Put Yourself In Place Of Me

So I'm in my second guidance rotation and I'm having a blast challenging and stretching our character kids. This round of classes finds us talking about character as our super power, specifically the virtue of empathy. As the students file in and are being seated, they're looking for the words super power in this word search. They'll also find a few bonus character words, just for fun.

You can probably tell by the three shoeboxes that we're doing Tanya's Empathy In A Shoebox lesson. It's been so engaging and their ideas and responses so compassionate. Here are the three scenarios we used: 

I am a baby and something’s not right so I’m going to the Doctor. I haven’t been sleeping well so I’ve been kind of fussy lately. It could be that I’m cutting some teeth, but mom’s not sure. She wants me to stop crying but it’s really hard. I’m too young to explain how I’m feeling because I don’t talk yet. What do you think I need? What do you think my mom needs? How are we feeling? How can you tell? How could you use your super power to help us? 

I am staying home today because my tummy doesn't feel right. Actually, mom and dad broke up this summer and I moved. I don’t like my new school because I don’t feel safe there yet. I really wish I could go back to my other school! This is my third day to miss school so far and my mom says she’ll get fired if she has to keep taking off of work to stay home with me.  Put yourself in my shoes. What do you think is going on with me? How can I fit in better at my new school so these butterflies in my tummy go away? What do I need?  What does my mom need? If I were in your class, what super power would you use to help me?

I am the mom of one little girl and we’re homeless right now. It’s not like we’re living on the streets, though. We’re in this nice program where we get to live at a church for two weeks before we have to go to another church. The people feed us and we have a place to sleep and shower. I used to be a Librarian but I don’t have a job now, so I’m looking for work so that I can find somewhere for us to live and be able to pay the bills. Put yourself in place of me. How do I feel? What do I need? What does my daughter need? How could you help us with your super power?

After we finish with the shoebox scenarios, we recite this little poem (coupled with this brain break as a visual representation) to reinforce the concept of empathy. 
It's empathy, it's empathy, 
when you put yourself in place of me 
it's empathy.

Here's a kindergarten demo:

As you can see, this is not an easy task, but neither is empathy sometimes. The good news is that the more you work at it, the better you get at switching places and feeling empathy! 

As a launch, we crank up the Bunny Hop music and give ourselves a meaningful movement moment and sing it in all sorts of different voices: a baby, a granny, a horse, a whisper, a big man, etc.


  1. Have I ever told you that you are awesome with this character stuff???????????? I mean like-AWESOME!


  2. WoW - thank you SO much, Shannon! I got the shoebox idea from a reader whom I asked to guest post, so it truly is the synergy of our collaboration that makes me better.

    Thank you for your gift of encouragement!


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