Break It Down

Read a set of stories and illustrate each character’s perspective on the situation.
Ages 8-14 / 45
min Activity
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  • Consider why people see things differently, and discuss factors that influence each person’s unique perspective 
  • Analyze different scenarios from the perspective of different characters, and illustrate each person’s thoughts and feelings 
  • Reflect on how perspective taking can foster kindness and empathy for others

Supporting Research

Perspective taking is an important ability that facilitates problem-solving, even when you disagree with the other person, as it increases cognitive flexibility to switch between differing viewpoints. Educators should encourage students to practice perspective taking as they imagine how different characters might see a scenario differently, and kindness as they consider how the characters could act compassionately based on their understanding of the other person’s perspective. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Activity Partners

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  1. Begin the activity by asking the following questions: 
    • Why do people see things differently? 
    • What makes each person's way of looking at the world special? (e.g., our past, what we believe, and who we are)
    • How can we practice seeing things from someone else's perspective? 
  2. Distribute a copy of the “Break It Down” handout to students. Explain that they will read about different scenarios, then illustrate each character’s perspective on the situation. For example, students can use speech and thought bubbles, facial expressions, and body language to depict each person’s thoughts and feelings. 

    Encourage students to imagine how the characters might have a different perspective on the situation based on their identity, past experiences, and hopes.  
  3. Once students have completed the handout, ask them to pair up with another student. For each story, pairs should discuss: 
    • What each character might be thinking and feeling
    • How the characters could imagine the other person’s perspective, and show them kindness and empathy 

    For example, in the first story, Ami is excited to watch the movie, and might feel confused or disappointed when Mo expresses his hesitation. Meanwhile, Mo might feel uncomfortable, sad, or frustrated because of how the character in the movie is depicted. Ami can try to understand Mo’s feelings by imagining how she would feel if a movie portrayed a character from her own background in a negative or stereotypical way. She could show kindness to Mo by acknowledging his feelings and expressing her support, and suggesting a different movie that they can watch together. 
  4. Lead a reflection by asking the following questions: 
    • Were there any characters who had the “right” perspective on the situation? What does this tell us about all the different ways to see a situation? 
    • In one of the stories we read, how could the characters have practiced perspective taking to make things better? How could they have shown kindness to the other person?
    • Why do you think it's important to understand how people see things, even if it's different from how we see things? How does this skill help us get along better with them? 
    • Can you share an experience when listening to someone else's ideas helped you learn something new? 

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.