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Compare and Contrast Lesson Ideas and Freebie

How do you teach a “compare and contrast” lesson? What activities do you do to teach your students this important reading skill? In today’s post, I am going to share some ideas to teach a “compare and contrast” lesson.

Check out this blog post if you like some differentiated compare-and-contrast worksheets.

Click here or the picture below to get some free “compare and contrast” lesson slides that will be mentioned below.

Compare and Contrast Pictures

If it’s your first time teaching this reading skill in your class, you may want to start with the definitions of “compare” and “contrast.” Make sure your students know that “compare” means finding the similarities between two things, while “contrast” means identifying their differences.

compare and contrast lesson - definitions
Introducing “compare” and “contrast”
compare and contrast lesson - venn diagram and keywords
Venn Diagram and keywords

However, sometimes questions only use “compare” but expect you to find both similarities and differences. Therefore, I always encourage my students to talk about both if they can.

In addition, I noticed that introducing the keywords people use to compare and contrast is actually very helpful, especially when students have to identify similarities and differences in texts.

Next, you can show students how to compare and contrast with any objects in the classroom. You may select two student volunteers and tell them to stand in front of the class. Then guide your class to find similarities and differences between the two volunteers.

However, the classroom is only one setting with limited things. Therefore, you may want to use some pictures to provide your students with more practice. For example,

compare and contrast lesson - pictures
Apple vs. Orange
compare and contrast lesson - venn diagram with pictures
Apple vs. Orange & Venn Diagram

On the other hand, the Venn Diagram can help students organize information effectively and clearly. So I always include that as scaffolding.

Since pictures are only about moments, make sure the pictures you pick show things that are closely related to students’ life. Otherwise, your students may not have enough background knowledge to talk about the similarities or differences.

Compare and Contrast Related Topics

Once your students get familiar with the process of comparing and contrasting, you may introduce some texts that talk about two related topics, such as the one below:

compare and contrast lesson - reading comprehension
Burgers vs. Sandwiches

This slide shows one text about burgers and sandwiches. It also asks students to annotate the text by underlining the similarities in green and differences in red. Annotating the text is an extremely important step in the close reading process and it can effectively improve reading comprehension.

I prepared three activities to go with this text as part of my differentiated instruction.

For Students Who Need Extra Support

These students can work on the drag-and-drop activity as the one below. To be specific, I provide them with statements from the text and a labeled Venn Diagram. When students work on this activity, they are supposed to read each box’s statement and drag the box to the right place in the Venn Diagram.

This way, students can practice the compare-and-contrast activity even when they don’t fully comprehend the text.

compare and contrast lesson - drag and drop activity
Burgers vs. Sandwiches drag and drop activity

For Students Who Need Some Challenge

This group of students won’t need the support of either the statements or the Venn Diagram. Therefore, they can go ahead and work on short-response questions like the ones below. Meanwhile, they can practice their writing skill.

compare and contrast lesson - short-response activity
Burgers vs. Sandwiches short-response questions

For Students Who Need Some Support

These students can work on some multiple-choice questions before they move on to the short-response questions (see above). Students can eliminate answers to find the best choice. Besides, I also like to ask my students to write or say why the choices they don’t pick are wrong.

compare and contrast lesson - multiple-choice activity
Burgers vs. Sandwiches multiple-choice questions

Compare and Contrast Writing

We all know that reading and writing are integrated. Therefore, after different kinds of reading practices, I want my students to write about similarities and differences between two topics.

Specifically, I give sentence frames or paragraph structures like the one below as scaffolding for my ELLs and Special eds. While the rest of the students can write a paragraph by themselves.

compare and contrast lesson - writing with sentence frames
Running vs. Swimming
compare and contrast lesson - writing
Summer vs. Winter

To Sum Up

I shared some “compare and contrast” lesson ideas above. If you find them helpful, you may create materials to use with your students. Or you can get the freebie below to save some planning time.

Click here to get some “compare and contrast” lesson slides.

Besides, if you like the ideas and activities, you may check out these related products from my store by clicking the pictures below.

37 Ready-to-teach PPT/Google slides
60 Differentiated Worksheets
PPT Slides & Worksheets Bundle (to save)
30 Differentiated Task Cards

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Happy teaching, 


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