Needs And Wants Lesson Plan: HIERARCHY OF NEEDS by Maslow for Years 3/4/5/6


Summary of Lesson Plan:

In this lesson plan, children are introduced to Maslow’s theory of Human Needs as a way of sorting through what things are more important to us than others. Maslow’s theory can be referred to  however due to the nature of it, it may be best to only incorporate the ideas that are appropriate for the age of children you are teaching. These can be simplified with pictures or using prepared words as in the attached document. You may even find that you need to adapt the categories of the pyramid appropriate with the idea that childrens’ basic needs essential to living are down the bottom and the following levels of the pyramid are like steps to greater happiness and fulfilment in their lives. I found that just the thinking about and talking about of these concepts was satisfactory for younger children to address the learning focus from the Australian Curriculum, or AusVELS.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 5 – Economics and Business Content Descriptions:

Economics and Business Knowledge and Understanding:

Years 3 and 4 – Humanities Learning Focus

Students learn to distinguish between basic needs and wants (for example, food, clothing, shelter, and affection), saving and spending, buyers (consumers) and sellers (producers), and goods and services. They develop an understanding of the role of money and identify ways to save; for example, using a savings account, and begin to understand the importance of budgeting. They examine and compare different types of work and specific jobs.

Background Information:

As part of our Inquiry topic into Needs and Wants, students have been exploring how different people from various places around the world, or different animals have different needs and wants. They also have needs and wants that are similar (air, water). We will continue to explore the role of industries and businesses in catering for our needs and wants with their products and services. This will lead into exploring jobs and careers, money and finances.

AIM: for children to gain an understanding that there is a hierarchy, or order, of needs/wants in our lives. These are usually similar for people to gain greater fulfilment in their lives. If their basic needs are not met, can they achieve a higher stage in the pyramid? What things are essential for basic needs in life to be met? What do people want to do when their basic needs are met?

Lesson Plan/Activity Sequence:


  • Discuss/ review the previous lesson about how we have different needs and wants, depending on who we are, where we live and what we are (eg comparing animals). This was completed as a Venn diagram, so we could compare/contrast.
  • Ask, Can we order what things are more important in our lives? How would we do this? How do we decide which is more important than another? What are humans’ basic needs? And what does this mean?
  • At this stage, you could introduce who Maslow is and what his theory is. Otherwise you could just talk about the levels of needs/wants as per the labels in the attached document if you choose to use them.


  • Draw a pyramid on the whiteboard, a poster, or even draw one in chalk on the ground.
  • Use the coloured labels from the attached document to identify the different levels. Discuss each, alternatively the children could predict where they would go on the pyramid, basic need on the bottom, or further up on the level of needs/wants. (This may be confusing if they see the pyramid with the most important thing at the top, so it’s important to discuss how the top is actually when you have all the things in your life to make you feel complete, as per Maslow’s theory. Otherwise, you could invert the pyramid).
  • Children participate in placing the word cards into the correct category of the pyramid, this could be done randomly, or in order. The picture cards may also be used to help connect the concepts in words for each category.
  • Students could then draw their own pyramid of needs/wants in the books. They could add some everyday items, such as Ipods, chocolate, fruit, blankets, basketball, friends, new clothes etc,  to help understand where each item should go in the pyramid.


  • Discuss different children’s pyramids and their similarities and differences.


  • Anecdotal Notes
  • Collect students pyramids with explanations.





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