Needs of Living Things

Contributor: Felicia Sabur. Lesson ID: 11780

Have you ever been really hungry, thirsty, cold or out of breath? These sensations show you need certain things to stay alive. Some good reading and a diorama and essay show you what you need to live!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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You're hiking through the woods with friends, and somehow you get separated from the group. You're lost, and all you have in your backpack is a granola bar, a bottle of water, and a rain poncho.

  • How long can you survive without food?
  • How long can you go without water?

On average, a human would be able to survive without food for about 20 to 40 days on water only.

However, a human can only survive for three to seven days without water.

Living organisms have five basic needs for survival. Food and water are only two of the things that organisms need to survive. Take a moment to make a list of five things you need to stay alive.

Take out your Living Things Notebook. If you need another copy, print the Living Things Notebook  from Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar and fill in the blanks as you read. If you have not yet completed the previous Related Lessons in our Living Things series, you will find them there as well.

All organisms have five basic needs to survive:

  1. water

Water is needed for the organism to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability to maintain stable internal conditions. Water is needed at the cellular level, for digestion, and for the flow of nutrients throughout the organism.

  1. food

Food provides the energy that an organism needs to maintain homeostasis, grow, reproduce, and respond to its surroundings. For animals, food may come in the form of insects, plants, and other animals.

Plants get their food from the sun through photosynthesis and nutrients in the soil. Photosynthesis is the process that plants use to convert sunlight into food.

  1. shelter
  2. ideal temperature

All organisms have an ideal temperature range. The shelter or habitat that an organism lives in must be able to provide the right temperature and air quality.

  1. air (oxygen for animals and carbon dioxide for plants)

All organisms need air. Animals breath in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air.

  • How do plants and animals help each other survive?

Organisms cannot survive alone in this world. All organisms are interdependent with each other for their survival needs.

An ecosystem is all the living organisms interacting with each other — and the non-living things — in a given area.

All the living organisms and once-living organisms in an ecosystem are the biotic members. All the non-living things, like buildings, rocks, and water in an ecosystem are the abiotic members.

The plants and animals in the picture below are all part of an ecosystem. The picture below is example of an ecosystem and how organisms depend on each other:


  • How are all the needs of the turtles in the picture above being meet by their environment?
  • How are the turtles and plants interdependent with each other?
  • How are they part of an ecosystem?
  • Can you list the biotic and abiotic members of this ecosystem?

In the Got It? section, you will become a zoo keeper and design a new habitat for one of the animals at your zoo. Your habitat will be a diorama, a type of 3D model, so be as creative as you like!

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