Empathy Lesson Plan

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson plan prepares your class for understanding empathy and sympathy with two quizzes, class discussion topics and questions, as well as an activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • briefly define empathy and sympathy
  • understand the key difference(s) between empathy and sympathy
  • provide examples of sympathy and empathy


60-90 minutes


Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

Key Vocabulary

  • Empathy
  • Sympathy
  • Person-centered approach
  • Self-actualization

Warm Up

Warm-up the class by asking the following questions, allowing 3-5 minutes for discussion:

  • Can anyone tell me the definition of empathy and sympathy?
  • Can anyone give me an example of empathy from their own life?
  • Can anyone give me an example of sympathy they've encountered?

Instructions & Discussion Questions

  • Give each student a handout of Empathy vs Sympathy and What Is Empathy? - Definition & Examples. They should read both prior to coming to class and take notes so they can effectively engage in the discussion and activity that follows.
  • Now, read the Empathy vs Sympathy, pausing after the 'Sympathy and Empathy' section:
    • Can someone define sympathy for me?
    • Can anyone give me an example of empathy?
  • After the 'Psychology & Emotions' section:
    • What is the person-centered approach?
    • Why is it important in mental healthcare?
  • After the 'Why Empathy?' section:
    • Show the class the image of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, explaining how it applies to this lesson.
    • Discuss why empathy is important for self-actualization.
  • Now introduce and play the lesson: What Is Empathy? - Definition & Examples.
  • Answer any remaining questions, before moving on to the lesson quiz on 'Empathy vs. Sympathy' and the lesson quiz on 'What is Empathy? - Definition & Examples'.

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