Lesson Plan Ideas

Lesson Plan Image

The Human-Animal Bond


  1. Learn about different kinds of feelings.
  2. Learn new vocabulary words associated with feelings.
  3. Recognize how animals have feelings, too.
  4. Develop the ability to empathize and be responsible for the effect of our actions and words on other’s feelings.
  5. Understand how empathy helps us to be kinder to animals and people.


Empathy is a skill essential for positive social behaviour. Talking about pets is a good starting point to teach this concept.

Curriculum Connection: Alberta Education Program of Studies

Health and Life Skills
Relationship choices – understanding and expressing feelings

Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3


Adapted with permission from Operation Outreach USA

Understanding Feelings

In this activity ask the students to name as many feelings as they can think of. Record them on chart paper: happy, sad, angry, surprised, proud, etc. Encourage students to volunteer examples of when they may have felt a particular feeling.

  1. Read these situations, one at a time, to the children. Follow the same procedures for each story. You may wish to use illustrations of each situation.
    • Situation 1: Bill came home from school. He came in the door. No one was there. He felt ____________.
    • Situation 2: Denise went over to Mary’s house to play. Mary was playing with Shakita. Denise felt ____________.
    • Situation 3: Kevin hit a home run. He felt ____________.
    • Situation 4: Jamal came home early. He saw a big chocolate cake. He felt____________.
    • Situation 5: Michelle broke her favorite toy. She felt _____________.
    • Situation 6: Tony’s mother came home with a new baby sister. Tony felt____________.
  2. Discuss, as a class, the possible answers to each situation. There is more than one response to each situation.
  3. Have students brainstorm and expand upon each situation to describe “what happened next?”
  4. Have the children illustrate each situation as they choose.
  5. Put each illustrated page together with a printed copy of the situational story so each child has a book to take home at the end of this activity.
    make a class "big book" with everyone's ideas.
    use the entire activity to create a large bulletin board display on feelings.
  6. As a follow-up activity have students create their own situational stories.
  7. Use drawings of themselves and/or magazine pictures which convey certain feelings focusing on facial expressions and body language. Create a mural or a book with different feelings illustrate section or page. This could be a group or an individual activity.

Pets have Feelings, too

Brainstorm things that make us happy or sad. Then talk about whether pets would feel the same way. Then discuss how do you feel if your pet is happy or sad? Can you understand how they are feeling?

Introduce the concept of empathy, which is the ability to understand and identify with another person or animal’s feelings or difficulties.

Empathy is a difficult concept for children to grasp, but they can understand empathy through examples. There are numerous instances during the day when the opportunity arises to ask students how they think another person is feeling and if they can’t feel the same way. Modeling empathetic behaviour will help students understand the concept better.

Ask students to think of time when a person they know was having a hard time and they could really imagine how that person was feeling. Could they do the same for an animal, for example seeing a lost animal and imagining how confused and scared they must be?

Talk about the meaning of the expressions:

What do these mean? How can having empathy make us kinder? For example, if we can imagine what it feels like when someone teases us, are we less likely to tease a person or pet?

Read one of the stories aloud - Rusty and Raymond or Greg’s Dilemma to students.

Discussion Questions for Rusty and Raymond:

Have students brainstorm vocabulary for how Rusty felt.

Discussion Questions for Greg’s Dilemma:

Brainstorm vocabulary for how Greg and Jessa each felt.

To end on a happier note, remind children that the Cochrane & Area Humane Society is here to help pets like Rusty and that we find homes for about 1,000 pets a year - all happy endings for those pets.

Additional Activity: Bird’s eye view

This is a further activity to learn empathy by experiencing the world from an animal’s viewpoint. Each student becomes an animal, for example, a mouse, elephant, etc. and wanders through classroom seeing it from animal’s viewpoint. Another approach would be to all pretend to be one animal, such as a mouse.

Find, make or draw “homes” for one of the small animals like a mouse.