Life of Buddha Lesson Plan

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

This lesson plan encourages students to examine how their own lives align with the teachings of the Buddha about how to live. Students will cite examples of how the Noble Eightfold Path is relevant in their own experiences and worldview.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson plan, students will be able to:

  • Identify and describe elements of Buddhism such as: the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Middle Way, karma, and enlightenment
  • Apply the Noble Eightfold Path in their own lives


1 hour

Curriculum Standards


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 11-12 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


  • The Four Noble Truths
  • The Middle Way
  • Karma
  • Enlightenment
  • The Noble Eightfold Path
    • View:: to recognize that the Four Noble Truths exist
    • Intentions: commit to becoming a better person slowly over time
    • Speech: speak the truth
    • Action: do no harm
    • Livelihood: choose a job that doesn't harm others
    • Effort: focus on self-improvement
    • Mindfulness: strive to see things clearly
    • Concentration: strive to achieve enlightenment



  • Distribute transcripts for the lesson to students.
  • Watch the video for the lesson Buddha: Life & Moral Teachings as a class to introduce the activity.
  • Pause after each section of the lesson to discuss and answer questions.
  • After the sections called 'Early Life of the Buddha' and 'Enlightenment', ask the class for a show of hands of who among them:
    • was ever a prince living in a palace?
    • has wandered the countryside with traveling monks?
    • lived under a tree without eating for weeks on end?
    • No one? They are already sort of living in the middle way by not living in these extremes.
  • After the section called 'Teachings' , ask the class for a show of hands of who among them:
    • has ever had anything bad happen to them?
    • has ever wanted something they couldn't have?
    • has ever wished for a guide through life?
  • After the video and discussion, distribute the lesson's printable worksheet to assess understanding.

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