What do we Have in Common?

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Students will be able to compare and contrast two lifestyles based on information they have read.

Big Idea

Understanding our commonalities with other nations helps lead towards acceptance.


15 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.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I place the globe in front of them and tell them to pack their suitcases because we are going to climb aboard our imaginary plane to head off to the frozen far north.

“Today we are going to climb aboard a plane and journey north to visit our friends the Inuit people. The Inuit live in northern Canada and in Alaska (which is in the United States of America), also in Greenland (which we know is also white), and in the North Eastern tip of Siberia (which belongs to Russia).” I point to all of these places on the globe as I mention them.

“The Inuit people living closest to us are here in the far Northern reaches of Canada. So we are going to pack our suitcases and fly straight up towards the North Pole. Here we go.”

I take my push pin and start out in MD on our globe and “fly” it north until I come to Arctic Bay which is relatively central to the Inuit region in Northern Canada. Once I have pushed it into the globe I show the students where it is and explain that the Inuit live all around this particular area.

“We are going to land in Arctic Bay, but the Inuit live all around this area.”

“Who can tell me what season it is here in Maryland right now?”

I use the Fair Sticks to select a student to respond to the question.

“That’s right Justin; it is winter. Here is a tricky question, what season do you think it is in Arctic Bay?”

I select another fair stick for a different student to respond to the question.

“Well done Carson; it is winter. How did you know that?”

“Fantastic. Arctic Bay is in the Northern Hemisphere like us and so they have the same season as we do. But when I think about we have learned about the Arctic so far, do I think the winter will be colder or warmer than ours?”

“Yes Sara it is colder. What makes the winter here colder than our own?”

“Your right Brennan; it is much closer to the North Pole than we are. In fact let’s take a look at that.”

I show the students the distance between Maryland and the North Pole using a piece of string I have handy. Then using the same piece of string I show the distance between Arctic Bay and the North Pole.

“I definitely used a lot less of our piece of string the second time, so we know for sure the Inuit live closer to the North Pole than we do.”

“We are now going to read a book about the Inuit to help us understand what life must be like up in the frozen North.”  


Children are born into social studies. First they learn about themselves, then their family unit and then their community. Through our Around the World unit the students were introduced to many other cultures. In this lesson I am introducing them to yet another culture so they begin to gain a sense of common humanity. 



40 minutes

“The book for today is called Igloos and Inuit Life, by Louise Spilsbury. Looking at the cover I see an igloo and can anyone tell me what an igloo is usually made out of?”

“Thanks Adam; it is made out of snow. In this book I can find out how to make an igloo by going to the table of contents and finding the word igloo. Ah here it is.”

“Looking at the table of contents can anyone else think about what else I could find out about the Inuit?”

I select about two or three students to respond to the question.

“You are all right. I could find about food, clothing, and transportation.”

“Well let’s go ahead and read our book.”


During reading we will discuss new vocabulary words as they come in the text. We will try to decode them using the labels, the picture clues, in context and sounding out. Of course we will not do this with every new word as there are too many and it would take too long. I would end up losing my audiences interest and have behavior issues.

We talk about can it be possible to have a fire inside an igloo, pg. 9. We discuss what our homes are made of.

We talk about why they would use reindeer skins to make clothing, pg. 9. But now they also use the same kinds of materials we use to make our clothing, pg. 10.

We discuss what the Inuit eat and why they like to eat much of their food raw, pg. 12. We discuss how much of our food is plant based; our meat is usually cooked, unless we eat sushi, and also where we keep our food. We discuss how the Inuit get their food and how we get ours, pg. 14.

We talk about how the Inuit get around on the ice and how we get around here in town; even how we get to school and how the Inuit go to school, pg. 18.

On the final page we discuss how life has changed over time for us, just as it is now changing for the Inuit.

All of these conversations are very important as they set my students up with the knowledge they will need in order to fill in the Venn diagram which I will show them after we have read the book.


