Grades 3-5

Empathy Hearts

Engage students in a discussion about empathy and different ways to show care and concern for others.

Activity Partner
Total time estimate:
30-60 minutes
Activity Objectives
  • Students will engage in a discussion about both empathy and the kinds of actions that demonstrate care and concern for others
  • Students will understand that everyone has their own preferences around how they want others to treat them
  • Using this information, students will determine the most appropriate way to help their classmates when they are feeling sad, upset, or lonely

This activity supports the development of the following social-emotional skills: relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, and social awareness.


Engage students in a discussion around how they practice empathy for others by taking appropriate actions that are caring and helpful. Empathy is an important skill that helps us build strong connections with others. Practicing empathy consists of 1) considering another person’s point-of-view by “putting ourselves in their shoes,” 2) understanding and relating to their feelings, and 3) taking action to help them based on our understanding!

Ask students to imagine a classmate named Zee, who is sitting alone on the playground because their best friend just moved away. As students share their thoughts, record their responses on a physical or digital board that is visible to everyone. You might ask:

  • What do you notice about how Zee looks? What might their facial expression, body language, and energy level tell you?
  • What do you think Zee is thinking about?
  • Can you feel for a moment with Zee? What feelings might they be experiencing? Why?
  • What actions can you take to help Zee feel better?


Direct students to think about their own experiences receiving empathy from friends. How do they want others to treat them when they are feeling sad, lonely, or upset? Introduce students to the “Five Empathy Hearts,” which are:

  • Kind Words: Kind or reassuring words from your friends
  • Time Together: Spending time together doing something that you enjoy‍
  • Thoughtful Giving: Getting a small gift that is meaningful to your friendship
  • Comforting Presence: Having a friend hold your hand or sit with you to provide comfort
  • Helpful Acts: A friend performing small acts of kindness for you

Ask students which type of Empathy Heart they have, and use the handout below to draw or write how they want their friends to show them empathy. You might invite them to share about their Empathy Heart with the class to learn how everyone prefers to receive care and comfort. You might even display their Empathy Hearts in the classroom or hallways so students can see how they can best support each other with empathy.


Faciliate a live virtual exchange with your Empatico partner class, and invite students to share their stories and reflections with each other. For example, students might:

  • Practice the “Five Empathy Hearts” to show care and comfort for others during a week-long period, keep track of their actions using a chart or Padlet board, and share their data with each other
  • Share a story about a time that they received or showed empathy for others, how they felt during this experience, and what they learned from it‍
  • Create and share writing or artwork that shows how empathy looks, sounds, and feels to them

Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions:

  • What did you discover about yourself through this activity? What did you discover about your classmates?
  • Did you learn any new ways to practice empathy?
  • Do you have an empathy role model (a fictional character or a real person)? Why did you choose this person? How do they show empathy for others?
  • Why is it important to practice all three parts of empathy when trying to decide how to help another person? Why is it important that we consider the other person’s unique perspective, feelings, experiences, and preferences?

This activity was created in partnership with Six Seconds and POP-UP Festival.

Did you finish this activity? We'd love your input.