Same or Different?

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Students will be able to compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.

Big Idea

Students compare and contrast a childhood favorite.


20 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

The students then clear their space and walk to take a seat on their assigned spot on the rug.

I sit at the front of the rug area ready with the book needed for the lesson - The Three Little Javelinas, by Susan Lowell and illustrated by Jim Harris

First I ask the students to raise their hand if they have ever heard of the story The Three Little Pigs. Most of the students have usually heard of this story.

“Okay good. Hands down. Now raise your hand if you think you can summarize the story for me. Remember from our lesson with the story The Seven Chinese Sisters that a summary is a brief or short version of the story.”

I can usually rely on one or two students to be able to summarize the story for me. I often find that while a student is summarizing the story, other students will jump in either reinforcing or contradicting what the student is saying. We will stop and discuss what is being reinforced or contradicted. For example, a student may say that the first little pig made their house out of hay or grass and another student will jump in say, “No it was straw.”

Through this discussion student prior knowledge is accessed and those who have not heard the story are introduced to it through their peers.

Once our discussion is over I hold up the book to show the students.

“Well this story is called The Three Little Javelinas. It is written by Susan Lowe and illustrated by Jim Harris. Using the picture clue on the cover, can anyone tell me what they think a Javelina is?” Many of the students will tell you it looks like a pig. “You are right. A Javelina is a type of pig (Pre-read the description inside the book to give the correct description to the students)."

I explain to the students that this book is very similar to the story they just summarized for me. “Can anyone tell me the meaning of the word similar?” Some students may be able to give you the definition of the word, but many will not be able to. “Well the word similar means it is a little bit alike. For example, my glasses are a lot like Shelby’s. They both have rectangle eye frames and both have pink on the inside of the ear pieces. But Shelby’s glasses have pink on the outside of the ear pieces and mine have purple. So our glasses are similar, but they are not the same.”

The story you about to hear is similar to Three Little Pigs. I need you to be very good listeners and observers to see if you can spot the places where the stories are the same and the places where they are different.”      

I begin to read the story to the students. 


30 minutes

Whilst reading the book I ask the students questions about some of the details throughout the book. For example, “I recall you telling me that the first little pig built its house out of straw, but here the little Javelina is building its house out of what?” Once someone has answered I ask, “Is that the same?” I do this several times throughout the book.  


At the end of the story I have my SMARTBoard ready for use. I have the screen already divided into two sections and labeled – same and different. I tell the students that we are going to compare and contrast the story together.

I ask the students to raise their hand if they can tell me something that is the same about the two stories. I use the fair sticks to take several answers and note the responses on the SMARTBoard for all of the students to see.

Next I ask the students to raise their hand and tell me something that is different about the two stories. Once again I use the fair sticks to take several responses and note them on the SMARTBoard.

Compare and contrast on the SMARTBoard


Now I tell the students they will be making a comparison chart of their own. I show the students a blank version of the Compare Contrast paper they will find at their work station. I tell the students that they will need to record one thing that is the same about the two stories and one thing that is different.   

Before beginning the activity remember to have the supplies ready at the tables to cut down on loss of instruction time. You will need to have a copy of the comparison chart (one for each student), pencils, crayons and a copy of both The Three Little Pigs and The Three Little Javelinas available for students to reference.

Before having the students go to the work area I remind the students to use their resources such as the SMARTBoard and the story book itself if they need help recalling some similarities or differences. I also like to remind the students to take pride in their work by drawing carefully so other people can understand their work. Now I send the students back to their seats a few at a time to maintain a safe environment in my classroom.

"Table number one go have some compare/contrast fun. 

Table number two you know what to do. 

Table number three I hope you were listening to me. 

Table number four shouldn't be here anymore."

Allow the students about 15-20 minutes to complete the task.  


Why compare and contrast?

Comparing and Contrasting


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin. 

Student compare contrast example - high student example. Clearly explained characters and neatly drawn.

Student compare contrast example - middle student sample. Used book as a resource. 

Student compare contrast example - middle student sample. Used book as a resource. 

Student compare contrast example - low student sample. Teacher assisted. 


Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students that their “exit slip” to get their snack is to tell me either a comparison or a contrast between the two versions of the story. 

"Room 203, your exit ticket for today is to tell me either one thing that is the same or one thing that is different about the two stories. Once you have given me your answer you will be able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get your snack."

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

If a student has difficulty responding to the question they can do one of two things:

  1. Call on a friend to help, or
  2. Wait until everyone has gone and we will work on a response together. 

Using this exit ticket process allows me to see who is able to accurately compare and contrast the story with a simple answer. If the student has difficulty responding I will need to look closely at his/her work to determine if he/she was not able to transfer the skill from one activity to another, if he/she was copying another students work, or if he/she needs more practice at the task. I would do this in a small group setting such as reading work stations. 


5 minutes

Call the each student over during a time which fits into your classroom schedule. I call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

During the day I will read another version of The Three Little Pigs, perhaps The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.

I will ask the student to give me one comparison and one contrast between the original story and the version they just heard. I will note what the student responds with on the Compare and Contrast assessment sheet.  

I will attach the following Compare and Contrast The Three Little Pigs checklist to the student work so the student and their family can see how the student work is progressing. 


Work on the short /i/ sound as in the word “pig.”


Work on the –ig word family words. Big, dig, fig, jig, rig, wig, twig, swig, brig, etc.


Find pictures that have the same beginning sound as the word pig and glue onto the shape of a pig.  You could differentiate this activity by having other students work on words with the same medial sound, or the same ending sound.


Have the students match different styles of homes to the correct environment. For example, a grass hut to the plains or savannah, an igloo to the Arctic, a house boat to water, an apartment to the city, etc.