Library Lessons–Teaching Compare & Contrast and Venn Diagrams

I am in a REALLY amazing position at my library, where I get to teach a quick lesson before doing a monthly storytime for my village’s 1st and 2nd graders.

Today I wanted to share my lesson on comparing and contrasting. Being able to compare and contrast is a very important skill. It’s the first step towards critical thinking, since we have to really engage with two things to find similarities and differences. It also helps with decision making later on–if we have two choices, we need to figure out which one is better by breaking them down and comparing the two.

This lesson hits CCSS RL. 1.5 “Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.” and CCSS RL. 1.9 “Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.”

So I always like to start out my lessons with a question—something that’s related to what we are talking about and naturally starts the conversation about what we are going to learn.  My question to start this lesson is:

What is the difference between these two pictures?

I then showed my kiddos these two pictures.  It was pretty easy to draw, I just drew the basic outline that I knew would be constant, scanned it, then made the changes between the two in Publisher. 

I then had my kiddos discuss how the pictures were different, and they could raise their hand and point out one thing wrong with the picture.  Once they got all the differences, I talked about how we found the similarities and differences between the two.  From there, we can jump into comparing and contrasting. 

From here I go over what a Venn Diagram is, the different parts of it and how we can use it to compare and contrast. To help fill out our Venn Diagram, I ask my kiddos to come up with similarities and differences between cats and dogs, similarities first then differences. In the end, it looks a little like this:

That last point is a great way to show off your pet if you have one and take a break from learning for a bit. Anyway, while fielding comments, I try to remind my kids that these are just generalizations, so most cats but not ALL cats can climb trees.

From there, we get into our storytime for the day which is “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs” by Mo Willems. Amazing story. BUT I tell my kids to pay attention because at the end, we are going to compare and contrast this story from the traditional one most people know. In the end, the diagram looks like this:

That’s it! Takes about 25 minutes from top to bottom. Always fun to teach this one. Here’s a breakdown of my lesson plan if you needed it:

(<5 mintues) Introduction/Greeting/Open Presentation

(5 minutes) “Spot the Differences” Game

(10 minutes) Slideshow on Venn Diagrams/Talking about Cats vs. Dogs

(10 minutes) Reading “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs” by Mo Willems

(5 minutes) Comparing and Contrasting Willems version to traditional version

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