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Top Games That Teach Empathy

Kids who are in tune with other kids' emotions are off to a great start. They earn the trust of their peers. They can help mediate when tempers flare. One day, they may even use those perspective-taking skills to become organization or even world leaders. Developing empathy is an important skill that can be modeled and practiced in all classrooms. These tools will help students choose the opposing viewpoint, understand the needs of others, be able to interpret unspoken communication, and gain a more rounded view of themselves.

Interested in seeing tips on how you might use some of these tools in the classroom? Check out our Inspire Empathy in Your Students page.

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Avokiddo Emotions

Hilarious animals help kids identify emotions

Bottom line: This silly animal app is a fun way to teach kids about emotions and creativity.

Dr. Panda & Toto's Treehouse

Open play encourages empathy, critical thinking, imagination, wonder

Bottom line: Toto's Treehouse invites kids to play and explore -- just the way they learn best.

Four Little Corners - An interactive storybook app about friendship

Simple story about shapes showcases problem-solving and inclusion

Bottom line: This cute little story could be a nice launching pad for big discussions about friendship, tolerance, and acceptance.

Wee You-Things

Kids join the story celebrating uniqueness -- including their own

Bottom line: Wee You-Things may not be a book that kids revisit many times, but the message is powerful.

Zoo U

Research-based social game has terrific assessment potential

Bottom line: A powerful and focused social problem-solving game designed to reach kids who need direct instruction.

Who Am I? Race Awareness Game

Q&A game gets students talking about diversity honestly, responsibly

Bottom line: Kids learn to ask questions and have open conversations about diversity.

Hall of Heroes

Responsive game helps students prepare for transition to middle school

Bottom line: Wonderful and fun social-interaction game designed to teach cooperation and friendship skills needed for middle school and beyond.

Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are

Must-read graphic novel teaches relatable tween lessons

Bottom line: A hip, compelling read for tweens and teens looking for guidance and understanding of common social situations.

Spirits of Spring

Beautiful design, great story, stunning sound in powerful SEL allegory

Bottom line: With good context, a subtle, smart tool for exploring SEL topics with kids.

Journey

Gorgeous, moving adventure -- a jewel of social and emotional learning

Bottom line: Journey is a must-play experience and a shining beacon of the good that games can do.

Papo & Yo

Powerful tale of alcoholism uses puzzles and metaphor to build empathy

Bottom line: A beautiful game that's sure to build students' empathy skills and provoke deep conversations about alcoholism and abuse as well as metaphor.

Re-Mission 2

Six arcade-style games tackle tough subject of cancer

Bottom line: Hours of engaging gameplay will grab even non-gamers and, with some guided reflection, can spur serious learning about the human body.

Thomas Was Alone

Story-driven puzzle game teaches students to value their differences and help one another

Bottom line: This unexpectedly thoughtful and emotional puzzler could offer valuable lessons about friendship and empathy to kids experiencing trouble socializing.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Unique cooperative adventure with lasting social and emotional impact

Bottom line: With good support, an extremely powerful game to build empathy.

Spent

Provocative, first-person look at poverty builds empathy

Bottom line: It'll need some scaffolding, but for students ready for the subject matter it's a great -- if sobering -- way to illustrate to students the daily realities and struggles of poverty in America.

Global Conflicts

Role play, global conversations make social studies personal

Bottom line: Overall, this game ranks "best in class" for high school students, even if competition is slim.

Bury Me, My Love

Moving portrayal of the dangers and uncertainty of a Syrian refugee

Bottom line: It effectively connects students with the harrowing journey of a Syrian refugee, even though some of the interactive elements are underwhelming.

Liyla and the Shadows of War

Stark, arresting game offers emotional perspective on war's human toll

Bottom line: The short length and powerful themes make this an effective way to help students consider the brutal effects of war on families.

Papers, Please

Mature immigration game forces tough ethical choices

Bottom line: It's a provocative simulation about ethics and immigration that could spark debate but might be tough to implement.

This War of Mine

Strategy game offers superb, mature take on war and civilian survival

Bottom line: A stark portrayal of civilian life in a war-torn city that requires strategic thinking and invites repeated plays.

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