Comparing and contrasting is an important cross-curricular skill that all students need to master. In order for your students to nail down this skill, you will need to provide a variety of opportunities for application. Today, I am going to talk about 5 compare and contrast activities that are both fun and effective!
Get Students Comfortable with the Venn Diagram
Firstly, we can’t talk about compare and contrast activities without talking about the trusty Venn Diagram! When introducing this skill, start with well-known topics or items. For example, create a Venn Diagram anchor chart (laminate this and use dry or wet-erase markers for reusability). Have your students practice comparing and contrasting with two teachers, popular pets, movies or games, etc. Then, when they have some experience with it, you can move forward with comparing and contrasting stories and texts!
Use Hula Hoops on the Carpet
Similarly, you can create a hands-on way to compare and contrast with hula hoops! Grab some hula hoops and sticky notes or note cards. Overlap the hula hoops to create a physical Venn diagram. As a whole group activity, bring up a single topic or text. Facilitate a discussion where students list important elements or parts of the topic or text. For example, if you’re describing a book like Little Red Riding Hood, students may list things like: a young girl is going to visit her grandmother, the setting is a house in the woods, a wolf tries to trick the young girl, etc. Then, do the same thing for the second topic or text. Have students arrange the notecards/sticky notes into the three open spaces. They will notice that if there are two cards that are similar (one from each story or topic) that those are shared traits. So, they belong in the middle section. This compare and contrast activity is so much fun for students. Plus, it allows the physical separation and joining of elements that reinforce the skill!
After this activity has been done a few times as a whole or small group, students can begin to do this one on their own. Have them record important things about stories they read. They can keep their sticky notes or notecards in a folder or clipped to the book. When they read another book, they will have the chance to compare the two sets of descriptors.
Start Practicing Comparing with Fractured Fairy Tales
Coincidentally, if you’re looking for great ways to practice comparing and contrasting with texts, consider using fractured fairy tales. Fractured fairy tales are a great starting place for comparing texts. Because students typically know the original story, they are able to notice key differences in the story elements. If students know the story of “the three little pigs” they will see how “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” has similarities and differences. The activity shown in the picture above is from the RL.1.9 Comparing Fiction Stories unit.
Here’s a suggested list of Amazon affiliate links to great fractured fairy tale books:
- Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim and Goldilocks and the Three Bears by James Marshall
- Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Little Red Riding Hood by Candace Ransom
- La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya and The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen
- Reading Beauty by Deborah Underwood and Sleeping Beauty by Michael Teitelbaum
Let Pictures Tell the Story
Another way to practice comparing and contrasting with stories is to use pictures! For this activity, you will want to read one version of a story aloud. Then, use just the pictures from another book to “picture retell” another story. *Be sure to use a story that has illustrations with lots of detail to pull from. Have students look for similarities and differences in the two stories! In the activity above, students will be comparing the pictures from a Little Red Hen retelling and the common Little Red Hen story. It can be found in the RL.2.9 complete unit!
Choral Read and Compare a FREE Set of Books Together
Here is a free compare and contrast activity for you! This activity has two printable books and accompanying compare and contrast graphic organizers. You can choral read each story and complete a story elements graphic organizer. Then, compare and contrast the two stories’ elements using the Venn Diagram. Click the button to sign up for my email list and get this activity sent directly to your inbox!
Want Ready-Made Lessons and Activities for Compare & Contrast?
If you’re looking for complete Compare and Contrast units, I have those, too! Each unit comes with everything you need to teach RL.9: Lesson plans, graphic organizers, comprehension passages, assessments, and more!
Click your grade level to get a closer look: