What Is Empathy? SEL Activities for Middle School

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Help students build important SEL skills and learn about empathy with this Social Emotional Learning (SEL) packet for middle school students.

In this packet, your middle schoolers read an introductory passage about empathy to help them learn about its importance and prepare themselves to explore scenarios that would require this essential skill. Students are encouraged to be thoughtful, flexible, and mindful throughout the activities, and there are many opportunities for problem-solving and reflection.

What’s Included

This packet of SEL activities will help students learn about empathy and build important social-emotional skills. This printable packet includes:

  • Printable reading passage on empathy with reflective reading prompt
  • Six scenario worksheets
  • Social media-inspired activity and worksheet.

Social Emotional Learning Activities in This Packet

Social Emotional Learning: What is Empathy?

Introduce students to the concept of empathy, why it is important, and why we should work to develop our empathetic skills. Once students have utilized close reading skills and made notes on the reading passage, have students reflect on a time when they had to demonstrate empathy using the writing prompt question.

Social Emotional Learning Role-Play Scenarios

Using these six scenarios, have students determine how they would show empathy in that situation. These worksheets can be used in several ways: for independent reading and reflection, working in small groups where students share their thoughts, or acting out roleplays and discussing different perspectives as a whole class.

Social Emotional Learning: Empathy in Social Media

Help students consolidate and summarise their understanding of empathy with a social media-inspired activity. Students should design a social media post to encourage people to practice empathy including a short definition in the caption and hashtags that would pair well with this post. Students could also use symbols and emojis to illustrate their ideas further.

Looking for More Like This?

Browse our Social Emotional Learning collection for SEL activities at elementary school, middle school, and high school grade levels. You’ll find printables, lesson plans, and resources to support your social-emotional learning curriculum, including activities to help students develop self-regulation, self-awareness, conflict resolution, relationship skills, and a growth mindset..

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About the author

Ashley Valentine


About Ashley

Ashley is a high school English teacher and instructional coach. Ashley has been teaching in New York State as a proud public educator since 2010. She has a Bachelor of… Read more

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