Today’s blog is all about comparing and contrasting fiction texts! This skill is key for students as it allows them to think critically about the similarities and differences in stories. In Kindergarten, students begin by identifying basic similarities and differences with simple compare and contrast activities. Each year, this skill is built upon as they compare and contrast different versions of stories, themes, story features, and genres of text as they enter into 4th grade. This vital skill will help students make connections in the text and further their reading skills.
Standards for Compare and Contrast Fiction:
- Kindergarten: With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
- 1st Grade: Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories
- 2nd Grade: Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.
- 3rd Grade: Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series).
- 4th Grade: Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.
How to Introduce Compare and Contrast
Using a simple compare and contrast activity, such as a Venn Diagram anchor chart, is a great way to introduce this skill. Students will begin training their brain to think in this way. By comparing and contrasting two versions of a familiar story on a Venn Diagram, they will be able to grasp this concept and visualize the similarities and differences. This activity will prepare them for future compare and contrast activities and discussions.
Once the students are confident with comparing and contrasting in a whole group, they can be given an activity such as this comparing 2 things activity. They may draw a card and complete their own Venn Diagram by drawing a picture and labeling the items. This is great practice for them, allows the teacher to see their level of understanding, and gives the teacher an opportunity to give feedback and praise.
Model with Read Alouds
Here are a few texts that I would suggest for read alouds. The first set of books is comparing two similar stories. The second set of books is comparing two books by the same author! These can be read aloud once a day at the beginning of your mini lesson time or these can be provided for students during one of the work stations so they can explore two texts on the same topic. The eight links below are affiliate links to Amazon.
- Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten by Trisha Shashkan and Little Red Riding Hood by Paragon Books
- The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Schwartz and The Three Little Pigs by Patricia Seibert
- The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone and The Little Red Elf by Barbara McGrath
- Cinderella by Sarah L. Thompson and The Rough Faced Girl by Rafe Martin
- Jumaji and Zarthura by Chris Van Allsburg
- Fish is Fish and Swimmy by Leo Lionni
- The Hat and The Mitten by Jan Brett
- Wemberly Worried and Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
Start with Familiar Stories
The best way to start comparing and contrasting fiction texts is by using stories that the students are familiar with. Chances are, they have a good understanding of the story and will quickly pick up on the similarities and differences in two versions. This could even be made into a game for them to see who can spot the differences first! Again, using an anchor chart to organize thoughts is a great model for the students. This 3-column chart is a simple, yet effective way to organize information.
Slowly Increase What They’re Comparing
Building on prior knowledge is key, especially in the younger grades. Once the students have mastered comparing and contrasting familiar stories, it is time to add elements. Using fractured fairy tales to compare and contrast two versions of the same story is effective and fun for students. This helps them pick out plot twists and changes in the characters, setting, and language. Again, using fairy tales they are familiar with is an effective way to slowly increase the difficulty. This can be done whole group, in partners, or individually.
Utilize Fractured Fairy Tales
Fractured fairy tales are perfect for compare and contrast activities. Students can sort information in this activity by referencing the text and graphic features. This encourages them to look for text clues as well, since the stories are based on the same fairy tale. Utilizing fractured fairy tales during your compare and contrast study encourages critical thinking skills.
Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to comparing and contrasting fiction texts, the more activities in different shapes and sizes, the better. Incorporating whole group, small group, partner time, and individual work is key. The more opportunities the students have to work on these skills, the more successful they will be. Having a good variety of stories to choose from is also key. Letting the students choose is powerful, as they feel in control of their own learning. This will make practicing and reading fun for them. Asking compare and contrast questions in many ways is essential for building student understanding. This literacy skill is complex, so be sure to continue to spiral review and add pieces slowly. This will ensure the students truly master the skill before moving on.
The graphic organizers, sorting activities, and independent reading and writing activities will help the students build their skills and communicate the information they are organizing. Graphic organizers are helpful in tracking partner and independent reading. The students can use these tools to organize information. Furthermore, you as the teacher can see what they are grasping.
Looking for Compare and Contrast Activities?
Check out these full units, complete with lesson plans, graphic organizers, Lexile passages, task cards, assessments, and more.
Thanks for reading!
Looking for more ELA and reading tips?
- Comparing Fictional Stories
- Comparing Texts Using Paired Passages
- Primary Mentor Texts for Common Core Literature Standards
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