I ring my chime to get the class’s attention. I ask them to return to the carpet squares and ‘Show Five’. Once seated, I announce that we were about to begin our second lesson on leaves. I share “Leaves are the same..and different. Let me give you an example. Look to one side.” I waited for them to do this. “Now look to your other side. What did you notice about your friends that was the same or different?” “They both had hair. “Our skin was different color.” I continued, “We observe each other and notice there are some important ways we are different from each other." I set a timer and announced, “You have one minute to use your body and point to your partner one thing that you observed each other that was the same..and one that is different. Remember..no talking!” My goal was to give them a fun way to compare each other. I didn’t have a set idea of what to share, just that they use this quick demonstration. After one minute, I ring the chime to bring them back to their carpet squares.
To facilitate the direct comparison piece of the lesson, I use a two part Venn diagram that I hand drew on chart paper. I picked this format because it gives students a visual way to process new material. Next to the diagram, I attach two leaves that I randomly chose from yesterday's collection. It's fine if you skipped the first lesson. You can always use any two leaves (even silk ones will work!), as long as they have unique appearances to better process the compare and contrast concept.
We begin to record things we noticed about each leaf. Since Kindergarteners like to see things in a visual presentation, I prefer this format using two different colors, one for each leaf (green for one, brown for the other, overlapped with purple.). While this didn’t have a direct instructional application (other than color combination), it adds an element of interest, as well as aids in retention, always helpful with this age.
I begin with “What is same about the two leaves?” “They have stems.”. “So I’ll put ‘petiole’ in the center portion of the chart. That’s the Science word for the part of a leaf that connects the leaf to the branch. Anything else?” “They spread out.”. I’ll put ‘blade’ in the center portion of the chart. OK, is there anything different?” “The side of this one is jagged and the other one is smooth.” “Great observation. I’ll put jagged on one side of the Venn and smooth on the other side.” As each comparison is shared, I record it on the chart, using the Science terms to raise their vocabulary. I end the discussion at two comparisons to leave more for the small groups to brainstorm later in the lesson as a formative assessment.
After the whole class finished the comparison, I tell them “It’s time to continue this lesson with your table groups. I need you and your neighbors to come up with one or two more things that these leaves are either different or similar.” I use the chime to dismiss the students back to their tables. Once they are seated, I say “Think about their environment and structure.” To help the groups organize their thoughts, I pass out half sheets of paper with a labeled divided chart and give them five minutes to come up with some characteristics they can compare.
After five minutes, I give them a one-minute warning with the chime. Once they complete their chart, they have another minutes to have a brief discussion at their table. As that winds down, I again ring the chime. I ask the students to bring their chart when they return to their carpet squares to talk about our lesson and add their ideas to our Venn diagram.
I ask the class to share their ideas, “Who noticed something that was the same or different in these leaves?” “They both have color.” “They both have a line up the back.” “The colors are different.” As each idea is shared, I add it to the Venn diagram, using the appropriate Science terms (e.g.'dark green', 'veins') to raise their vocabulary and deepen the experience. Adding to the Venn diagram helped us visually and cognitively compare the leaves and look at all the data. Through this activity, we come to the realization that these leaves are more alike than different. After all ideas are recorded, we review the contributions before it is posted near the Science area so the students could refer to it during future Science lessons or drawing/writing activities.