Lesson 1 Assessing Human Needs for Survival


Assessing Human Needs for Survival

Learning Outcome

Students assess survival needs and interactions between organisms and the environment.

Steps to the Lesson

  1. Brainstorm and compare survival skills and knowledge from both a historical and modern perspective.
  2. Watch a video of a Sinixt creation survival story.
  3. Create a written piece identifying and ranking survival skills needed in the aftermath of a disaster.
  4. Reflect on the process.



Students will be able to identify the important skills and knowledge that human beings require to survive.


Students will list skills and knowledge that are important to preserve as a group of people struggling to survive.

Activate Prior Knowledge:

Teachers give students an opportunity to discuss the kinds of skills and knowledge that would be important today if a group was faced with challenges to survive (ie. medical knowledge, hunting skills etc.).

In groups of four (two A/B partners groups), students generate what they feel are important survival skills and knowledge and report out to the class. One A/B partner group will brainstorm historical survival skills/knowledge (ie. before first contact with Europeans) and the second A/B partner group will brainstorm survival skills/knowledge needed in the 21st century. Students track their thinking on a Survival Skills/Knowledge T-Chart. Teachers create a class T-chart on the board and compare student responses on survival skills/knowledge from both the historical and modern perspectives. Students then complete the other column of their T-Chart.

Note: This is a comparison and analysis practice that is not about right/wrong answers, but more focused on the discussion an important element to the lesson.

Predict and Question: Have students review the survival skills/knowledge ideas generated in the previous exercise. What skills/knowledge are the same when comparing the historical and modern contexts? What are different? What questions do the students have about survival? What are the students wondering about?



Inform students they will be watching a video on a Sinixt land survival story which was based on a severe drought. Ideas about skill sets and knowledge are only one aspect of this story.

Reminder: It is important to stop throughout the video and give students (A/B partners) the opportunity to discuss ideas they may have about how people adapt to change and what skills might change in the process of adapting. Students track the survival skills/knowledge used by the Sinixt people on the back of their Survival Skills/Knowledge T-Chart.

Reviewing the Sinixt creation story, in A/B partners, students discuss what historical survival skills/knowledge may exist in modern society. How have some of these skills adapted and changed over time?


Students consider the following scenario:

They are survivors of a plane crash, in a very remote, mountainous region on the west coast of British Columbia. The area is covered in a thick layer of trees and brush; making the crash site difficult to locate. It will be at least 4-5 days before rescue teams can reach the crash site as foul weather is making it difficult to conduct search and rescue by air. A number of passengers have survived but all of their belongings were burned in the plane wreckage.

Students now create a written piece describing what essential skills/knowledge they, and other crash survivors, will need to survive the in the wilderness before search and rescue teams arrive. They will need to identify and rank the various skills needed; including reasons which justify their choices.

The length of this writing piece can be determined the teacher (ie. essay, paragraph) but the intention is for students to demonstrate their understanding and individual thought.


On the back of their Survival T-Chart, students reflect on how their thinking has changed regarding survival skills and knowledge. What skills would they consider to be the more important?

Extend learning or next lesson

Students could conduct internet searches to discover where similar survival situations have taken place since 2000 (ie. Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina) and what skills/knowledge were crucial during those times of crisis.