After reading the book I open up the Venn diagram I had pre-made. One circle is labeled “Us” the other is labeled, “Inuit” and the center where the two circles overlap is labeled, “Both.”

“Now that we have finished reading our book, I want you to think very carefully about the conversations we just had. Looking at the SMARTBoard screen I see a Venn diagram. Who can tell me what a Venn diagram can be used for?”

“Great memory Robert; yes we used a Venn diagram when we compared our apple and pumpkin lifecycles. So what does that tell me about a Venn diagram?”

“Right, Benjamin. I can use the Venn diagram to compare things and keep track of my information. The Venn diagram is a tool we can use to organize our information so it is clear for others to see.”

“Now that we have refreshed our memory about what to use Venn diagrams for, who can tell me what they think I am going to ask you to do with this Venn diagram?” I wave my hand over the labels on the Venn diagram in front of the students.

“Well done Landon. I am going to ask you to compare and contrast ourselves to the Inuit. Can someone give me some information for my Venn diagram and tell me where I should put it?”

“That is a fabulous start to our Venn diagram Connor. We do drive in cars and I would put that piece of information in the “Us” part of the Venn diagram.”

“Okay so we have the word “car” over here in our Venn diagram. What other information can I put up here?”

The lesson goes like this until we have a fair amount of information in our Venn diagram. Once I feel I have enough information in the Venn diagram for the students to use, I let the students know they are going to fill in their own Venn diagram. Picture of SMARTBoard Venn diagram

“Today at one of your work stations you will be filling a Venn diagram with information much like the information I have up here on the board.”

“Your Venn diagram will look like this one (I hold a sample up for the students to see). The first thing you will write on here is what?” Us Inuit Comparison Venn Diagram Recording Sheet

“That’s right your name. After you have written your name you will need to fill in at least two facts in each section of the Venn diagram. So you will need two pieces of information in the “us” section, two pieces of information in the Inuit section, and finally two pieces of information in the “Both” section.”

“At the table you will find a copy of the book we just read and also a copy of this book called Living in the Arctic, by Allan Fowler. This book also has some interesting information about the Inuit people and you can see more images of their lifestyle.” As I talk I flick through the pages so the students can see what I am talking about.

“Can anyone tell me what resources I could use to help me fill in my Venn diagram?”

I select enough students to respond to this question until all of the resources are mentioned.

  • The SMARTBoard example
  • The books
  • Ask a friend, and
  • Ask a grown-up

“Those were all great suggestions. If you are working here at the SMARTBoard you will need to get a clipboard to put your paper on so it does not rip when you are writing on it over the carpet.”

Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some Venn diagram fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 


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.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

 Student sample 1     Student sample 2     Student sample 3     Student sample 4

Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today is to tell me one thing we have in common with the Inuit people.  

After a student has told me his/her commonality they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work together on coming up with a commonality.

I like using this type of exit ticket process because it gives me a quick glimpse as to which students have an understanding of the concept introduced in the activity and those who may need more work in a small group setting; such as reading work station time. 


For this assignment I will use the Inuit Life Compare and Contrast Checklist to go over the students work to make sure they met the objectives set for the assignment. Once I have completed the checklist, I attach it to the students work and place it in their collection portfolio. 

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objective of the assignment. I am looking to see if a student was able to distinguish between our lifestyle and the Inuit way of life and put them in the correct section of the Venn diagram. I am looking to see if the student had at least 2 entries in each section of the Venn diagram and made an attempt to write the word either phonetically or use the books as a resource.  

The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student has met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve. 

Compare and Contrast Discussion



Play the fishing sight word game from Making Learning Fun. The Inuit are great fishing people so we fish for words to make us smart.


We work with recording temperatures since the Inuit live in such a cold place.

At one table we work with practicing how to read a thermometer using jars of water. One jar is hot, one warm, and one cold. We record our results on a recording sheet which we place in our science journals.

Student temperature work     Student temperature work 2

At another table we practice reading cards with pictures of thermometers on them which I printed from the Making Learning Fun website.