Is it time for you to teach your students to compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of a character in a story? When learning to compare and contrast, students are learning to find the differences, no matter how big or small, and what is similar. Use these activity ideas to make teaching compare and contrast fun and easy!
What does it mean to compare and contrast? When you compare, you are finding the similarities and when you contrast, you are looking for the differences between two things that are the same in some way.
Introducing The Skill
When teaching compare and contrast to students, I first introduce them to the terminology and then we focus on finding differences. Before venturing into fictional realms, why not warm up those critical thinking muscles with real-world comparisons? Think frogs and toads, cats and dogs, apples and oranges – everyday objects teeming with differences and unexpected similarities.
Activity: Gather pairs of contrasting pictures, like the frog and toad (shown below). Display the two photos. Then, guide students through a “lightning round” where they shout out (or nicely raise their hand) similarities and differences as quickly as they can. Students then complete their independent work where they find differences between the two cat photos provided.
The next day, we focus on finding similarities. As a whole group, we look at the frog and toad and discuss what is similar between the two. Then, students do their independent work by looking at the two pictures of the cats and finding their similarities.
Using Nonfiction To Practice Comparing and Contrasting
While I know the standard is for fiction texts, I prefer to introduce the skill with nonfiction topics. I find introducing this skill with nonfiction texts and about animals helps students compare and contrast the two topics. It helps warm their brain up to get ready to compare and contrast fictional stories.
Teaching Compare And Contrast with Fairy Tales
When we move into fiction stories to compare and contrast, a great place to start is with fairy tales. There are so many different variations of fairy tales. They are alike in some ways, and different in multiple ways as well. They typically have the same characters and somewhat the same plot, but it is changed in a small way.
Teach the Vocabulary For Compare and Contrast
Teach your students the different words they can use when verbalizing what is the same and different. Students should learn that when explaining how they arethe same, they can use words like alike, similar, and both. When explaining how two books are different, they can use words like but, however, and unlike.
Additional Activities To Use When Teaching
Our Compare and Contrast Reading Unit includes 6 reading passages. Students read the 2 short fictional stories and then complete the venn diagram underneath to compare and contrast the 2 stories. These are excellent for teaching compare and contrast with small group or independent work.
There are 3 reading centers included for your students to get additional practice with comparing and contrasting.
Center #1: Students compare 2 illustrations and use provided words to compare and contrast the two.
Center #2: Students look at 2 illustrations of activities and compare and contrast the 2 activities.
Center #3: Students read 2 short fictional stories and use the new vocabulary words to compare and contrast the two.
Additional No Prep Pages
Our reading unit also comes with additional no prep pages for you to use with independent work, small group work, whole group work, centers, etc.
Done For You: Compare and Contrast Reading Unit
Remember, engaging activities are just the tip of the iceberg! Our comprehensive Compare and Contrast Reading Unit provides everything you need to guide your students on this exciting journey. Packed with diverse texts, ready-to-use resources, and engaging activities, it’s your one-stop shop for building critical-thinking champions.