Ages: all
Materials for ice cream bar- ice cream, toppings, whip cream in can, cherries, nuts or other crunchy toppings, ice cream scoop, plates and spoons
Materials for empathy training-
-a large oven mitt -a pair of old glasses- any prescription with a small amount of vasoline smeared on the lenses -a pair of sunglasses with a circle of black construction paper taped in the middle on both lenses
Station 1- ice cream with scoop
            -to scoop ice cream kids must put their nondominant hand behind their back and scoop with one hand. (this is to understand how someone with either a stroke or an amputation might have to do things one handed in the world)
Station 2 – sauce toppings in bowls or in containers
            -kids must put on the glasses with vasoline on them to put on toppings. (this is to understand how an elderly person with cataracts might see the world)
Station 3 – whip cream in can
            -kids must put on the oven mitt and use that hand to take off the cap, put whip cream on and replace the cap. (this is to help to understand how someone with poor sensation or poor coordination because of illness or disease might feel trying to do things).
Station 4 – nuts or crunchy toppings and cherries
            -kids must put on glasses with the black construction paper circle in center to put toppings and cherry on sundae. (this is to show how someone with macular degeneration, a common eye issue for the elderly, might see the world.)
Station 5- eating your sundae
            -now that the sundae is made they must eat it with their NONdominant hand!
Discussion- as you are eating your sweet treat ask the kids how it felt to make it and eat it? Most often they will express frustration and how it took so much longer than it should have. Talk to them about how people that have disabilities often have to work harder to do things and it may take them longer. So, when they see someone with a disability to try to remember this and learn to develop a patient and kind attitude toward everyone.

Teaching empathy can be a tricky thing and indeed most of us learn best through experience. I first did this activity with my college occupational therapy as sistant students as a way to help them to understand what it might be like to have a disability. By doing this activity, these young healthy students were able to put themselves in the shoes of their frightened elderly patient’s who were trying to navigate a new world. Experiencing the frustration first hand, as well as learning how to compensate for it, was very eye opening for them.  This activity is a great learning experience for all ages and, best of all, there is a delicious treat to eat at the end!

Empathy Sundae Bar Activity