The Fundamental Needs of Humans lesson sparks great interest in children because, even though many of the other elementary lessons and materials may seem unfamiliar to a child who has never been exposed to them, we can all relate to and identify our own personal and individual needs. The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart provides a helpful springboard for further research on various topics related to human well-being and development.
by Letty Rising
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One of my all-time favorite lessons is the Fundamental Needs of Humans. While I can’t be certain if it’s my enthusiasm about the lesson that has generated interest in my former students, it has always proven to be a crowd-pleaser among even my most reluctant learners.
It’s one of the lessons I enjoy introducing to new students as soon as possible. Whether it be a new 6-year-old entering the classroom or a new 11-year-old who has transferred from another school, this lesson holds universal appeal.
This lesson sparks great interest in children because, even though many of the other elementary lessons and materials may seem unfamiliar to a child who has never been exposed to them, we can all relate to and identify our own personal and individual needs. The 6-year-old child often enters the elementary environment with a limited understanding of what it means to have empathy for others. When considering a new older student, it is possible that they have not had a lot of exposure to the conversations in Montessori classrooms that lead to problem-solving, identifying the needs of others, and developing empathy for their fellow humans, depending on their prior school experiences.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans First Exposure: Simple Activities for Students
After showing the chart and telling the story of The Fundamental Needs of Humans, it’s natural that the children will be excited to do some follow-up work. If you are presenting this lesson to a young group of children, the following activities have been proven to be crowd-pleasers:
- Children can draw their own chart
- Children can cut out images from magazines or print computer images and create a collage
- Children can make a booklet, with either hand-drawn illustrations or images cut from magazines or printed computer images
- Children can identify their favorite fundamental need and create a book/poster, or collage
- Children can make a list of the fundamental needs
For older children who are having their initial exposure, they can create a comic strip of the story, they can write a summary, and draw an illustration, they can write about the ways in which Physical needs are different from Spiritual needs.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans: Food Chart: Why a Specialized Chart for the Need for Food?
You will see that there are two charts for the Fundamental Needs. The second is a more specialized chart about food. This particular chart is very detailed, as it shows a variety of kinds of food that humans eat. You might wonder why it is that a chart was created for food, but not for other needs such as shelter, defense, clothing, etc. An obvious reason might be that food is the most central need that we have as humans…without food, we would die. Another possible reason is that the foods chart can serve as an exemplar, or a model, of how a child can go more deeply with each of the fundamental needs on their own. If there were a chart for every single need, then that leaves very little for the child to discover on their own! Imagine being presented with the food chart, and letting the students know that they can make their own detailed chart on any of the other fundamental needs. With the inspiration from the food chart, they will have a chart that acts as a model while at the same time generating their own original chart for another need.
Fundamental Needs of Humans Ideas for Deeper Exploration:
Taking a Closer Look at the Spiritual Needs
Looking closely at the Fundamental Needs of Humans chart, you will notice that the majority of the chart is made up of Material needs. Only a small corner is dedicated to Spiritual needs, and if I can interject my opinion here, I believe that they are underdeveloped. An idea worth pursuing with older students is to ask them to create a more elaborate list of Spiritual needs.
Marshall Rosenberg, a psychologist and the founder of the educational program known as Nonviolent Communication (NVC), developed NVC as a way to improve communication and conflict resolution skills and to help individuals and organizations better understand and meet their own needs and needs of others. Through his work, Rosenberg sought to promote empathy, understanding, and connection among people.
Connecting the Fundamental Needs of Humans lesson and chart to Marshall Rosenberg’s work will expand your students’ emotional vocabulary and give them an expanded view of Spiritual Needs. NVC has a needs inventory that you can share with your students, which contains a huge list of words that describe different needs that humans have. https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/needs-inventory
An example of these needs are appreciation, belonging, safety, support, and self-expression, just to name a few. These needs are abstract, and therefore not something that can be easily drawn or recreated in the form of a tangible product. Helping children identify as many spiritual needs as possible. They can create a long list, or possibly a chart with just the words. They can also write stories that incorporate as many spiritual needs as possible when describing the characters’ thoughts and feelings.
