Learning and Sharing


on November 2, 2014

The word Empathy on a cork notice board

The word empathy is used to describe a wide range of experiences.  It is usually defined as the ability to sense other people’s emotions and imagine how they are feeling or what they are thinking.  There are two types of empathy: affective and cognitive.  Affective empathy refers to the feelings we get in response to others’ emotions.  Cognitive empathy, sometimes called perspective taking, refers to the ability to identify and understand other peoples’ emotions.

The second, third, and fourth grade Lunch Buddies read



Miranda Peabody is a very smart, young girl.  She has no patience for other students and doesn’t understand why they are not as smart and talented as she.  Ms. Klemp, Miranda’s teacher, suggests that she try “standing in their shoes”.  ???  Not knowing the meaning of “standing in their shoes”, Miranda experiments and investigates.  Her wise neighbor helps her understand the true meaning of empathy for others.

This book had a powerful effect on the Lunch Buddies.  Before reading we discussed the possible meaning of the word empathy and  “standing in their shoes” .  As I read the book, I could see the understanding in their eyes and hear it in their comments.

Miranda and the Lunch Buddies learned that “standing in someone else’s shoes” means having empathy.  To show empathy you must think of a time when you felt the same way as another person, or pretend to be the person you are trying to understand.  Add these tools to your toolbox: listen without interrupting and look for people having trouble and offer to help.

We will extend the lesson next week using these visuals from


And follow-up by practicing showing concern and what we have learned with picture scenarios, also from  Here is just one example




Happy November!





2 responses to “Empathy

  1. I’ve never explored different types of empathy- thanks! When I was in elementary, I did a lesson where I brought in different types of shoes (children/adult/feminine/sport/etc) and had the student describe the person who might wear those shoes. I also had stories attached to some and did different activities and guided questions.

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