Lesson 2: People around me: Other people’s feelings

Using an inspirational story, pupils consider what other people might be thinking and feeling to help develop their ability to empathise with others.

Learning objective

  • To recognise how others show feelings in different ways and how to respond

National curriculum

All schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice.

The PSHE Association Programme of Study recommends pupils are taught:

  • H12. how to recognise and name different feelings
  • H14. how to recognise what others might be feeling
  • H16. about ways of sharing feelings; a range of words to describe feelings
  • H18. different things they can do to manage big feelings, to help calm themselves down and/or change their mood when they don’t feel good

Success criteria

  • I know that not everyone feels the same
  • I can describe what someone else might be thinking
  • I can describe what someone else might be feeling
  • I can describe what emotions might look like on the outside

Cross-curricular links

  • None relevant for this lesson

Before the lesson


  • Teacher video: People around me
Teacher video: People around me

Have ready

  • The story ‘On Sudden Hill’ by Linda Sarah and Benji Davies (a print copy or find a reading online)
  • Activity: Person outline (from Lesson 1)
  • Activity: Etho, Shu, Birt  (see Classroom resources)
  • Colouring pencils (enough for a selection per table or children)

Download classroom resources

Activity: Etho, Shu, Birt
icon download

Attention grabber

Read the beginning of ‘On Sudden Hill’ up to the point where Etho is on his own, not wanting to play.

Hand out colouring pencils to each table of children and the Activity: Person outline to each pupil. Ask the class to use different colours (using the pencils on their desks) to show how Birt might be feeling.

Ask if the children can think of any other words to describe some of these more complex emotions and note these down on the board. Outside the outline, note down how they might be able to see this emotion on the outside, e.g.: a smile/being quiet.

Main event

Show the Activity: Etho, Birt and Shu. Discuss the characters based on what the children know about them so far.

Ask the children to discuss what they each might be thinking in this situation and then feedback. The children can then act this out in groups of three. Give the children time to develop their answers and explain why the character would be thinking that.

Ask them to fill out the thought bubbles using the ideas from their discussions.

Look out for any pupils who describe what they would be thinking rather than basing it on the character, as they might need more support in this activity.

Then move onto asking the children to consider how they would be feeling. They can use the colours from Lesson 1 or write emotions.

As a class, discuss what each of the characters might say or do when thinking and feeling this way.

Then more generally, discuss the different things that they can do to manage big feelings, to help calm themselves down and/or change their mood when they do not feel good.

Key questions

  • What would they be thinking?
  • How would they be feeling?
  • How might they show these feelings on the outside? Facial expression, tone of voice, language used.


Pupils needing extra support: Might need simpler examples where it is clear that the character would think and feel something very different to themselves.

Pupils working at greater depth: Should use a range of vocabulary to describe emotions in order to be more specific. Could explain how someone else is feeling through empathising with them. Could add a speech bubble to each character to show what they might say as a result of what they are feeling. Could explain the different things they can do to manage big feelings.

Wrapping up

Using their knowledge of how people show emotions, ask the children to predict what might happen next in the story. Continue to the end of the story, stopping at key points to ask what the characters might think and feel.

Assessing pupils' progress and understanding

Pupils with secure understanding indicated by: Describing what someone else might be thinking and feeling.

Pupils working at a greater depth indicated by: Using a variety of feelings words to describe how other people might be feeling and understand how these can represent a mix of emotions. Empathising with other people, referring to what that person likes, dislikes or is like to explain why they might think or feel differently. Explaining the different ways to manage big feelings.


  • Action

  • Emotions

  • Feeling

  • Strategy

  • Thinking

Created by:
Elaine Bousfield,  
Wellbeing specialist
Elaine worked for many years as a therapist with young people. She is the founder and chair of XenZone and its children and young people’s counselling service, kooth.com. Kooth delivers an online counselling and therapy service. It is also an online community…
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