Choosing a Shelter

Everybody needs Shelter

Object Type: Video Clip
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Everybody needs Shelter

Understand that shelter is one of our four basic needs, and witness dozens of human shelters—igloos to mansions—from equator to poles and sea to mountaintop. Learn how shelters protect families from the elements and how shelters are often built with materials that are available locally.

The things people need to stay alive are basic needs. Shelter is a basic need to keep us safe from bad weather and animals and people have many types of shelters.

  1. Students will know the three basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. People require the basic needs in order to stay alive. There are other things that are nice to have because they make life more comfortable, but they are wants and not needs.
  2. Students will realize that people and animals need shelter to stay alive. Shelter protects people and animals from danger (predators, the weather, etc.). Also, people and animals use shelter to be comfortable.
  3. Students will know some of the different kinds of animal shelters. A nest is a form of shelter that birds use as a place to feed their babies and to keep warm. A cave is shelter in which a bear may use to hibernate. A ferret lives in a borough, which is warm and will protect the ferret from any predators.
  4. Students will understand that the kind of shelter in which a person lives depends on three factors: climate, access to natural resources, and money.
    1. Climate - In cold climates thick materials, like bricks, logs, and cement, are used to build homes. Thick materials help insulate the home.
    2. Access to natural resources - In areas where people have access trees, homes are built mainly out of wood. In areas where people have access to mud and clay, homes may be built with adobe. Certain Indian tribes made structures called tepees, which mainly consisted of animal hides since that was the most available material.
    3. Money - Money can determine the kind of shelter built. Those who have a lot of money can build fancier shelters made with expensive materials. Those with little money cannot build very expensive shelters.
  5. Students will realize that people can either live in single-family homes or in multiple family shelters like apartments.
  6. Students will understand that because there are many buildings and people present in a city, they can become cramped. Because of space, many people who live in cities must live in shelters that are built very close together or apartments. In the suburbs, however, there is usually more room to build; therefore, in the suburbs one will find more single-family homes, which can be spaced farther apart than in the city.
  7. Students will know that two types of shelters, permanent shelters and temporary shelters, exist. People use permanent shelters, like houses and apartments, for long periods of time. Temporary shelters like tents and bus stops are only used for a short time.
  8. Students will realize that people choose to construct buildings a certain way because of tradition. When people move from one region to another, they carry their traditions to their new home.
  9. Students will understand that the first shelters for humans were probably caves. When the pilgrims and pioneers came to America they built their shelter out of materials that were easily accessible, like grasses and logs; these shelters were very primitive and had only one or two rooms, were kept warm by a fireplace, and were lit using candles. As time moved on, however, shelters for humans evolved. Today, building materials come from all over the world, steel and concrete allow people to build bigger and stronger shelters, and homes have many extra features that make living more comfortable.

  1. Before viewing the video

    1. Have each student tell where he or she lives (house, duplex, apartment, mobile home) and draw a picture of the home.
  2. After viewing the video

    1. Bulletin Board of Where We Live: Each student cuts out the picture drawn of his/her house and places it on a bulletin board of a street, sidewalks, and lawns. Each student writes the correct number and street name on the house. This is one way to identify your shelter. Compare the different kinds of shelters people inhabit.
    2. Materials for Shelters: Review the video. Students raise their hands each time a different material for shelters is shown. The teacher lists these materials. Send a note home to parents requesting that they help the students find, label, and bring to school one kind of building material for a home or shelter. Make a display table showing the different materials, which might include wood, brick, cement, grass, etc. Have the students search through magazines, cutting out pictures of shelters. Mount the pictures on a large sheet of paper and compare the ways in which they are the same and different.
    3. Making Dioramas of Shelters: Review the video, looking for shelters that are different than most homes. Consult the librarian for books showing shelters around the world. With the help of the class, generate a list of different kinds of shelters that could be used for the diorama (adobe, mud, clay, grass, castles, houseboats, log cabins, Japanese houses, etc.). Send the list home with the students along with a note requesting that the parents assist the children in creating a diorama.
    4. Animals' Shelters: Have each student select a favorite animal. Make a booklet showing the animal and its home by folding a sheet of paper in half, labeling the cover, and drawing the animal on one page and its habitat on the other.


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