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Compare and Contrast Interactive Activities

By Krima Olive Molina

So you just finished discussing a book's story grammar in class. Next task: comparing and contrasting the protagonist and antagonist. Do you bore yourself to tears whenever you start an awfully familiar "What are the similarities and differences between these two characters?" discussion yet again?

Double Bubble Thinking Map--the Giant Edition


Comparing and contrasting book/story characters need not happen by way of formal literary circle discussions and fearsome recitation sessions. With a compare and contrast interactive activity chosen from our selection below, you can go right ahead and excite your students, into citing similarities and differences between book characters, the fun and interactive way.

1. Flash a giant double bubble thinking map using the smartboard. If you don't have one in your room, use pieces of card taped together and draw the double thinking map on it. Instead of using the institutionalized Venn diagram as the standard graphic organizer for compare and contrast, use this thinking map to establish a more compartmentalized way of presenting thoughts. You can click here for a double-bubble thinking map template, courtesy of Park Meadows Elementary School.

2. Encourage volunteers to go to the board and scribble words inside each bubble, or better yet, form new bubbles to describe how your two characters are the same physically, mentally, and emotionally. Make sure that the bubbles housing the common characteristics are presented in one color only.

3. After reading together and discussing the common traits bubbles, call out volunteers to jot down the distinct traits of each of the two characters. Again, the distinct traits bubbles should be in one color only, to emphasize groupings all the more. Review and affirm each student's answer to encourage more volunteers to fill up the giant thinking map.

4. Discuss the distinct traits bubble, and end the activity by having each word or phrase inside a bubble read by the student who filled it up.

Ideas Face-off

1. Have a compare and contrast battle launch in your classroom. Divide your students into two to three groups, depending on how large your class is.

2. Start a word battle by requiring each group to shout out a common trait between two characters from the story/novel you just finished reading and discussing. You, as the facilitator, shall point to a group, and its members are to immediately shout a common trait between the two characters.

3. Very quickly, point to the next group, which will then shout another common trait. Do this alternately among the student groups in a very quick manner.

4. Once a group fails to shout an answer within three seconds, they are automatically eliminated from the face-off.

5. The group that stands in the end is to be declared the winner for the round.

6. Do the same battle for the distinct traits or the differences between the two characters, until a remaining group remains and is declared the winner for the round.

Complete Me! - Passage

1. Divide the class into two groups. Each group sends out a representative to the board with a posted, giant copy of a compare and contrast passage, with all the comparison and contrast transition or key words deleted. Examples of transition words in comparing and contrasting are like, similarly, the same, with, on the other hand, meanwhile, while, etc.

2. The teacher is to prepare cards with the key words written on each of them, to be posted by the representatives on the blanks (deleted key words) scattered all throughout the passage. However, only one card should be posted by a representative at a time, then the next representative follows, and picks out another card to be posted on another blank.

3. The first group to complete a sensible passage with all the right key words in place is to be declared the winner.

Tap into your fun, creative side in designing a compare and contrast interactive activity to avoid falling into the trap of teaching this topic using your traditional lecture-and-worksheet routine. Remember that if learning is perceived by your students as something fun, they will keep wanting more of what you have to offer them.

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