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Classroom Activities that Teach Forgiveness

Janelle Cox

Looking back at your childhood, can you remember a specific time that you were wronged by one of your classmates? Sometimes certain events happen in your life that you’ll never forget because you had a hard time forgiving the person who caused you the pain. The ability to forgive is a decision that only you can make to let go of the resentment or hard feelings you have for the person that hurt you. Like adults, children can feel hurt by their peers. Luckily, there are classroom activities for teaching forgiveness so students can learn to forgive rather than try to get revenge. Here are a few classroom activities for you to try.

Classroom Activities: Start with a Discussion

Introduce the topic of forgiveness by simply talking about it. Invite students to share their experiences when they feel they were wronged by others as well as when they may have hurt someone. They may mention not being invited to a classmates’ birthday party or feeling hurt when their friend told another friend their secret. The experiences they share will probably hit home with a lot of their peers because they’ve also been in that situation. Talk about seeking forgiveness and why it’s important. Ask questions like, “When do you say you’re sorry?” Once the conversation gets rolling, you can mention how although it’s not always easy to forgive others, research shows that children who are able to let go of their angry feelings actually have a greater well-being.

Role-Play

One of the best classroom activities that you can do with students to help them understand forgiveness is to have them role-play different situations. For example, one student could confess a lie then ask for forgiveness or a student can lose their temper and then apologize. Group students together and have them brainstorm different scenarios, you’ll be surprised at what they can come up with. Then invite students to share their role-playing situations with the class. Not only will the students role-playing learn from this experience, but the students watching will, too.

Reflect Through Writing

While classroom activities like role-playing will help students understand both sides of forgiveness, writing can help students reflect upon their feelings about forgiveness. Writing can be a great outlet for children to try and understand their feelings in a more private manner. Students can journal their feelings about forgiveness or write a private essay discussing the topic. You can even have them reflect on the role playing scenarios in their journals.

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Teach Students How to Respond

A lot of the time, children have a knee-jerk reaction when they feel they were wronged by someone and think that an eye-for-an-eye is the way to solve the situation. While we all know that revenge is not the answer, some students may think otherwise. To help them learn to choose forgiveness, you must teach them to learn how to respond when they are in an uncomfortable situation. Students have three choices to choose from when someone has done something to hurt them. They can ignore it, get revenge, or forgive. A great way to teach students to choose to forgive is to give have them play the “What would you do?” game. This is where you read students a scenario and ask them to choose between the three choices (ignore, revenge, forgive). Give each student “Spotlight colors” of paper (red-revenge, yellow-ignore, green-forgive) for them to make their choice. Here are a few scenarios that you can read to students.

  • You just found out that your best friend has been telling everyone your deepest secret. What do you do?
  • Everyone in class got invited to a party but you didn’t get an invitation. What do you do?
  • You were playing a board game and lost your temper because you thought someone was cheating. What do you do?
  • You are in the locker room and your “Friend” keeps picking on you “Jokingly “ in front of everyone. While it’s upsetting you, they apologize. What do you do?
  • You classmate breaks your favorite headphones on accident and wants to apologize. What do you do?

Character education is an important part of every child’s education. Through a variety of classroom activities, students can learn to choose forgiveness rather than revenge. When students choose to forgive, they will not only feel better, but they’ll feel empowered that they made the right choice to just let it go. The earlier that you teach a child to choose forgiveness, the earlier that you can prevent them from going down a path of depression or anxiety.

Do you have any effective classroom activities for teaching forgives to students? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your ideas on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.