I have seen several versions of this empathy lesson all over the internet and I am looking forward to a classroom lesson with the young kids (1st graders?) to try it this way. This lesson is about teaching students to “put themselves into someone else’s shoes” – literally!
I would teach students the following steps for how to show empathy:
1. Recognize and identify how the other person is feeling.
2. Acknowledge the person’s feelings by stating, “You must feel ______.” This will make the person feel understood or have a chance to clarify how they really feel.
3. Do something to help.
Next is the fun part, which I think is very clever!! Present the students with a stack of shoe boxes and inside each shoe box include a pair of old shoes and a scenario. The shoes can be all different types of shoes from all different types of people (ex. sneakers, soccer cleats, construction boots, flip flops, slippers, high heels, etc). The scenarios can describe short biographies of who the shoes belong to (ex. “These soccer cleats belong to Tim. Tim is a soccer goalie and the other team scored the winning goal against him during his soccer game. A couple of his teammates said it is Tim’s fault they lost.”) Students can take turns picking a shoebox and “putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.” As a class, they can practice showing empathy by using the steps above for each scenario.
Side note: Two good books to go with this lesson are “How Do I Stand in Your Shoes?” by Susan DeBell and “Stand in My Shoes” by Bob Sornson