Comparing the Adventures of Two Characters

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SWBAT use a T-chart to compare and contrast the adventures of the characters Minerva Louise and Hilda Hen, and use their T-chart to write a comparison narrative.

Big Idea

Your students will delve deeper into the characters personalities after looking at the setting and events to determine the qualities of the characters.


Common Core Connection:

Being able to compare and contrast is essential to student reading comprehension, as well as to building a familiarity with various text structure and elements. To introduce my students to this comprehension skill I focused on RL.1.9:  compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.  I felt in this lesson that it important to also look how the setting and events of the story helped define the characters. 

Lesson Overview:

After reflecting on yesterday’s lesson, I realized that I did not delve as deep into the characters Minerva Louise and Hilda Hen.  In today’s lesson I introduced my students to the T-chart and used questions to help my students further understand who these two chickens were.



  • 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 Houghton Mifflin, try: Olivia, by Ian Falconer 
    • Eloise, by Kay Thompson
  • Lined Newsprint
  •  Modeled Venn Diagram from previous lesson


5 minutes

I began this lesson by displaying the Modeled Venn Diagram we created yesterday on the Promethean board.  I had my students again look at what they we wrote about Minerva and Hilda, and pointed out that everything they put on it was correct, re-stating, Minerva was a white hen who went to school, while Hilda was a brown hen who was afraid of the dark.  However, today I wanted my students to go past the basics.  To do this, I told my little ones, we would look at not just the hens, but the setting and events of each story to discover who these hens really are.

I then had my little ones stand up and stretch, before walking to their desks like a chicken. Adding movement to transitions gives students an opportunity to stretch and to explore movement (Demonstration: Movement).

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Once seated at their desks, I told my students to help us discover something that was special about each chicken we would use a ‘T-chart’, explaining a T-chart was another tool to make comparisons with.  I then passed out lined news print and instructed my students to fold in half, ‘like a hamburger’.  Once all my students finished this, I displayed my ‘lined writing’ flip-chart, that looks similar to lined newsprint.  Telling my students this would be my T-chart.  I then instructed, and modeled for them, how to make a line down the fold in the middle of their paper, and cross it on the top, making sure to leave writing space on the top.  I continued by writing Minerva on the left side and Hilda on the right, instructing my students they were to write what made each chicken special under her name.  

Whole Group Activity

20 minutes

To help my students find the special characteristics of each hen, I re-read Minerva Louise reminding my students that she was comparing what she saw in the classroom to what it reminded her of in her barn.  As I read I stopped after each page and asked my students what special thing about her, or what she was doing, should we add to the T-chart (Modeled T-Chart).  As I wrote their suggestions on the Promethean board, my students wrote the same thing on their papers (Student T-Chart).  When I finished reading the story, we took a moment to look at our list of words written under ‘Minerva’.  As we read the list together, I had my students underline or circle words that told made Minerva special.  These words included: went for a walk, thought school was a fancy barn, and made her nest fancy.  To get my students thinking about what these words meant for Minerva I asked several questions and gave my students time to think about and partner share before asking for answers.  These questions included:

  • If Minerva went for a walk by herself what is she?
  • What type of person, or chicken, thinks things are fancy?
  • If Minerva used ideas she saw at the school to make her next fancy, what type of chicken was she?

After partner sharing and a few more questions for clarification, my students decided that Minerva was special because she was smart, adventurous, and creative.  I had them write these words on the bottom of their T-charts.

After having my students stand up and stretch, I then re-read Hilda Hen, using the same format as I did for Minerva.  To help my students discover the special traits Hilda had I asked the following questions:

  • Both chickens went for a walk, what was different about Hilda’s?
  • What did Hilda do when she saw something that scared her?
  • What type of person, or chicken, would be able to do the things Hilda did?

After thinking about these questions my students decided Hilda was special because she was smart, brave, and proud.

At this point I explained that although Minerva and Hilda were hens, what really made them special was not so much what they looked like, but what they did.  I then asked my students:  How did looking at the setting and events help to better understand what type of chicken Minerva and Hilda were?  After a moment to think and partner share the possible answers with their table partners, I used the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to select students to answer this question.  The answer that my students provided included: ‘the chickens did not do the same things, so they were different’, and my favorite, ‘one chicken wanted to go for the walk, the other had to go for the walk’.   

With that it was time to move into the independent part of the lesson.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

During this time my students are in their leveled reading groups and rotate every 15 to 20 minutes through different activities.  One activity I always include is journal writing because it gives students an opportunity to understand and apply what they have learned or practiced during the guided practice part of the lesson.

Today I told my students that they were going to use the ideas that were on their T-charts to write a comparison and contrast paper about how Minerva Louise and Hilda Hen were alike and different. 

The writing prompt I wrote on the Promethean board: Minerva Louise and Hilda Hen were alike because __________.  They were different because ___________.  

I checked (Journal Writing) each journal as my students rotated to my differentiated reading group.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To earn a sticker my students worked in pairs to tell me how looking at the setting and events helped them to better understand the difference between Minerva and Hilda.