Lesson plan


In this lesson, students will explore and discuss the term "empathy" by hearing stories from two different perspectives and identifying the feelings of each of the characters. They will also discuss what it means to be true to ourselves.
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  • Students will be able to define "empathy."
  • Students will be able to explain what it means to have different perspectives.
(15 minutes)
  • Bring students into a circle, either seated in chairs or on the floor.
  • Ask them to raise their hands if they have heard of the word "empathy." (Let them know that it is okay if they have not heard this word before.)
  • Ask, "Does anyone know what the word means?"
  • Write the word "empathy" on the board and all that the class already knows about the word.
  • Explain that empathy means putting yourself in someone else's shoes and trying to understand how they feel. Sometimes, when challenging things happen to us, it's hard to have empathy. But it can help us connect with others who have been through similar experiences, and be there for them in a truly meaningful way.
  • Give the class the following scenarios to see if they can give you more information on what empathy may mean, and add their responses to the list on the board:
    • Your friend is having a bad day, and you want to do something special for them. You draw them a picture of one of their favorite things to cheer them up.
    • A new girl in class is sitting by herself at lunch, and you decide to go over and talk to her.
  • Explain that these are both stories of empathy. Ask, "How can we add to our definition on the board?"
  • Show the students the book Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall.
  • Explain to them that empathy is about understanding different perspectives. Ask them to try and notice the different perspectives in the story. Write on the board "Red's perspective," "Teacher's perspective," and "Mom's perspective."
  • Read the story to the class.
  • Afterwards, ask them, "How did Red feel? How did his teacher feel? How did his mom feel?"
(5 minutes)
  • Read through Red: A Crayon's Story once again.
  • Afterwards, ask the class what Red was thinking and how he felt. Also, ask how his mom and teacher felt.
  • Write these perspectives on the board.
  • Ask the class, "How can we have empathy for Red (understand his situation)?"
  • Explain that the story also has a message of being true to ourselves. Ask, "How was Red true to himself? How can you be true to yourself?"
(5 minutes)
  • Review the different perspectives from the story on the board.
  • Show the class the Being True to You! worksheet, and review the instructions.
  • Dismiss the class to go back to their seats, and distribute the worksheets.
  • Ask one student to repeat the worksheet's instructions for the class.
(25 minutes)
  • Allow students to independently complete the Being True to You! worksheet.

Enrichment: Ask students to create a plan for how they can teach someone else about empathy.

Support: Work with students one-on-one while completing the worksheet. Provide concrete examples of empathy, and ask the student to define empathy in their own words with examples from their life.

(5 minutes)
  • Observe students during the independent working time. You may also collect worksheets to check for understanding of empathy and related concepts.
(5 minutes)
  • After all students have completed their worksheets, ask if anyone would like to share what they drew or wrote on their handouts.
  • Ask the following questions, one at a time:
    • How can having empathy be helpful?
    • How can it build friendships in the classroom?
    • What can we do to remind ourselves to be understanding of others?
    • What does it mean to be true to ourselves?
    • How can we allow others to be true to themselves?

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