Stressed dogs, cats, & us


Why are we talking about empathy and middle schoolers? Well, right now, where is a more stressful place to be: A) In a falling elevator with hyper dogs and stressed cats OR b) At home, ALL THE TIME,  with adults and middle schoolers living on top of each other? (Be honest – being in that fur-covered elevator doesn’t seem so bad right now.)

STRESS IS DEFINITELY HIGH for a lot of us! So how do we avoid acting like cats and dogs trapped in an elevator and help each other through this stress? Today, we invite you to adventure into empathy because understanding how others are feeling may save your life (or…at least help you avoid a few family squabbles this week). Check out these games, resources, and videos to help your family build empathy and keep the fur from flying.

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Adventure on! ~ Amy | TomTod Ideas

The BIG Question of the Day:

Why do we need empathy? How could you help others have more empathy right now?

Moments of Joy 

Dogs and Cats living together!

Image via Canva


Need a dose of inspiration?





For Families 

Don’t let this happen to you while your family is playing games. Here are some quick ideas to employ empathy as a family.

Watch + Learn: The power of empathy: Helen Riess at TEDxMiddlebury (watch from start to 1:46 for a snapshot of empathy; the whole video is 17:02)

Family Adventure-tivity: If getting deep about empathy with your middle schooler seems as likely as them deep cleaning the rug for fun, try these 5 Tips for Cultivating Empathy. Our favorite empathy cultivating tool is to zoom in and out in your conversations. Zoom in and share how you are feeling to model your emotions. Then zoom out to how others might be feeling right now. Without even saying the word empathy, you and your kids will start practicing it! (Sorry – the rug still won’t be clean.)

Play A Get-To-Know-You Game as a family! Was your grandma featured in the local newspaper for doing 57 backflips in a row? Did your dad head to Canada to pick up his favorite maple syrup? Find out together and compare your score to the TomTod staff! Share your family’s score with us on Facebook, Instagram, or at

For Students 

Learning about empathy by helping Milo The Dog!

Design Challenge:  Can you have empathy for a dog? Can you use your time and powers for good? Milo the dog needs your help! Can you think of an idea to help him out? Use Google Drawings to design your idea and share it with us on Facebook.

Explore More: Empathy is a super-power. It can limit family squabbles, relieve stress, and make you happier. Soooo… What is empathy? (2:53) Watch & reflect or, better yet, share or host a virtual viewing party on YouTube and talk about it with a friend!



For Educators  

Online Learning Toolkit: Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) – Let’s get back to creativity and collaboration! A SOLE is easy to plan, educationally rigorous, and works with every subject. This is a powerful and simple way to add project-based learning to your online classroom. Empower your students to learn, collaborate, and think critically. Here’s how:  TomTod’s guide to online SOLE


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