In life, we compare and contrast on a daily basis. For instance, the pizza at Restaurant A has better crust. The pizza at Restaurant B has better toppings. Both have good sauce. Likewise, when we make purchases, we often utilize a compare and contrast system to make a decision. With the addition of common core standards, students need to be able to recognize the use of comparison in a literary work. In addition, they have to use this technique when comparing and contrasting different genres and also identifying similarities and differences in a text. Indeed, teaching compare and contrast is important. Here are some fun compare and contrast activities for kids to use in class or at home.
“Fishing” for the Right Word
Before doing any compare and contrast writing, it’s important for kids to be able to know about key words that signal compare (similarities) and contrast (differences). To do this activity, first draw an ocean scene and make a venn diagram over the top of it. Next, write compare and contrast key words on fishes (laminate the fishes for future use) with tape on the back. If students have a word that signals a comparison or similarity, it should go in the overlapping portion (the center) of the venn diagram. If they have a word that signals contrast or a difference, they should put it in the outer circles on the venn diagram. Kids can take turns putting their fish on the appropriate area on the Venn diagram.
Words that signal comparison: like, same, in common, both, similar, alike, also, as well as, similarly, likewise, share
Words that signal contrast: different, unlike, but, on the other hand, differ, instead, in contrast, yet, however
What’s the Same? What’s Different?
To introduce the concept of compare and contrast, you can show students some colorful, and perhaps funny, pictures that contain both similarities and differences. For instance, show a picture of a bird in two different settings; one could be urban and the other rural. Kids should notice that there is a bird in both pictures but buildings in one picture and open space in another. Another idea is to show a picture of ice cream. One could have two scoops and the other could have three. The students should note both pictures contain ice cream and a cone but perhaps have different flavors and different amounts.
This activity supports Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.9.
Read, Listen and Watch
Have students read a book at their independent level. Then, have them watch a video or listen to an audio version of the text. Finally, they should write a compare and contrast essay on the similarities and differences between the two literary forms. Some books/audio books/movies to consider are Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
This lesson supports CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.7.
A Recipe for Learning
For this lesson, students should pick a fruit that they love or want to learn more about. Next, give students two passages, magazine articles or short books about the fruit. Students should use a venn diagram to help them compare and contrast important ideas and details from the texts. At the end of the lesson, you can give students their favorite fruit to enjoy or a recipe containing the fruit (if you’re doing this activity at home, you can make the recipe).
This lesson supports: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.9.
Teaching compare and contrast can be fun for kids (and their teachers).
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