Do you know anything about the Roots of Empathy program? It is a great program that involves bringing a baby into the classroom once a month along with a pre and post lesson that focuses on a specific topic involving babies. Elementary age children are really drawn to these babies and being able to watch them grow over year does a lot to develop empathy and caring.
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I love Lauren's idea, but you may also want to focus on character education. You can choose a virtue each month and focus and model how students can use that virtue to demonstrate caring. For example, you could choose a virtue and then read stories about it, and have students explore it in writing and discussion. For example, if you're reading Charlotte's Web, you could focus on friendship and how you can demonstrate caring in friendship. Helping students to understand the thoughts and actions of caring people will help them to emulate the behaviors.
Hope this helps,
Building community through the Responsive Classroom approach is a critical way to help children learn to care for themselves and others in my classroom.
Here's a simulation, have them take care of hard-boiled eggs. And by the end of a day or two, reward them.
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