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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Teaching Empathy Linky Party


        Maria Dismondy, the author of  Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun and Pink Tiara Cookies, has started a linky party titled "Make a Difference Monday" on her blog. On the first Monday of every month, Maria will focus on a different character trait. This month's trait is empathy. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another's place and recognize that they have feelings just like you.
       I have always tried to have my class participate in service projects where the children will be able to feel empathy for those that they are helping.  In December, we did daily Random Acts of Kindness. When I introduced the day we were going to bring in a toy or book from home to give away to a school in the low income district where I volunteer, we talked about how lucky we are.  I explained that last year I worked in a school where the children did not have as much money as we do. I also told them that many of my kindergartners shared a bed with their brothers and sisters.  I explained that I sent home a book each night for their mom or dad to read to them because many of the children didn't have books at home.  But more importantly, I told my class that the kids in last year's class were just like them in other ways. I told them how much they loved when I played freeze tag with them and how much they loved doing OREO words.  I think that it is much easier to be empathetic when we recognize the common experiences that we share with others.

The kids in Chester love to play Freeze Tag

The kids in Swarthmore love to play freeze tag

          I am frequently impressed with children's natural inclination to be empathetic.  Each week we pick the name of a student who will be the student star the next week.  There was one child (I'll call him Tim) who became more and more upset each week when his name was not picked. Although I would remind the class that everyone would get a turn, Tim really struggled to control his disappointment.  Tim's name was finally picked when there were still about 8 kids who hadn't had a turn.   One of the boys who had not yet been picked, immediately turned around and high-fived Tim.  The rest of the class broke out into cheers.  My heart expanded several sizes as I watched my students feeling genuine joy because of another's good fortune.  This is why I love my job. :)

Check out the other posts that have linked up with Maria's Make a Difference Mondays.


  1. Love this idea for a linky party! Thanks for stopping by and following my blog today. I'll be posting a new science activity each week, so stay tuned :)

    I am YOUR newest follower now!

  2. Oh wow, I am so glad you are a teacher! Thanks for this lovely post!

  3. Hi Cheryl, Thanks for your sweet comment. Did you see that your dragon puppets made an appearance in our class book about Alvin, the Sad Dragon. The kids loved the finger puppets. I can't wait to make more (I need to buy more felt :)

  4. Thank you so much for linking up! Your example is a wonderful example of teaching empathy! Next month's link party is on Respect! Maria Dismondy

    PS Don't forget to enter to win the giveaway for linking up!

  5. I love your story and how you teach your kids random acts of kindness.


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