Neal's Story

Read a short story together, then discuss how the main character would respond to different situations.
Ages 8-10 / 30
min Activity
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  • Practice perspective taking by reading a story and imagining the character's feelings in different situations 
  • Compare the character’s feelings to their own feelings, and identify differences and similarities between their reactions to the same situation 
  • Reflect on the importance of perspective taking in understanding others and showing kindness to them

Supporting Research

Researchers have identified several benefits of perspective taking, such as forming and strengthening social bonds between people through decreased prejudice and stereotyping, and increased social coordination and competence. This activity focuses on students’ perspective taking and self-awareness as they imagine a character’s feelings in different situations and compare his emotions to how they would feel in these situations, and consider different factors that shape their unique perspectives. 

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 students the following questions: 
    • What do you think perspective taking is? 
    • Why is it an important skill to practice? 

    Then, you might say: “Perspective taking is when we look at a situation from someone else’s point-of-view, or we “put ourselves in their shoes”. We understand that everyone has their own thoughts, experiences, and feelings, and this affects how we behave or react in a certain way. Perspective taking helps us better connect with others and respect our differences, because we recognize that we all have our own way of seeing the world.”
  2. Create a list of strategies for perspective taking, such as: 
    • Remember that everyone has their own thoughts and feelings 
    • Try to understand why someone might act in a certain way, like their past experiences, culture, and beliefs 
    • Imagine how you would feel if you were in their situation 
    • Ask questions with an open, curious mind to better understand their perspective  
  3. Next, distribute a copy of the “Neal’s Story” handout to students. First, students should fill out Column A to share how they would feel in different situations, like their family getting a pet dog, based on their own perspective. 
  4. Then, read “Neal’s Story” together, which is located on the second page of the handout. 

    After finishing the story, students should return to the first page and fill out Column B to imagine how Neal might feel in the same situations.

    You might say: “As you answer each question from Neal’s perspective, try to imagine what his life is like - it might be very different from your own! What information did you learn from his story? What are his experiences and preferences? Try to put yourself in his shoes to figure out how he might feel about each situation.” 
  5. After students have completed the handout, facilitate a Turn-and-Talk exercise in which students compare their answers with a classmate and discuss the following questions together: 
    • How are our feelings about the scenarios similar or different? Why?
    • How are our feelings similar or different to how we imagined Neal’s feelings? What strategies or information did we use to imagine Neal’s feelings? 
    • Why do you think people might have different feelings about the same situation? What shapes each person’s unique perspective? 
    • How could we use our understanding of Neal’s feelings to show him kindness and empathy in one of the situations? 
    • How can recognizing and understanding different perspectives help us practice kindness and empathy for people in our own lives? 

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.