Using the Fundamental Needs Chart as an Outline for Research
Did you know that the Fundamental Needs Chart can be used as a handy outline for further research? The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart provides a visual framework for understanding human culture and the basic needs that all humans have. As such, it can serve as an outline for further research by providing a starting point for identifying the specific needs that a particular study or investigation aims to address.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart can be used as an outline for further research in several ways:
- By examining each of the fundamental needs listed on the chart and researching specific ways that these needs are met for different populations or individuals.
- By using the chart as an outline for the research and report writing on a particular culture or time period.
- By using the chart as a starting point for identifying gaps or areas of need in a specific community or region, and determining the most effective interventions or strategies for addressing those needs.
Using the Fundamental Needs Chart with Fictional Text
While it is easy to imagine using it as an anchor for research, many people haven’t considered the possibility of incorporating the Fundamental Needs Chart with fictional stories and novels. And yet, the possibilities are endless!
The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart can be used with fictional novels in several ways:
- By using the chart to analyze the ways that the characters in a novel are able to meet their fundamental needs, and examining how those needs are fulfilled or unfulfilled throughout the story.
- By using the chart to identify conflicts or challenges that the characters in a novel face in meeting their fundamental needs, and exploring how those challenges are addressed or resolved throughout the story.
- Using the chart to analyze the ways that the society or community described in a novel is designed to meet the fundamental needs of its members, and identify how those needs are fulfilled or unfulfilled for different characters or groups.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart can provide a useful framework for analyzing and interpreting the characters, plot, and themes of a fictional novel.
You Can Add Your Own Stories!
As a teacher, you can write your own stories about the fundamental needs of certain people, and share them with the children for further inspiration! The children can also write their own stories about the Fundamental Needs of certain people.
Possible ideas for Fundamental Needs of Humans stories include the following:
- Choose a specific culture or group of people to focus on, and research their unique traditions, beliefs, and practices related to meeting their fundamental needs.
- Develop a plot or conflict that centers around the challenges the characters in your story face in meeting their fundamental needs, and explore how they overcome those challenges.
- Use the Fundamental Needs of Humans chart as a guide to explore how the characters in your story fulfill their fundamental needs, and examine how those needs are met or unmet in the context of their culture.
- Use sensory details and descriptive language to bring the story to life, and help the reader understand the experiences and emotions of the characters as they struggle to fulfill their fundamental needs.
Extension: Fundamental Needs of Animals!
You might have yet to consider the idea that you could also use the chart to focus on the fundamental needs of animals! Children love studying animals, so this entryway into history could be a natural transition to the study of biology, where children can learn about how animals satisfy their needs.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart can provide a useful framework for understanding the fundamental needs of animals and the ways that those needs can be met or unmet in different contexts.
The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart can be used when talking about the fundamental needs of animals in several ways:
- By examining the needs of animals and comparing them to the needs of humans.
- By using the chart as a starting point for identifying commonalities and differences in the ways that humans and animals meet their fundamental needs.
- By using the chart to analyze the ways that different species of animals have adapted to meet their fundamental needs in different environments.
- By using the chart to explore the ethical and moral dimensions of meeting the fundamental needs of animals, and examining the ways that human actions can impact the ability of animals to fulfill those needs.
Fundamental Needs of Humans Final Thoughts:
The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart provides a helpful springboard for further research on various topics related to human well-being and development. By examining the fundamental needs listed on the chart, researchers can identify gaps or areas of need in specific communities or regions, and develop interventions or strategies to address those needs.
The chart can also be used to understand the root causes of social or health problems, and to analyze the ways that different systems are designed to meet the fundamental needs of individuals and communities. Overall, the chart provides a valuable framework for conducting research on the fundamental needs of humans and the ways that those needs can be met or unmet in different contexts.
Letty Rising has been involved in Montessori education for over 15 years. She holds a B.A. in Sociology, a California State Teaching Credential, and an AMI elementary diploma for ages 6-12 and an M.Ed from Loyola University in Maryland. She has held positions as a Homeschool Education Specialist, Montessori Elementary Teacher, School Director, Principal, Montessori Coordinator, and Consultant in several pubic and private Montessori school communities throughout the years. She currently supports schools around the world through professional development offerings, consulting, and mentoring.