Scenario #1: Bullying on the Playground
A bully and two of the bully’s friends are surrounding a child alone on the playground and making fun of his/her haircut. Another couple of children are watching from a short distance away but they aren't sticking up for the child.
Invite one child at a time to come and stand in the target’s shoes while others stand silently in the shoes of those in the scene.
Invite the child in the shoes to say what the target feels, and what he/she wants. It may help if they all start by saying, "This is what I feel... " "This is what I need or want... "
Allow a few more volunteers to stand in the target’s shoes. If you like, ask the bystanders to say what they feel and what they want as well. If the situation feels safe and you believe the children will be serious and respectful you can ask the children in the bully roles to say what they think those characters are feeling.
Scenario #2—Picked Last
Children are picking teams for a softball game. The last two children are left. Set out shoes for a few children on each team and two children left.
Invite children to come and stand in their shoes and say what they feel, and what they want. When everyone is done you can ask them to reflect on how they might act differently after feeling empathy.
Scenario #3—New Child in Class
A new child comes to school from a foreign country. Their English is not very good yet and they has a strong accent. When the teacher introduces them to the students and they says hello, my name is ____ a few of the other children laugh quietly.
Set up chairs as in a classroom and put the shoes of the new child under one of the chairs in the back. Put a few other pairs of shoes around for the children who laughed and a few for those who didn't.
Again invite volunteers to stand in their shoes and to answer the questions: "What do I feel?" "What do I want or need?"
When everyone is done, ask them to reflect on how they might feel or act differently after feeling empathy.
Scenario #4—Looking Different
There is a child who comes to school who has to wear a brace, thick glasses or has something about their appearance that is different. No one sits next to the child in the cafeteria at lunchtime.
Ask the children to help set up the chairs or tables and the shoes to create this scene and ask for volunteers to step into the shoes. Try to get as many children as possible to try on the shoes of this child.
Scenario #5—Little Sibling
A child wants to play alone with their friend but a younger sibling wants to tag along. The little sibling is on one side of a door crying. The older sibling and friend are on the other side.
Set up the shoes and let people try on the roles. When everyone is done you can ask them to reflect on how they might feel or act differently after feeling empathy.
Create your own scenarios that feel age-appropriate for the group.