Lesson Plan Industry Sector
Education, Child Development, and Family Services

Lesson Plan Originally Created By: Anya Gurholt

Exploring Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Part of Unit: Theories of Development

Lesson Plan Overview / Details

In this lesson, students will be introduced to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Students will identify and categorize positive and negative experiences in school and relate these to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  

Time Elements

1 class period
60 Minutes

Objectives and Goals

Students will be able to describe the levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and explain its implications for learners.

Activities in this Lesson

  • Quick Write Hooks / Set

    Ask students to recall a class in which they felt the teacher genuinely cared about the students and did a good job of creating a positive environment. Have them brainstorm and write a response to the following questions (write on overhead, chart paper, or whiteboard):

    •  What do you remember about the physical environment? (i.e. room arrangement, wall decorations, etc.)
    • What was the teacher's attitude toward the students and how was it conveyed?
    • To what extent did the students know each other and work together? What role did the teacher have in building those relationships?

    After 5-10 minutes of individual writing time, have several students volunteer to share their responses aloud.

    Then, have students recall a class in which they felt uncomfortable or threatened, or a classroom in which the teacher did not have a positive relationship with the students (NOTE: ask students to refrain from using teachers' names in this portion of the discussion). 

    Finally, ask students how these different teaching styles / learning environments affected students' and their ability / willingness to learn in that class? 

    Accept several students' responses prior to moving on to the lecture portion of the lesson. 


  • Begin by explaining to students that the previous quick-write (i.e. the hook / anticipatory set) is directly related to one psychologist's theory of development -- tell students to keep the preceding quick-write in mind as they take notes.  

    Then explain that one of the pioneers of humanistic psychology was a man by the name of Abraham Maslow. He believed that all human needs could be categorized into a "hierarchy,"--a ranking of items in order of importance.

    Ask students: which need(s) do you think is the most important to human survival and development? 

    Accept several responses before displaying Maslow's Hierarchy (attached resource) on an overhead projector, document reader, or simply writing it out on the white board.

    Once displayed, have students take notes by drawing the hierarchy and then writing the description of each level as you explain them. 

    NOTE: During the lecture, it is important to emphasize that if ones' needs on the "lower levels" (i.e. physiological/safety/security) go unfulfilled, the person might be unable to fulfill her needs at a higher level (i.e. self-esteem / self-actualization). 

    Resources and Materials

    • Maslows Hierarchy [ Download ] Maslow's Hierarchy
  • Now, ask students to think back to the quick-write at the beginning of class.

    Ask students: How does Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs relate to students' ability / willingness to learn in a particular classroom environment? 

    Accept several answers. 

    Distribute the attached Understanding Students' Hierarchy of Needs sheet. 

    As a class, start from the bottom of the worksheets and brainstorm ways that teachers, schools, and fellow students can help meet all students' needs at every level of the hierarchy (for example: for the physiological level, students might write: keeping the school / classroom at a comfortable temperature, providing adequate light to see the text, etc. For the self-actualization level, students might write: teachers acknowledge students' personal interests/ hobbies and/or help to foster interest in causes that are meaningful to students). 

    Resources and Materials

    • Maslow.Students.Hierarchy.docx [ Download ] Understanding Students' Hierarchy of Needs