- Learn about the three types of empathy (feeling, thinking, and acting) that help build positive relationships with themselves and others
- Play a game of truth-or-dare with prompts that support the development of empathy-centered skills such as mindfulness, kindness, and inclusivity
Researchers have established that cultivating empathy has a profound impact on an individual’s personal, academic, and social development. Empathy is associated with higher levels of emotional resilience, self-esteem, and life satisfaction, while also enhancing cognitive performance, academic learning, and grade scores. Moreover, empathy plays an important role in fostering social connectedness and cohesion, strengthening interpersonal relationships, and promoting more positive intergroup attitudes and reducing prejudice. Recognizing the importance of these outcomes on students’ well-being and success, this activity teaches and reinforces the practice of nine empathy-centered skills through a fun, engaging classroom game.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Print a copy of the “Empathy Truth-or-Dare” cards, cut along the dotted lines, and place the cards in two stacks (separating the “Truth” and “Dare” cards)
- Begin the activity by assessing students’ current understanding of “empathy”. You might ask:
• What is empathy? What does it look, feel, and sound like?
• What are some examples of empathetic actions?
- Then, show this video to students, which tells a simple story about how empathy can help us better connect with ourselves and others.
After watching the video, reinforce the meaning of empathy for students. You might explain: “As we saw in the video, empathy is an important skill that helps us understand and care about others’ feelings and experiences. Empathy has three parts: feeling, thinking, and acting. We recognize and show concern for someone’s feelings, think about their unique situation and perspective, and take action to support them. We can practice empathy towards ourselves, people who we know (like our classmates and family members), and even people who may initially seem different or unfamiliar to us.”
- Show students the Empathy Framework poster which depicts nine skills that support empathetic feeling, thinking, and acting towards ourselves, people who we know, and people who may seem different from us.
Then, write down the nine skills and types of actions that demonstrate each skill:
Feeling: recognizing and showing concern for someone’s feelings
• Mindfulness: identifying and managing our own emotions (e.g., by taking deep breaths when we feel overwhelmed)
• Emotion recognition: identifying another person’s emotions (e.g., by observing their facial expressions)
• Diplomacy: managing our own emotions, and being sensitive to others’ emotions, when we are around people different from us (e.g., by showing kindness and respect during a disagreement)
Thinking: thinking about someone’s unique situation and perspective
• Self-awareness: understanding our own thoughts, values, and behavior (e.g., by reflecting on different parts of our identity)
• Perspective taking: imagining another person’s unique thoughts and experiences (e.g., by considering how their beliefs and values might shape their behavior)
• Inclusivity: recognizing the value of diversity and getting to know people who are different from us (e.g., by asking questions about their identity and experiences)
Acting: taking action to support and help someone
• Self-care: caring for our own physical, mental, and emotional health (e.g., by eating well and exercising)
• Kindness: helping others (e.g., by giving a thoughtful compliment to someone)
• Collaboration: showing care and concern for people who are different from us (e.g., by working together to solve problems)
- After the discussion, introduce the activity to students: playing “Empathy Truth-or-Dare”!
To play the game, students should:
• Decide whether they will play individually or in groups (e.g., half the class playing against the other half).
• Take turns picking a “Truth” card or “Dare” card, and complete the task described in the card. The “Truth” cards will prompt them to share something about themselves, while the “Dare” cards challenge them to do something!
• Keep score, as each card contains the number of points that will be awarded if the prompt is completed to the satisfaction of their peers.
• Come up with their own prompts using the blank cards!
This game can be played as an icebreaker or warm-up activity during any time of the school year, or as part of a “brain break” or morning or afternoon classroom routine.
- After each round of the game, engage students in a short reflection by asking the following questions:
• Which task did you find the most enjoyable (either as a participant or viewer)? Why? Which empathy skill(s) does it support?
• What are some empathy skills that you are really great at? Which ones do you want to practice more?
• What are some other ways that we can practice one of the empathy skills in our everyday life?
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.