) Compare this with the picture of healthy foods. Similarly, discuss toys, television and fast food.
  3. Ask all students to form a large circle. Choose two students to walk around with the prepared dishes containing pre-cut pictures from the worksheet Needs and wants (PDF, 1.6 MB). Tell other students to quickly pick out any picture. Students look at their picture and decide what ‘need’ or ‘want’ it shows.
  4. In the middle of the students’ circle, place five hoops (or circles of paper) and place/read the labels (food, water, air, shelter, wants). Ask 5–6 students at a time to place their picture in the matching hoop and then return to their place.
  5. Ask students if they can see any pictures that they think are out of place, identifying any yourself as you all look. Reinforce the reasons for the pictures placed in the ‘wants’ hoop.
  6. Ask one student to volunteer to be a person the class is ‘to look after’. This student stands. Select four students one at a time to each choose a picture from any of the hoops to give to the standing student so that all his/her needs are met. Before each student chooses, ask him/her to look at what has already been given to emphasise that we need all our basic needs to be met. Therefore, a student must choose a different picture from those already chosen; there must be one picture from each of the four ‘need’ types given to the student. Positively reinforce or discuss if students do not choose or choose a picture from the ‘wants’ hoop.
  7. Select two new students to stand and repeat the activity choosing two students at a time to look at what has already been given and to choose a different need. Check all needs are met for both students.
  8. Collect pictures and hoops and ask students to return to their desks. 


Hand out a shopping catalogue page to each individual/pair of students and ask them to discuss what they would like out of the catalogue.

Give each pair 2 coloured pencils – one for ‘wants’ and one for ‘needs’. Instruct them to draw circles around the ‘wants’ with one colour and the ‘needs’ with the other.

Lesson Resources


Student activities


Needs and wants (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Needs of people (Word, 840 KB)

Useful links

L1034 Island life: smart choices. NDLRN Learning object

R6741 ‘Lift off’ – Indigenous children collect bush tucker. NDLRN Short film 

R11587 Me, myself and I. NDLRN Unit of work