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Teaching Empathy with Stand in My Shoes

by Bob Sornson

stand in my shoes

Grades: K-4

CASEL Standard: Social-Awareness: The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and contexts.

Character Education Lesson Objective: To understand what empathy is and identify ways to demonstrate empathy to others in a variety of different situations


Part 1:

  • Have you ever heard the saying, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?” What does it mean?
  • “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” means that you should think about and figure out how the other person might be feeling.
  • If you see someone sitting alone at lunch or someone with no one to play with at recess, you should think about how you would feel in that situation. The person you see probably feels the same way that you would.
  • They would probably feel sad and upset. When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you are able to understand how they feel.
  • Understanding how someone else is feeling can help you to know how to speak with that person or what you might be able to do to help.
  • I am going to give you a worksheet that has different situations that people are in. You are going to read each situation and think about how that person would feel.
  • Then, write down, or draw, how you think they would feel and what you could do to make them feel better.
  • Have the students complete the worksheet, either as a whole group or individually. If the students complete the worksheet individually, go over it after they are done.
  • Engage the students in a conversation about each situation, how the person feels and what could be done to make the person feel better. Point out that there are different ways to approach each situation.

Part 2:

  • We are going to be reading a book called, Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson.
  • Read the book.
  • What does Emily do after Alicia tells her about empathy?
  • How do the people with whom Emily interacts feel after spending a little time with her? Why do you think they feel that way?
  • Emily is thoughtful about how she interacts with the different people she sees during the day. Can you think of a time that you were thoughtful before you interacted with
  • someone?
  • Every time that Emily interacts with someone new, she demonstrates empathy. Do you think it takes a long time and is something that is hard to do? Why or why not?
  • Emily learns that showing people she cares and demonstrating empathy makes the people she is interacting with feel good and it also makes her feel good.
  • Demonstrating empathy doesn’t take a long time and it is not hard to do. You should try to be thoughtful and demonstrate empathy when you interact with other people. Try to notice how they feel and how you feel also!

Part 3:

  • Emily demonstrated empathy in many different ways throughout her day. She helped her dad and Rosie at the bus stop. She noticed how her teacher and her mom were feeling. She noticed that Mrs. Wattles in the cafeteria and Mr. Redmond both had hard jobs. She noticed how Tommy and Rosie were feeling and were able to help them. She noticed that Mr. Peterson always says something kind to every student who gets on the bus.
  • You are now going to think of different ways that you can demonstrate empathy throughout your day. Think about what Emily did and what you think you could do.
  • You are going to write down those different ways on a shoe. You can then hang the shoe someplace where you can see it every day to help you remember to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and demonstrate empathy.
  • This activity can be done as a whole group activity or an individual activity. If done individually, have the students share their ideas once they have completed the activity.
  • Point out that there are many different ways to demonstrate empathy.


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Written by Kimberly Greacen, Education World® Contributing Writer

Kimberly is an educator with extensive experience in curriculum writing and developing instructional materials to align with Common Core State Standards and Bloom's Taxonomy.

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