Different ideas for comparing and contrasting in the upper elementary (3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade classroom)

9 Comparing and Contrasting Ideas for the Classroom

Ever get bored of filling out Venn Diagrams? Or are your students struggling with comparing and contrasting and you are looking to try something new? Here are 9 different ways to practice comparing and contrasting with your 3rd grade, 4th grade, or 5th grade class. Only one of them includes a Venn Diagram!
Different ways to compare and contrast in the 3rd grade, 4th grade, or 5th grade classroom

Different Ways to Compare and Contrast

1. Write a Compare and Contrast Essay/Paragraph

An essay can be a daunting task at first, so start your students off small!  Have them start off by writing a sentence or a paragraph that compares and contrasts 2 things before doing a full blown essay.  Providing scaffolding for a compare and contrast essay helps your students be able to do this successfully.

You can read more about scaffolding a compare and contrast essay (and find sentence/paragraph frames for your students to use) here.  

2. Have a Snowball Fight

Some of you have probably had paper snowball fights as a brain break or reward activity in your classroom, but they can also be used for learning!  This is fun way to engage your students during a comparing and contrasting lesson.

Find out more about creating and preparing a compare and contrast snowball fight here.  

3. Do a 4 Corners Activity

If you are looking for a more controlled, less chaotic version of the snowball fight, this is what you want!  It's a fun activity that gets kids moving while comparing and contrasting.

Find specific instructions for the compare and contrast version of 4 corners here. 

4. Use Scaffolded Venn Diagrams

Venn Diagrams are our go to when comparing and contrasting, but sometimes the open ended-ness of blank Venn Diagrams limits higher level thinking.  Use scaffolded Venn Diagrams to teach students how to think more critically when filling out Venn Diagrams.

Find out more about scaffolded Venn Diagrams - and get a FREE compare and contrast printable activity - here. 

5. Use Tables or Charts

We tend to lean on Venn Diagrams when teaching comparing and contrasting, but students will encounter tables and charts much more often in the real world.  Teaching students how to create tables designed to compare and contrast requires high level thinking and will help them be able to read and interpret tables much more easily.

Find more ideas for using tables and charts to compare and contrast here.  

6. Have Students Complete a Ranking Activity.

When we rank or put things in a specific order based on certain qualifications, we are really comparing and contrasting.  This type of ranking activity can be integrated into your classroom activities very easily with no prep.  For example, you can easily ask your students to write down the last 5 books you have read as a class in order from their favorite to their least favorite.  Then, have students explain their reasoning.  They will automatically be comparing and contrasting the books they have read in their head.

You can find ideas on how to use ranking in your reading, science and social studies lessons here. 

7. Have Students Create Visuals

In our increasingly visual society, the ability to communicate information using visuals will become increasingly important.  Giving students opportunities now to experiment with this will benefit them in the long run.

Find ideas and tools to help students create compare and contrast visuals here.  

8. Use "Would You Rather" Questions

"Would You Rather" questions force students to choose between 2 options (and they automatically compare and contrast while thinking about their two choices). By creating thoughtful questions and asking students to defend their answers, your students will compare and contrast without even realizing it!

You can find some "Would You Rather" questions that you can use with fiction and nonfiction texts, - as well as some other ideas for integrating these questions into your classroom - here.

9. Fill in Graphic Organizers

Once again, our go to graphic organizer for comparing and contrasting is the Venn Diagram.  However, a quick search on google or Pinterest will provide a variety of comparing and contrasting graphic organizers to choose from!

The Teaching Made Practical Membership Area has some no prep printables and activities for teaching comparing and contrasting.  Teachers that have joined the membership have access to all of the resources, but anybody can download the freebies! Look for the red Free next to the name of the resource.

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