K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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a young boy with his calf

(Provided by the Green 'N' Growing Collection (The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina), Special Collections, North Carolina State University Libraries. More about the photograph)

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First grade students will examine photographs of 4-H club members with animals from North Carolina. These images come from the Green ‘N’ Growing in the Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University. They will make observations from the visual material to build an understanding of the needs of animals. They will begin to learn that these needs have remained the same in different times.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • observe animals from a variety of photographs to see similarity in needs
  • examine primary sources
  • begin to develop an understanding of past time

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

This lesson should take twenty minutes. An optional extension writing activity can take an additional twenty minutes.


Technology resources

  • overhead
  • printer for copying visuals


The teacher needs to make copies of the following photographs from the Green ‘N’ Growing collection in the Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University Library.

The copies can be made on regular paper in at least a 4 × 6 size. However, it will make more of an impact if the students can see and use the visuals on photo paper.

Titles of the images:

If you’d like to access the digital originals and explore others in the collection on your own, these instructions are helpful.

  1. Go to the Green ‘N’ Growing collection.
  2. Click on the Search Collection section on the bottom of the page.
  3. Try highlighting a picture title from above and copy and paste it into the line on the search page in the Search Image box.
  4. You can find them by Title in the drop down box. When you click on a title, you will be directed to another page.
  5. Double click on the image in the large black window. This will open yet another window.
  6. In the bottom right corner are tools to work with the image.



  1. Ask the students if they have any pets. Ask them what their pets need. Accept the answers given by the students. Do not lead them to discover other answers at this point.
  2. Ask if any of the students have ever heard of the 4-H Club. If some have, ask them to tell their classmates a little about the program. If no student has heard of the group then explain, “The 4-H Club is a club like Tiger Cub Scouts or Daisy Girl Scouts. The 4-H Clubs are mostly for boys and girls that live on farms or in farm towns. One of the things that each boy and girl does is a project. Some of the children raise animals.”
  3. Explain that they will be looking at some photographs from North Carolina to see some 4-H club members from times before taking care of animals.


  1. Put the overhead of the 4-H club member standing next to two calves who are eating grass. Ask the students what they see on the overhead. (Students should say the boy, 2 cows (calves), grass, and a small building in the background. They may also notice a wire fence.)
  2. Ask them what the boy is doing. (They may say that he is taking care of the calves.)
  3. Ask them what the calves need. (They may say to be loved. Others may notice that the calves are eating grass and say they need grass or food.)
  4. Give each student one of the other photographs. Mix them up so that students beside each other do not have the same photograph.
  5. Ask the students to look carefully at their photographs. During this exercise the teacher will be helping students to build an understanding of what animals need. Ask some students to share the answers to the following:
    • What animal(s) is in your photograph?
    • What do you see in the photograph that shows what the animal(s) might need?
  6. Write down student answers on a white board.
  7. Ask the students to exchange photographs with a student beside them.
  8. Ask the same questions in question 5.
  9. You may have the students exchange photos one more time if there is time.
  10. From the photographs students should be able to see animals, types of food, shelter in some of them, and space. The teacher may lead them to think about the necessity of air and water with leading questions like What do the animals breathe? and What do the animals drink?
  11. Put the overhead back up. Explain to the students that the North Carolina boy in this photograph was most likely born before their grandmother or grandfather. Tell them that all the photographs are of boys and girls from times before now. You may continue to explain that some of the boys and girls they saw were born about the same time as their mom and dad or some were born about the same time as their great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers.
  12. Ask the students that now that they know that the photographs are from the past (or the time before now) does it change what they think about what animals need. Lead them to understand that animals in the past need the same things as animals today.


Assessment will be from teacher observation of student discussion and understanding. Students should be able to articulate the needs of animals: water, air, food, space, and shelter. Students should recognize that the photographs are from a time different from today.

Supplemental information

Extension activity

This writing activity should be completed after the students have examined and discussed the photographs.

  1. Have the students write a story together about what animals need. Students volunteer the sentences as the teacher writes on chart paper.
  2. Read the story together.
  3. Have the students then write a story on lined paper about an animal they have or wished they had. Tell them to include how they would make sure the animal had what it needs.

Alternative assignment

Because this activity is mostly visual, it is one that could be done by children of all abilities. The writing activity could be adapted by having students draw pictures of what the animal needs.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.L.1 Understand characteristics of various environments and behaviors of humans that enable plants and animals to survive. 1.L.1.1 Recognize that plants and animals need air, water, light (plants only), space, food and shelter and that these may be found...
        • 1.L.2 Summarize the needs of living organisms for energy and growth. 1.L.2.1 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different plants (including air, water, nutrients, and light) for energy and growth. 1.L.2.2 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will conduct investigations and make observations to build an understanding of the needs of living organisms.
    • Objective 1.02: Investigate the needs of a variety of different animals:
      • Air.
      • Water.
      • Food.
      • Shelter.
      • Space.