Helping Others Activity

Nothing feels better than when things run smoothly and go according to plan, but we all experience life’s hiccups from time to time, and unexpected challenges can pop up anywhere. For students, situations involving conflict or uncertainty with peers are particularly tricky. Fear over saying or doing the wrong thing and potentially harming friends or friendships can paralyze students, leaving them feeling stuck, powerless, or afraid to act when things go unexpectedly.

Fortunately, research suggests that while children may be hesitant to take action when conflict arises, they do, generally, believe that caring for others is important. With a little practice, students can develop the skills necessary to think carefully through challenges, and act in ways that are helpful in resolving conflicts and solving problems for themselves and others.

This helping others activity invites students to use role-play to explore perspectives, feelings, and dialogue while considering helpful solutions to challenging situations.

Helping Others Activity Pin

Recommended Grade Level: Elementary

SEL Skill(s): Empathy, Social Initiation

Duration: 30 minutes


Helping Others Activity Instructions

Prompt: Explain to students that today they will try on 3 different hats: dancer, actor, and illustrator!

Kinesthetic Warm Up

Begin by playing a round of freeze dance. Play music for periods of 10-15 seconds, then pause the music unannounced.

Challenge students to freeze in place when the music stops and enjoy a giggle if it proves a bit tricky! (Don’t send anyone “out” if they miss the mark, however this is just for fun!)

After a few rounds, have students stretch and take 3 calming breaths before sitting to focus on the conversation.

Explain to students that it can be a lot of fun to get stuck in the middle of dancing when you are playing a game, but not so fun if you get stuck in a tricky situation and don’t know what to do.

Ask students if they’ve ever been having a great time with friends or family and then something unexpected happened and they were unsure of what to say or do, or how they could help. Allow students to share their experiences.


Hold up the Scenario Cards and tell students that they will examine tricky situations and consider ways to get “unstuck” in them, take action, and help.

Invite one pair of students per scenario to step forward and role play. As you read the cards ask the following questions:

Scenario 1

  • Student A: If you were Serena, how do you feel and why?
  • Student B: If you saw this happen to Serena, what could you say/do?

Scenario 2

  • Student A: If you were Destiny, how do you feel and what can you do?
  • Student B: If you were sitting at the table, what can you do for Destiny?

Scenario 3

  • Student A: If you were Brandon how do you feel and what can you say?
  • Student B: If you were Nick, what might you say instead?


Give each student a Helping Others worksheet and invite them to illustrate solutions to the tricky situations. Allow them to share and compare their solutions with friends, recognizing that there are many ways to get “unstuck” and help others!

Lesson Extension Using Zoo U


With Centervention’s Zoo U program, students have a lot of opportunities to help their classmates.

For example in scene 4 of Empathy skill silo, Lester is misbehaving and drops a water balloon on a classmate, and several people laugh and make fun. Your students must identify the hurt students’ feelings and decide whether to join in and make fun of him or help him clean up.

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