Comparing Character Similarities and Differences

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SWBAT observe the similarities and differences between two comparable story characters and gain practice using a Venn diagram.

Big Idea

Your students will go beyond looking at feathers when they start using the Venn diagram in this lesson.


Common Core Connection:

The first time I saw the Common Core standards I was intrigued by the anchor standards.  As a First Grade teacher I thought them to be formable adversaries that deserved respect.  CCRA.R.9: analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take, caught my eye, and I thought: how do I even begin to teach this to First graders.  Calculating the number of years until I retired, I turned the page and saw the corresponding grade level standard.  All thoughts of retirement dissipated as I read RL.1.9:  compare and contrast the adventures and experience of characters in stories.  I was re-charged and ready to put this standard into practice during the next three lessons.

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson I introduced my students to using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast two characters.


  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 2: Here We Go, Minerva Louise at School, by Janet Morgan Stoeke
  • Houghton Mifflin Reading Theme 3: Let’s Look Around, Hilda Hen’s Scary Night, by Mary Wormell
    • If you do not use HM, try Cindy Moo, by Lori Morlensen, and Mrs. Mooley, by Jack Kent
  • Venn Diagram (Houghton Mifflin)


5 minutes

During the review week between my district’s adopted ELA reading series themes, I like to use this lesson to delve deeper into the characters of Minerva Louise and Hilda Hen, two characters from our previous weekly read a-louds.  I begin by showing my students the front covers of both stories and ask them what they can tell me about the main characters.  The answer of course is the stories are both about chickens.  I then tell them we are going to look a little closer at Minerva Louise and Hilda Hen and compare and contrast them, explaining compare means what is the same, and contrast means what is different.  I also point out that we use compare and contrast in science and math too.


Guided Practice

20 minutes

At this point I re-read both stories to my students instructing them to listen and look for things that are the same about each chicken in both stories, as well as things that are different.  After reading each story I have my students think and partner share about what happened during the beginning, middle, and end of the story.  Using the magic cup I call on student pairs to share the events of each part of the story. 

When we have finished reviewing both stories, I remind my students that this week we will be practicing looking for things about each chicken that are the same and things that are different.

At this point I have my students stand up and take a stretch.  As we transition into the whole group activity, I have my students imitate a chicken as they walk to their desks.

Whole Group Activity

15 minutes

I then introduce the Venn diagram explaining the left side will be for Minerva Louise, the right side will be for Hilda Hen, and the middle will be for both.  Because this my student’s first experience with a Venn diagram, we fill it out together in a whole group.  First I have my students think about what is the same about Minerva and Hilda, showing them that all things that are the same goes in the middle.  Then we look at the left side where I have written “Minerva Louise” and list everything about her.  On the right side we do the same for Hilda Hen.  At this point I accept all student answers and show them where to put them on the diagram. 

When my students had exhausted all their thoughts and comments, I had them take a moment to observe the displayed Venn on the Promethean board, and pointed out how using it made it easier to see and understand how the two chickens were alike in a lot of ways, but different in others.  I also reminded my students that we use compare and contrast not just in reading but in math and science as well.

At this point I have my students go into their guided reading block for independent work.

Independent Practice

10 minutes

During this time my students are in their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through different independent activities and work areas.  I always include journal writing as a way no only to practice letter formation, but to gain understanding of the lesson.  The prompt I put on the Promethean board for my students to write to: In your own words explain what ‘compare’ and ‘contrast’ mean.

When my students come to my reading group I check each journal.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

For a sticker my students formed groups of three and each group told me three activities compare and contrast is used.