Lesson plan

Learning to Listen With My Heart

Gabi Garcia's "Listening With My Heart" provides students with an opportunity to reflect on ways to extend themselves compassion all year long. This engaging lesson supports students in understanding what kindness is, as well as how to be kind to themselves and others in their daily lives.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to explain what it means to listen with their heart.
  • Students will be able to explain the central message of a story.
(10 minutes)
  • Gather the students together in a circle.
  • Write the following sentence starter on the whiteboard:
    • I can be kind by ____.
  • Model completing the sentence (e.g., I can be kind by listening to my friend.)
  • Have students think-pair-share their ideas with a partner.
  • Record their responses on the whiteboard.
  • Explain to the students that they will listen to and watch a music video. Explain that while they watch the video, you want them to think of some ways they see the characters (e.g., the singer and monsters) being kind to each other.
  • Use a projector or document camera to show students the Sesame Street: Try a Little Kindness on YouTube.
  • Allow students to share out the ways they saw the characters being kind to each other. Record their ideas on the whiteboard alongside the previous ideas.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Story Map worksheet each student.
  • Project your copy of the worksheet on the whiteboard and explain to the students that today you will read a story about a very special kid named Esperanza.
  • Elaborate by telling the students that as you read, you are going to guide them in filling out the Story Map worksheet.
  • Review the basic parts of a story with your students (e.g., title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, and end).
  • Encourage student participation by asking them to explain the parts of a story in their own words. Clarify any misunderstanding before moving forward.
(20 minutes)
  • Begin reading, Listening With My Heart by Gabi Garcia to your students.
  • Pause to fill in the Story Map worksheet as you go along. Ask students prompting questions to dig deep into the book's central message, such as:
    • How was Esperanza a good friend to Bao?
    • What are some ways you can be a good friend?
    • How did Esperanza feel when she tripped on stage?
    • Why was it important that Esperanza realized she hadn't been treating herself as a friend?
    • What are some ways you make yourself feel better after having a bad day?
  • Continue this process as you make your way through the story. Assist students in completing the Story Map worksheets and record answers on your copy (projected on the whiteboard) to guide students in completing their worksheets.
  • Write the words heart, self-compassion, and listen on the whiteboard. Define the words in student-friendly language, for example:
    • heart: our hearts are part of our body, but we also might say with heart to show that we are doing something with love and kindness
    • listen: to pay close attention
    • self-compassion: to treat ourselves kindly, the way we'd treat a friend
  • Ask students to think about why the author, Gabi Garcia, used the title Listening With My Heart for her book.
  • Have students think-pair-share and then share their ideas with the whole group. Explain to the students that to listen with our heart reminds us to treat ourselves with kindness. If we treat ourselves with kindness, we practice self-compassion.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out the Sending Kindness Reflection Questions to each student. Review the directions and have a student volunteer repeat them back in their own words.
  • Explain to the students that first they will complete the worksheet, and next they will turn over the worksheet and answer the following question through words and drawing:
    • What message did Gabi Garcia want us to learn from her story?
  • Give students sufficient time to complete the worksheet.


  • Allow students to work in a small, teacher-led group during independent work.
  • Provide students with blank paper to draw a picture of ways they can send kindness to themselves and others.
  • Role play a few examples of being kind prior to having students complete the worksheet.


  • Challenge students to create a classroom or school-wide bulletin board with the heading, "We Can Listen With Our Hearts."
  • Encourage students to define what it means to "listen with your heart" and let them type up their ideas on a computer. Have students print out their explanation and place it under the title (you can have multiple students do this if so desired).
  • Throughout the year, give students the task of adding examples of their classmates "listening with their hearts" in writing, photographs, and art pieces. Share this special bulletin board with student families when they visit!
(10 minutes)
  • Have students gather in a circle and share their finished worksheets with the rest of the class.
  • Collect student worksheets and use them to gauge student understanding of important concepts and vocabulary from the lesson, as well as the central message of the story.
(5 minutes)
  • Instruct students to finish one of the following sentence starters with an elbow partner to close the lesson:
    • I can be kind to myself by ____.
    • I can be kind to others by ____.
    • Self-compassion is important because ____.
    • The main lesson I learned from the story was ____.

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