Forty Best-practices Instructional Activities
Venn diagram is two or more intersecting/overlapping circles that students
use to identify similarities and differences between given topics. Characteristics
unique to each idea are written in the non-intersecting portions of
the circles. Characteristics that apply to the given topics are written
in the intersection of the circles.
Procedures: Choose topics for comparison.
Create large overlapping circles that provide plenty of writing spaces.
Write the topics as headings on each circle. Have students use their knowledge
and data from a reading selection to write the similarities and differences
between the topics. Use the diagram to help students find patterns and
1. Invite students to compare and contrast different species. How are
manatees and dugongs alike and different? How are whooping cranes and
Sandhill cranes alike and different? How are monarch and viceroy butterflies
alike and different? How are caribou and deer alike and different?
2. Adaptations: Students compare and contrast how different species adapt
to environmental factors to meet their survival needs.
3. By Land, By Sea, By Air: How are the migratory journeys of various
species alike and different? Ask students to find the similarities and
differences of species that fly through the skies, swim in the seas, or
roam across land during migration.
1. Create overlapping sections with different shapes, such as rectangles
or ovals. These shapes provide additional writing space for detailed charts.
2. Invite students to draw Venn-Style diagrams with pictures specific
to the topic. For example, overlapping clouds could be drawn to compare
and contrast migratory species that take flight. An outline of a butterfly
makes a great Venn diagram. Students write distinctive characteristics
about two different kinds of butterflies, such as the monarch and viceroy.
They record similarities on the body of the butterfly. This picture graph
could also be used to compare butterflies and moths.
Reading Strategies: Compare and Contrast
Ideas, Classify Information, Make Connections, Synthesize Ideas, Summarize
Main Ideas and Details