Grades K-2: Lesson 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy Dont USE ME





The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand the difference between a want and a need and help them gain an awareness of the levels in Maslow’s Hierarchy and connect them to the students’ lives.


Google Slides – English

Google Slides – Spanish


  • I know what my body needs.
  • I know what my mind needs.
  • I know what makes me happy.
  • I feel like I belong with my family and friends.
  • I like who I am.
  • What is a goal I can set?

Lesson Content

Our well-being is how happy and healthy we are. This includes our body, mind, and heart. There is a difference between what we want and what we need. When our needs are met, we are happier and healthier.

Lesson Plan

Activity 1: (15 minutes) Want vs. Needs

Ask students what they need to have in life to survive. Listen for things like water, food, sleep, and air to breathe. Prompt students if needed. When an idea is suggested that is a want instead of a need, discuss the difference between a want and a need.

  • need is something we have to have to survive.
  • want is something we like but doesn’t hurt us when we don’t have it.

Display the Want vs. Needs T-chart. Hang the T-chart for students to see. Show students the picture cards and ask if it’s a want or a need. Tape the picture cards onto the displayed T-chart to refer to.

Students could also complete this activity in small groups or as partners.

Activity 2: (15 minutes) Pyramid of Happiness

Show students Maslow’s Hierarchy or the Pyramid of Happiness anchor chart. Explain how each step is like a level of happiness and the higher up we go, the happier we can be.

Display the slideshow and move through each level of the Pyramid of Happiness. Stop at each level and teach students an action that matches the level indicators.

  • Basic Needs: rub tummy and pretend to drink (food and water)
  • Safety: put arms up above head with fingers touching to make a roof shape (shelter)
  • Love: wrap arms around oneself in a hug (connection)
  • Esteem: strike a superhero pose (believing in one’s self)
  • Self-Actualization: star jump with arms and legs spread out (being one’s best, superstar self)

Practice matching the movement to each level by calling out the names of the levels and allowing students to make the movement.

Activity 3: (10 minutes) Pyramid of Happiness

Give students an empty Pyramid of Happiness worksheet and have them draw pictures or write words inside the spaces to represent what they have in their life for each level. They might include their favorite foods, house, family members, things they like to do, and things they are good at.

Activity 4: (25 minutes) Read-Aloud

Read the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Have a class discussion.

  • What parts of the story showed Chrysanthemum having her needs met? (basic- sleeping, dinner to eat, exercise at recess; safety- safe home and classroom, teacher who protected her; love- parents who loved her, teacher who connected with her; esteem- when Chrysanthemum loved her name and felt proud)
  • What happened when Chrysanthemum didn’t feel like she belonged with her friends?

Allow students to brainstorm and share with partners what they could have done to help her feel like she belonged in her class.

Discussion/Journal Prompts

  • How do you feel when you are hungry?
  • How do you feel after eating a healthy meal?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do you want to be someday?


  • Eat breakfast everyday.
  • Look outside or ask a family member how to dress for the weather.
  • Drink lot of water every day.
  • Be a friend.
  • Say kind words.
  • Invite others to play with you.
  • Share toys.
  • Say “Sorry.”
  • Give your family member a hug, or tell them you love them.
  • Write a note to friends or family members.
  • Try new things.
  • Practice new activities.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Think about things you want to do someday.

Curriculum Connections

English Language Arts

3.RL.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a
text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

3.RL.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or
feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence
of events.

3.RL.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or
those of the characters.

3.SL.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-
one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics
and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

3.SL.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read
aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats,
including visually, quantitatively, and orally.