Why Do We Need the Earth?

Becky Gilfillan

Lesson Goals

Students will be able to identify several of the natural resources available on Earth, and give examples of how we use these resources to provide for our basic needs.

This is an introductory set of 4 lessons on the natural resources in which students study original paintings to identify ways that humans all over the world use natural resources to supply their basic needs.


*A class set of art prints of original paintings. Some may be duplicates if needed. I plan to borrow these from our Art Specialist if possible.
*Charts of paper or flipchart pages that list and explain the Elements & Principles of Art, vocabulary cards or poster of vocabulary words for this lesson.
* Drawing paper, colored pencils and crayons for each student
*Social Studies composition notebook, writing notebook, or loose leaf notebook paper and pencil for each student.


Part 1: Thinking about a painting, drawing with shapes
• Display an art print which has several easily identified Art Elements in it. Ask students to just observe it for a few minutes.
• Display and review the poster or flipchart page of the Elements & Principles of Art. Ask if they remember their Art Teacher teaching about any of these elements. Ask if they see any examples of the elements in the picture. What are some examples? Discuss all elements that are in the picture.
• Display another art print that shows a scene in which people are using water, wood, soil or plants, sun or wind power to provide for their basic needs.
• Ask students to describe what is happening in the picture. What do they see in the picture? Where do they think it is happening? What Art Elements do they see in this picture? Encourage them to give evidence in their answer. Talk to an elbow buddy about what they see.
• Call on volunteers to share out an Art Element that they discovered in the painting.
• Ask students if they have learned in art class about using shapes to help draw an object. Review how to look at a picture and “see” the shapes in each object, and then draw those shapes as a basic sketch of the picture. Choose a small section of the painting, and allow students to practice by sketching that portion. Allow a few minutes of quiet drawing. Allow students to share their drawing with partners if they wish. (This portion of the lesson could be done separately with an object in any picture or poster and practiced on recycled paper during early arrival time or snack).

Part 2: Gallery Walk and Drawing
• Ask student to tell what they remember about needs and wants. What are some examples of things that we actually need? Why do we need them? Where do we get these things? Do people in other countries need these same things? Why?
• Explain that humans use natural resources from our Earth to help to provide the things we need to survive. Explain that water, air, shelter, food, and clothing are our basic needs.
• Explain that today you have a selection of art prints to share with them. Each print tells a story. Explain that they will have a given amount of time to circulate around the room to look over each of the prints. Ask them to think as they walk about which painting they like the best.
• Now ask students to stop and sit in front of the painting they like the best. Ask them to look at the painting again for a few minutes.
• Explain that they will now have a chance to draw this painting on their own. Distribute art supplies and relocate the art prints as needed around the room to allow each student a place to work near their choice of print.
• Allow several minutes of quiet drawing time.

Part 3: Complete drawings and label art elements
• Use this extra session as an extra time for completing their drawing.
• Ask students to quietly label any Art Elements that they find in their drawing.

Part 4: Writing and talking about the Print
• Ask student to sit near the Art Print and just look at it for a few minutes.
• Explain that they will now write a 1000 word sentence about what they see in the painting.
• Allow time for quiet writing.
• Ask students to share some of their thoughts from their paper with their partner.
• Gather together and have students share out what is happening in the paintings.
• What is alike in all of the paintings? Can you name the natural resource that the people are using to supply their basic needs? How are they using the resource to give them what they need?
• Discuss the global perspective that all people have the same basic needs, and use the natural resources in their local environment to supply those needs.
• Ask students to return to their seats, and take out their social Studies notebook or distribute loose leaf paper. Explain that they will now write at least 3 examples of ways that people use natural resources to supply their basic needs.

Differentiation Approaches

Students who need extra support may benefit from being asked to only draw a section of their choice in the painting. They may also benefit from having small paper shapes on the table in front of them, to use as they sketch.


The student labels of their drawing in Part 3 can be used as an assessment. The writing samples in Part 4 can be used as assessments.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

Students who need extension may like to draw what would happen next, on the back of their drawing, using the same style of drawing and color patterns. Students may also write a poem about their drawing, or write about how they use natural resources in their life to supply their basic needs.

Additional Details

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