Forgiveness Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Forgiveness is an important concept for students to understand for healthy social-emotional growth. This lesson plan gives ideas for teaching the concept of forgiveness, then supporting and practicing with activities.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define and explain forgiveness.
  • Discuss and identify why forgiveness is important.


45 minutes for core lesson, plus 30-50 minutes for each supporting activity

Curriculum Standards


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).


Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.


Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.


  • Backpacks (using student bags is fine)
  • Books

Key Vocabulary

  • Forgive
  • Forgiveness
  • Sorry
  • Regret
  • Conscience
  • Hurtful
  • Resentful


  • Ask students to think of a time someone did something to them that was hurtful. Define the term 'hurtful' if necessary. Share your own example of a friend who cancelled plans you were excited about at the last minute, or use your own personal experience as an example.
  • When students have their thought, allow them to briefly share the story with a partner. Remind students to show care and understanding during this and other share times with their peers.
  • After both partners have shared, ask students:
    • How did you feel about the person who hurt you?
    • What did it feel like to be angry/sad/resentful towards this person?
  • Now have students put on their backpacks and explain that holding onto these feelings is a heavy load. Place several books into each child's backpack and have them walk around the room.

Direct Instruction

  • Come back together as a whole group and have students describe how it feels to carry the load.
  • Ask students to imagine the heavy books are like their negative feelings. How does it feel to carry these feelings?
  • Have students brainstorm with a partner how they can 'let go' of these negative feelings, guiding students towards the concept of forgiveness.
  • Define 'forgiveness' with students, then share how you were able to forgive the person in your story.
  • Have partners share a way they can forgive the person in their story, then have them remove the books from one another's bags. Compare and contrast how it felt to forgive. Did it lighten the load? Does it make them feel happier?
  • Brainstorm reasons why forgiving others is a positive step and how it helps us grow and learn. How does it feel to forgive? How does it feel when someone else forgives us?
  • Have students journal about forgiveness, sharing how forgiving others is a good thing.

The Language of Forgiveness

For this activity, students will learn and practice how to say they're sorry (and mean it!) and how to accept another's apology with grace.


  • Role-playing situation cards, one for each small group
  • Props, if desired

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