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Meeting Needs In An Urban Environment   Tags: urban studies  

This collection of lessons is meant to introduce students to a variety of ideas related to basic human needs and how they can be addressed in urban environments. This unit is meant to fit well with Lower School Social Studies.
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Need or Want? Where do things come from?

1. description: Using a categorizing activity and images in a powerpoint, the instructor and students will explore certain concepts related to needs. These concepts include needs vs wants, different examples of how people meet needs in different cultures (e.g. there are different types of cuisine, but everyone eats), where the things we need come from, and what it means for some people to have more than other people.

   a. The instructor can begin lesson by prompting students to name some things they “need” and some things they “want”.

   b. On a large pad of paper, blackboard, or whiteboard the instructor can draw a vertical line to indicate two sections-needs and wants. The instructor can then ask students to sort 2D props representing various items that could be considered needs or wants into those two categories. The instructor can put the item in the appropriate section after the students discuss each one.

    1. items could include pictures of, or representing, food, a house, a doctor, friends, family, music, and love (note: students may need help understanding the idea that certain images are symbolic-e.g. A heart represents “love” or a hamburger represents “food”)(see MeetingNeeds_fig 1 in materials)

    2. Throughout the activity the instructor should prompt the students to explain why they would categorize a certain item as either a need or a want.

   c. The instructor and students can then look through a powerpoint together (see materials ) and use the images as jumping off points for a discussion of different examples of how people meet needs in different cultures (e.g. different people enjoy different types of cuisine and get food from different places, but everyone eats), where things we need come from, what it means for some people to have more than other people.


A Community to Meet All Needs

1. description: Students and instructor can work together to make a large, multimedia map, showing an ideal community that would meet all needs.

   a. The instructor may start this lesson by explaining to the students that they will work together to design a community where everyone can meet all of their needs. The instructor can then ask the students to brainstorm the things that this community would have. As the students brainstorm, the instructor can write a list on the board.

   b. After the list has been completed, students will volunteer to make images to represent the different things and places that the community would need.

   c. Students will then have time to create their items using supplies such as colored paper, markers, and glue.

   d. Students will then work together to decide where to place their items on a large map with a basic grid structure. Students may also place their houses from lesson B on the map.

   e. For homework, students may write a journal entry exploring the idea that some communities don't have as many of the needs-meeting resources as would be ideal. A possible prompt could be, “Not all communities have places where people can get all the things they need. Some communities might not have hospitals or clothing stores. Imagine if you lived in a community without a grocery store. How do you think you could get food?”


Things the Body Needs and Things the Mind Needs, How Do We Help Each Other Get What We Need?

1. description: Using a categorizing activity and a group game, the instructor and students will explore the idea of physical needs vs emotional needs as well as the idea of working together with a group to meet individual and group needs.

   a. The instructor can begin the lesson by asking students what they think describes a need-what does it mean to need something? The instructor can also present the idea that there are things the body needs in order to be healthy and avoid death (food, water, etc) but that there are also things the mind needs to be happy and healthy. The instructor can ask students to brainstorm some things that the mind might need.

   b. The instructor will then draw a large Tri-Venn Diagram on a pad of paper, blackboard, or whiteboard and ask students to sort 2D props representing various items that could be considered needs of the body, needs of the mind, or wants into the three categories.

   c. The instructor will then lead the students in a game. In this game, students will break into groups of 4 or 5 (these numbers can be flexible) and each student will be given an envelope with paper pieces of a house (see MeetingNeeds_figure 2 in materials). In each group, there must be the right number of pieces for each individual to complete a house, but each individual should not have all the right pieces. Students should be prompted to complete the activity without talking or writing to communicate. They also must not signal to others what they need but rather must pay attention to what others need and work to make sure everyone in the group completes his or her house. When a group is finished they can glue their houses together and decorate them with pens/pencils/markers/crayons while they wait for other groups to finish. Students should keep these houses for later lessons.

   d. After all the students have completed their houses the instructor can lead students in a follow-up discussion. Some possible questions include:

      i. How did you communicate without talking or writing?

      ii. How did you work together? How did you help each other?

      iii. Can you think of another time when someone has needed something and they didn't have the thing they needed? What can people do about that?

      iv. Were there things each group member needed? Was there something the group as a whole needed?

   e. Students may be assigned to write in a journal for homework about what they learned about needs and wants.


. .

Thank you so much to Daniel Rouse and Ann Perrone, who contributed significantly to the creation of this lesson plan!


Mapping Needs in an Urban Environment

1. description: The instructor will direct students to complete a worksheet and explore an online map in order to help them develop the idea that- in urban environments- we meet our needs by going to certain places within communities that are spatially organized in certain ways and which may have limited resources.

   a. The instructor can start the class by asking the students to name some things people need.

   b. Students can then be asked to complete a matching and navigation worksheet (see materials), the first half of which will involve a matching exercise between needs and where one can get the thing they need, the second half of which requires further instruction.

   c. The second half of the worksheet will ask students to navigate a map on google earth (using aerial and street view). This map will include icons indicating several different types of places where one can get something they need (e.g.”shopping” and “emergency”) with several different examples of each type of place (which will be labeled, e.g. “shopping 1” and “emergency 2”).

      i. Note: the instructor will have to create this map in google earth. For an example, see “Where to Get What You Need in Our Community”- created by Ann Perrone (in materials).

   d. Students will be asked to explore the map and write down at least three items, including what the item is labeled as (e.g. “shopping 1”), what the item actually is (e.g. PathMark), and what someone could find there that is a need. It may help students to see the list of item labels and what each item is so that they can use deductive reasoning to figure out what items are if they aren't clear just by exploring the map. Students may also use the information from the matching exercise in the first part of the worksheet to think about things they could find at the places labeled on the map.

   e. For homework students may complete a mapping worksheet (see materials).


Other Possible Themes

1. homelessness

   a. Students could do a variety of activities to explore themes of homelessness including reading books on homelessness, visiting homeless shelters, and discussing ideas such as “Why might someone not have a home?”, “What would it be like to be homeless?”, “What can be done about the problem of homelessness?”

   b. possible resources:

      i. Messinger, Alex.Unsheltered Lives: An Interdisciplinary Resources and Activity Guide for Teaching about Homelessness in Grades K-12. ed. Burlington, VT: Committee on Temporary Shelter, 2010. Print.


         >especially pg17-Just Imagine , pg20-Illustrating Homeless Lives, pg22-Types of Homes, pg37-Class Survey, pg 56-Action Activities

      ii. DiSalvo, DyAnne. Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1991. Print.

      iii. McGovern, Ann, and Marni Backer. The Lady in the Box. New York: Turtle Books : 1997. Print.

2. historical development of communities

   a. Students could read books and have discussions about how communites organized with places that meet are needs came about.

   b. possible resources:

      i. Millard, Anne, and Steve Noon. A Street Through Time. New York: DK Pub., 1998. Print.



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