Getting students to think about others and having empathy should be at the heart of every lesson and interaction. These 33 empathy prompts will help you create a classroom of caring and understanding students.

Here’s how you can use these empathy prompts in your classroom throughout the year:

  • Have a slide displayed on your board when students walk into class and have students write down an answer on a sticky note.
  • Share the slideshow in your online classroom along with a link to a Google doc for students to respond.
  • Put up a prompt for students to read and have a class discussion about what they would do or how they feel about the situation.
  • Pair students up and have them share their ideas based on the prompt. Bring students back together to share their ideas as a class.

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1. You and your friend auditioned for the lead role in a play. You found out that you got the lead role. Your friend is upset with you. How would you handle this situation?

Allstate Empathy Prompt 1 shown on cell phone with blue background

2. Your friend has told you about a problem they had but you don’t know what to say or how to help them. How might you make them feel better?

Image of prompt on cell phone screen

3. A friend has opened to you about how they’re feeling at home now that their parents have divorced. How do you respond to your friend?

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4. If you asked your friend how they were doing and they told you everything about their day that went wrong, how would you respond?

Empathy prompts on a cell phone

5. A new student has started in your class, and they don’t know where anything is on campus and don’t have any friends. How can you make them feel comfortable?

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6. Your friend just tried out for the basketball team and didn’t make it. How would you comfort them?

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7. A classmate shared that their dog passed away over the weekend. How would you respond to the classmate?

Prompt about empathy on a cell phone screen

8. You heard another student call your friend a bad name on the playground. How would you handle the situation?

Empathy prompts for students

9. Your friend did poorly on a test at school and is nervous to tell his mom. What would you say?

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10. You see a new classmate on the playground sitting by themselves reading a book. What would you do?

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11. A student walks into your classroom with their arms folded and head down. How might they be feeling and how can you help them?

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12. A classmate is really struggling with solving a math problem. They break their pencil and throw it to the ground. How would you handle the situation?

Empathy prompts on cell phone

13. Your friend told you they had a tough morning before getting to school. They don’t really want to tell you what happened, but you can tell they’re pretty upset. How would you handle this situation?

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14. You are trying to tell your siblings a story, but your mom keeps interrupting you. How does this make you feel?

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15. You notice a classmate taking money out of another classmate’s backpack. How does this make you feel? How would you handle this situation?

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16. During a social studies test, you notice a classmate looking at their social studies book inside their desk. What should you do?

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17. Your friend is being disrespectful to the teacher during a lesson. How does this make you feel? What should you do?

Empathy prompts on a cell phone background

18. Your friend tells you that they’re really excited about being on the basketball team, but you haven’t told them yet that you didn’t make the team. How would you handle this situation?

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19. Your friend is upset with you because you earned a higher score on the math test than they did even though you studied together. How does this make you feel? How would you handle this situation?

Empathy prompts

20. Your brother lied to your parents about where he was going after school. You don’t want him to get in trouble, but you also want to be honest with your parents. What do you do?

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21. You’re all taking turns reading aloud in front of a small group in class. A classmate doesn’t want to read aloud, so he storms out of the classroom. What would you do?

empathy prompts on cell phone screen

22. You notice a classmate walking alone behind you and your group of friends who are walking together. How does this make you feel? What would you do?

Prompt for number 22 on a cell phone screen

23. A friend doesn’t understand the assignment in class but is too afraid to ask the teacher. How would you help?

Empathy prompts

24. You hear classmates making fun of the new student and the way he speaks English. How does this make you feel? What would you do?

Empathy prompts

25. Your friend is frustrated because she has too much work to do for her English class. She also has dance class and other family commitments. She has told you she is overwhelmed and starts crying. How does this make you feel? What would you do to help?

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26. Your two friends, who have been friends for a long time, are not talking to each other anymore. How would you handle this situation?

Empathy prompts

27. You know your friend isn’t happy because they aren’t telling you as much as they used to and they’ve been distant. How does this make you feel? How would you handle this situation?

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28. Your friend is feeling like they can’t do anything right. They haven’t made any sports teams they’ve tried out for, and they keep forgetting to turn in assignments. How might you help or encourage your friend?

Empathy prompts

29. You have a new friend who is learning English. They have trouble understanding assignments and making other friends. How does this make you feel? How would you help?

Empathy prompts

30. Your friend can’t get the latest fashion or even the trendiest shoes. You know she’s upset that everyone else has new clothes. How does this make you feel? What should you do?

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31. A classmate comes to school every morning wearing the same clothes. Some people don’t want to sit next to him because he smells. How does this make you feel? What would you do?

Number 31 empathy prompt on a cell phone background

32. A classmate’s family is very well-known in your community, but everyone knows that your classmate is not the nicest person. He doesn’t have many friends, but always uses his family to get on the teams at school. People talk badly about him behind his back. How does this make you feel? How would you handle this?

Empathy prompts

33. A friend just lost a grandparent to cancer. They were very close to their grandparent and not their parents. How does this make you feel? What would you do?

Empathy prompts

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The majority of teachers, students, and parents agree: Social Emotional Learning (SEL), like this empathy activity, belongs in schools. Visit the Leading with SEL website for actions you can take to support SEL.