4 activities for building empathy in your students

Studies show that as the world becomes increasingly automated, computerised and digitalised, we are losing the very skills that define us as humans. Just when we need them the most.

According to World Economic Forum, young people are becoming less empathic than ever. American College students showed a 48% decrease in empathic concern and a 34% drop in their ability to see other people’s perspectives.

Empathy; understanding and responding with caring to what others think and feel, is one of the most important social skills that you need to develop in your students. Here are 4 activities for building empathy in children:

Feelings collage

This is a fun activity that you can find in Brookespublishing. Specially if some of your students are shy!

Bring a big stack of magazines to class and give each of your students art supplies (scissors, glue sticks, posterboard). Invite your students to cut pictures from the magazines of people expressing any kind of feeling, and instruct them to use these images to build a “feelings collage.” Every student needs to explain their collages.

Encourage your students to elaborate on the details of what they noted regarding the person’s facial expression, their body language, or the context of the photo or illustration. With this activity your students are practicing to identify their own feelings.

Different and similar

This is a fun activity provided for Preventing Bullying . Discuss the main ways that children are different from one another. Prompt them with examples, if needed:

  • Some girls are big, and others are small.
  • Some boys run fast, and others run slowly.
  • Some children like to play with blocks, and others like to draw pictures.

Then, ask your students: “Whats would our group be like if we were all the same?”. Explain that while at first might be fun, every person is different, and this differences among us make our group more interesting, stronger and better to do different things.

Appreciation Box

According to Edutopia, this is a fun activity for students less inclined to share with the whole group.

Create a box and place it in the back of the room with small slips of paper or sticky notes. The teacher and the students can leave appreciations for classmates in the box. Every few days, take out the appreciations and read them aloud. The goal is the students started writing appreciation notes for each other.

Someone else’s shoes

Teach students what the phrase means. Then, have them practice putting themselves into others’ shoes to imagine how they would feel in different circumstances. Giving them a craftivity and writing to complete, such as the one below, while discussing this topic will enforce the idea.

Remember: You can develop social emotional learning in your students through activities such as comics, questionnaires, storyboards, drawing tools, audiobooks and more…

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children, empathy, school, SEL, social emotional learning, students

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