Empathy is a difficult concept to grasp for children. A concrete way to teach empathy is through dramatic or pretend play. Every child has been to the doctor and it can bring up feelings of stress or anxiety, so they can relate to the poor little teddy bears that are feeling unwell. Maybe the teddy has a sore tummy, or a big bug bite, or a sniffly nose or they need a shot! Oh dear! Who can help these teddy bears feel better? Creating a teddy bear hospital is a wonderful way to introduce the concept of empathy.

Lab coat
Teddy bears or stuffed toy patients
Box for a bed
Play thermometers, stethoscopes, syringes – whatever you can find!
Band-Aids, cotton balls and bandages
Ice packs
Pretend flowers

Set up these materials in an area in your home and classroom and let your child/ren use their imagination and pretend play helping their teddy bear friends feel better!

How this activity relates to social and emotional learning

  • Children can relate to going to the doctor or feeling unwell and can put themselves in their teddy bears shoes and gain an understanding of empathy.
  • Dramatic play is a wonderful tool to allow children to actively experiment with real life scenarios.
  •  Encourages cooperative play.
  • Nurtures language and imagination.