Learning how to compare and contrast are higher-order thinking skills and an important component of reading comprehension. They are also a great way for students to practice language skills and build academic language. When students compare they look for things that are the same. When they contrast they look for items that are different. Here are some activities to introduce comparing and contrasting to students.
Comparing and Contrasting with Pictures
Show students two sets of pictures. Have them compare and contrast the pictures, telling what is the same and what is different. You can integrate content into this activity by finding pictures of topics students are learning about. For example, if they are studying the butterfly life cycle show a picture of a caterpillar in on a tree and a butterfly in the sky. As students talk about the pictures they are practicing vocabulary as well.
Spot the Difference Pictures
A fun activity is to show students two very similar pictures and have them search for what is different between the pictures. You can give students additional support with vocabulary by labeling words from one picture, creating sentences about what they see, and then having them talk about what is different between the two pictures.
Comparing and Contrasting with Stories
Picture books are great ways to practice listening comprehension along with comparing and contrasting. After reading two books on similar topics students can discuss what is the same and different in the stories.
Sentence frames are a helpful way to scaffold this for ELLs.
_______ and _______ are in both stories.
__________ is the same in both stores because _________.
__________ is different in both stores because _________.
The setting is the same in both stores because _________.
The setting is different in both stories because ___________.
For students with lower language levels pictures are again a good way to help them compare and contrast the two stories. Choose a picture from each story and have those pages open while the student compares and contrasts. This allows them to point to pictures if they do not know the vocabulary word.
Comparing and Contrasting with Task Cards
I have ready-made sets of premade task cards that have pictures for students to compare and contrast. These can be used for speaking practice in a small group, with partners. Students can write about them individually. Check out a free set to try them out.
Pickles to Penguins is a fun card game where students make connections between different objects.