Needs & Wants Lesson Plan

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

In this lesson plan, students will learn about the differences between wants and needs. Through group work, the students will analyze wants and needs in literature and explore the potential effects of maladaptive behavior.

Lesson Objectives

As a result of this lesson, the students will be able to:

  • state the difference between wants and needs
  • evaluate a scenario to identify wants and needs in a situation


  • 1 hour

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Maladaptive


  • Copies of the lesson Wants vs. Needs in Psychology, one per student
  • Copies of the lesson worksheet, one per student
  • Index cards for Maladaptive Behavior activity (see instructions)
  • A selection of short stories and/or children's books


  • To start the class, ask students to write a list with two columns:
    • what they want
    • what they need
  • Put these lists aside for later.
  • Pass out the lesson: Wants vs. Needs in Psychology.
  • As a class read the text lesson, pausing after reading the 'Wants' section.
  • Now have the class look at their list of needs and wants, having them reevaluate their list:
    • Is there anything that should be changed from one column to the other?

Identifying Needs and Wants in Stories

  • Provide a selection of short stories and/or children's books. With a partner or individually, have students select a book or story.
  • After reading the story, have students compile a list including:
  1. Needs the characters experienced.
  2. Wants the characters experienced.
  3. Any example of a character acting as if a want was actually a need.

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