Outline of unit

All living things have basic needs for their survival. Students may have prior knowledge of caring for a younger sibling, an animal or plants. They will know what it is like to feel hungry, thirsty and tired. They may not identify air as a basic need until guided to do so.

This unit aims to bring student prior knowledge to a conscious level, making explicit all the basic needs of living things. Through the firsthand experience of a guest presenter, students recognise how people look after a pet to meet its basic needs. Focus questions help identify what senses the animal uses to help meet those needs. Students use the experience to create a model of a pet and identify how they would meet its needs.

Through caring for a class pet/s as well as growing seeds, students observe firsthand how to meet the needs of animals and plants and consider the consequences of their needs not being met. The need for air is addressed by considering situations where air is not available. Students analyse their own needs and are guided to recognise that sometimes wants are confused with needs. They are also guided to see that all basic needs must be met, not just some of them. Finally, students extrapolate what they have learned to an animal that lives in the wild. They consider how bilbies have to provide for their own needs and also learn about the senses that help them to do so.

A class science journal is used as a tool for recording the students’ learning journey and provides for meaningful literacy modelling. It is used to review and organise observations and ideas, and can include images and student contributions. Real life, hands-on experiences and sharing observations with others are a key part of creating meaningful, shared understandings. Individually students create a model, draw observations and identify wants and needs in a game and a grocery catalogue. The unit also provides for students to engage with a learning object (ICT as a cross-curriculum priority).

Whilst employing the students’ own senses as a tool for scientific observation, this unit could be extended through additional lessons analysing the way animals (including humans) use their senses to help them survive. The lessons and background information provide useful web links for extension possibilities.

Cross-curriculum priority


Early lessons about the interdependence of animals, plants and people.


Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Science Understanding

Biological sciences

Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Science as a Human Endeavour

Nature and development of science

Science involves exploring and observing the world using the senses  (ACSHE013)

Science Inquiry Skills

Questioning and predicting

Respond to questions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS014)

Planning and conducting

Explore amd make observations by using the senses (ACSIS011)

Processing and analysing data and information

Engage in discussions about observations and use methods
such as drawing to represent ideas (ACSIS233)


Share observations and ideas (ACSIS012)

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Achievement standard

This lesson sequence provides opportunities to gather information about students’ understanding related to the sections in bold in the achievement statement below:

By the end of the Foundation year, students describe the properties and behaviour of familiar objects. They suggest how the environment affects them and other living things.

Students share observations of familiar objects and events

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Ducklings, © N Sandry; Boy with puppy, © N Sandry, Flower with wasp, © N Sandry

Additional information for teachers


Background information (PDF, 385 KB)

Safety advice (PDF, 324 KB)

Materials and equipment (PDF, 332 KB)